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 13.
Week 13: June 27 – July 3
Record: 4 – 3
Season-to-date: 45 – 39
AL East: 3rd, 3.5 games behind Baltimore
Wild Card: Tied with Detroit
- Battle of the Heavyweights
End of June / early July is a bit early to start thinking about potential playoff matchups, but the Indians and Jays sure gave us a tantalizing glimpse of what October might be like last week. Entering the series the Indians were riding a 12-game winning streak and were sitting comfortably on top of the AL Central, six games ahead of the Royals. The Jays were scuffling a little bit but were still in the thick of the hunt in the AL East. On the surface it had the makings of a classic tilt, and for the most part the series didn’t disappoint. On Thursday, Carlos Carrasco struck out 14 as the Jays offense sputtered. Friday produced one of the wildest games ever seen in Toronto (more on that below). The Jays bats finally woke up on the weekend, smacking 30 hits and plating 26 runs to earn the series split. The four games had a bit of everything: great starting pitching (Carrasco and – finally – a nice start from Stroman), dominant relief pitching (Friday’s marathon),
errors, runs, and lot and lots of extra base hits. If these teams can continue to play well down the stretch and qualify for October, I wouldn’t be against seeing a rematch.
- Marathon Men
The Indians and Blue Jays showed up for Friday’s Canada Day matinee ready to play. Then they kept playing. And playing. And playing. When it was finally all said and done, the Tribe had outlasted the Jays 2-1 in 19 innings, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of fans who stuck around for all 6 hours and 13 minutes of action. It was a game that pretty much had it all. You want great starting pitching? You got it. Josh Tomlin lasted six innings for Cleveland, surrendering 7 hits and striking out 8. Marcus Stroman finally looked like the ace of old, allowing 5 hits and a walk while striking out 6 in 6.2 IP. You like bullpens? We saw eight Cleveland relievers (including Saturday’s projected starter Trevor Bauer) shut the door, pitching 13 scoreless innings while allowing only four hits. The Jays nearly followed suit, as nine men took the mound and allowed one run in 12.1 IP. We also saw Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney both toe the rubber, and both looked surprisingly competent, despite Barney surrendering the eventual game winning home run. And finally, the game wasn’t without controversy, as home plate umpire Vic Carapazza had possibly one of the worst games in modern history, calling an absolutely abysmal strike zone that resulted in the ejections of Edwin Encarnacion, John Gibbons, and Russell Martin. With EE in the lineup, does anybody think the game goes 19? Didn’t think so…
- Return of the Bats
Blue Jay hitters were thoroughly befuddled on Thursday and Friday by Cleveland Indians pitching. But other than those two games, you would never know that Toronto was suffering from an offensive slump virtually all year long. It was 2015 all over again as the Jays scored 24 runs in three games in Colorado, then put up 26 in the last two games against Cleveland. It wasn’t just the usual suspects contributing either, as everybody got into the act. Devon Travis hit .300 with a home run and two steals. Barney went 6/19, Smoak blasted two HR, and Ezequiel Carrera scored six runs. But the real fireworks were provided by the core. Encarnacion continued his torrid pace three HR, 10 RBI, and a .375 average. Donaldson scored 11 runs, bashed 3 HR, and drove in 9. Tulowitzki went deep three times, and Russell Martin had eight hits. It took a while – nearly half the season – but the lineup, top to bottom, has finally arrived.
Player of the Week
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Just keeps crushing the ball: 12 for 31, 11 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .387 / .513 / .774 / 1.287
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 46 – 38, 4th place, 6 GB
AA – New Hampshire: 36 – 47, 5th place, 24 GB
A+ – Dunedin: First Half: 33 – 36, 5th place; Second Half: 8 – 3, T1st place
A – Lansing: First Half: 36 – 34, T-5th place; Second Half: 7 – 4, 2nd place, 2 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: 9 – 8, 3rd, 2 GB
The Look Ahead
A rematch of last year’s ALCS. Get ready!
July 4 – 6 vs. Kansas City
July 7 – 10 vs. Detroit