The 2016 season is underway, and the Blue Jays are off to a great start. Two games, two wins – you can’t ask for much better than that.
I know that two games in a 162-game season is peanuts, but keep in mind that the last time Toronto started a season 2-0 was 2012, meaning it’s not something that happens very often around here.
It’s OK to be excited. After all, this is a team that faced a difficult offseason, was given a bit of a bad shake in terms of travel (they spent Thursday in Florida, Friday and Saturday in Montreal, then back to Florida for a Sunday afternoon opener), and had to kick off the season in Tampa Bay, their personal house of horrors.
2-0 should be seen as an accomplishment, and here are two things that really impressed me about the opening games.
1. The Jays won both games by a score of 5 – 3 punctuated by a strong 9th inning from Osuna, but that is where the similarities end. The wins were two completely different ball games. On Sunday afternoon the Blue Jays jumped out to an early lead and were never really challenged. Yes Chris Archer kept them off balance with 12 strikeouts, and yes it was only a 3 – 1 game into the eighth inning, but you never got the indication that Tampa Bay was close. That’s how good Marcus Stroman was.
Last night, however, was a different story. The Rays threatened early, took a lead, and even after falling behind 5 – 1 kept chipping away. They left nine runners on base, finished 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position, and wasted some golden chances in the 6th and 8th. It looked like a game the Jays really had no business winning.
Last season Toronto finished 30-42 in 2-run games. They are already 2-0 in 2016.
2. The Jays won both games despite arguably not playing very well. Stroman looked incredible, Osuna is dealing, and Saunders is off to a terrific start. But look at everybody else:
– Martin, Colabello, Goins, and Tulo are a combined 2 for 25
– Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion have one extra base hit
– As a team the Blue Jays have struck out 25 times and only drawn five walks
– They are batting .176 (3 for 17) with runners in scoring position
– Defensively they have already committed three errors
– On the pitching side, Dickey looked wobbly, both Storen and Chavez looked a bit shaky, and Cecil was saved from trouble by another Superman style catch by Pillar.
To see all of the above, and then realize that Toronto actually won both games? All you can do is laugh.
Because here we are, 2-0.
Just wait until they really get going.