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Every Monday during the 2018 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 1.
- A Tale of Two Halves
To paraphrase Charles Dickens: it was the worst of times, it was the best of times. The first half of Toronto’s season opening 4-game set against the Yankees was nothing but pure misery for fans. The promise of a more versatile and dynamic offense was nowhere to be found as the Jays looked a lot like the futile squad of 2017. In those two games the Blue Jays scored a measly 3 runs on 7 hits, only drew 4 walks compared to 24 strikeouts, and hit a putrid .125 (1-for-8) with runners in scoring position. But the weekend brought much better fortune for Toronto hitters. They looked more patient and more confident and it paid dividends. On Saturday and Sunday Jays batters plated 12 runs on 21 hits, had a much more respectable 9:24 walk to strikeout ratio, and hit .278 (5-for-18) with RISP. The offense doesn’t necessarily need to revert back to 2015 levels for the team to be successful, not with the top-4 of the rotation looking pretty good and the bullpen only allowing three runs in 13.2 IP. But less of the Thursday/Friday performance and more Saturday/Sunday would be much appreciated moving forward.
- Smoak to the Rescue
Justin Smoak broke out in a huge way last season, putting up career numbers across the board and cementing himself firmly in the middle of Toronto’s lineup. But the big question heading into 2018 was how much of Smoak’s production was sustainable and how much was an outlier. Well, through four games Smoak looks like he is picking up right where he left off. He went 7-for-15 in the opening series, with four extra base hits – including two HR. He celebrated his bobblehead day on Saturday with three hits, then almost single-handedly won yesterday’s contest with a two-run shot in the 7th inning followed by a game-winning grand slam in the 8th. The fact that both bombs came off of very stingy Yankee relievers (Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson) is an even better sign.
- Pillar Runs Wild
Despite Smoak’s Sunday heroics, the highlight of the week was Kevin Pillar’s straight steal of home on Saturday afternoon. It was Toronto’s first straight steal of home since Aaron Hill did it against Andy Pettitte in 2007. It’s obviously very early, but Pillar’s 3 SB has him tied for first in all of baseball.
Player of the Week
Justin Smoak, 1B
7-for-15, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB. 2 R, 8 RBI, .467 / .529 / 1.000 / 1.529
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead
Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays
Stats from 2017 (2018 season not yet started)
The Look Ahead
April 2 – 4 vs. Chicago White Sox
April 6 – 8 at Texas Rangers