Every Monday during the 2016 season, 500 Level Fan will take a look back at the week that was, giving readers a snapshot of all things Blue Jays, including three top stories and the Blue Jay player of the week.
This is what happened in week 6.
Week 6: May 9 – 15
Record: 3 – 3
Season-to-date: 19 – 20
AL East: 3rd, 5.5 games behind Baltimore/Boston
Wild Card: 3 games behind Seattle
- Melee in Texas
To quote Ron Burgundy: “Well, that escalated quickly.” If there were hurt feelings, tension, and bad blood between the Rangers and Jays as a result of Jose Bautista’s bat flip, it appeared that nothing was going to happen. Through six full games and seven innings of the seventh (and final) game, both teams had taken the high road, content to let things play out on the field. And then everything exploded. Bautista, archenemy #1 in Texas, led off the 8th and was immediately drilled by a pitch thrown by Matt Bush. The HBP was clearly intentional, was clearly ordered by Texas management, and was incredibly cowardly in its nature. The Rangers were obviously afraid of retribution – why else wait until Bautista’s last at-bat of the season? That doesn’t excuse Bau’s dangerous slide into Odor on the ensuing double play ball, but his anger is clearly justified. What followed was one of the wildest scenes I have witnessed in years. The Odor sucker punch, the Donaldson spear, Odor hiding behind his entire team, Gibbons returning to the field after being ejected, the Fielder HBP, and on and on. Hopefully the Jays can use this as a turning point and start playing like the team they should be.
- Back From the Dead
The Jays slow start has been wearing down even the most optimistic fans, but it has sadly galvanized an awful sub-set of Blue Jays supporters: the social media haters. These are people who delight in trashing struggling players on Twitter, letting everybody know that specific players are awful, overrated, and should be released. For some reason, the two Blue Jays who are targeted the most are Troy Tulowitzki and R.A. Dickey. Both got off to terrible starts this year – of that there is no question. And that is why last week was so satisfying. In six games, Tulo went 9-for-24 with 3 2B, 3 HR, and 7 RBI. He saw his batting average rise from .162 to 200 and his OPS jump from .572 to .698. Dickey pitched an absolute gem on Friday night, tossing 8 shutout innings and allowing only 3 hits with 6 strikeouts. In his past three starts he has posted a 1.27 ERA in 21.1 IP. Now if only those two could rub off on Russell Martin….
- Struggles, Struggles, and More Struggles
Last season, the Jays were widely criticized for their record in one run games. The team went 15-28 (.349), and we heard time and again that teams that struggle in one run games won’t stay competitive for long. The Jays, obviously, won the division and the ALDS. But this season has started the same way. After three more one run losses last week, Toronto is now 3-10 (.231) in such contests in 2016, and the criticisms have only increased. But what’s of a bigger concern (at least to me), is their inability to win games when allowing runs. In 2015, allowing their opponents to score a bunch of runs wasn’t necessarily sure death for the Jays. Thanks to their incredible offense, they won 37% of games when allowing 4+ runs (33-56 record). However, due to their offensive struggles this year, that number is way down: 0%. That’s right – Toronto is an incredible 0-16 when allowing 4+ runs, mind boggling for a team with Bautista, Encarnacion, Donaldson, Tulowitzki, Martin, and company in the lineup. Surely this is just an aberration and when the offense picks up the wins will start piling up. But if you want one specific stat that is a microcosm of Toronto’s 2016 season, this is it.
Player of the Week
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
He’s starting to heat up: 9-for-24, 7 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .375 / .407 / .875 / 1.282
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 17 – 20, 6th place, 3.5 GB
AA – New Hampshire: 18 – 17, 4th place, 5 GB
A+ – Dunedin: 15 – 22, 4th place, 9 GB
A – Lansing: 18 – 16, T-4th place, 3.5 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: season not started
The Look Ahead
Finally some games against sub .500 teams. It’s time to heat up.
May 16 – 18 vs. Tampa Bay
May 19 – 22 at Minnesota