Finally – something good!
Seven games against fierce AL East rivals, all on the road, and – gasp! – a winning record!
Despite injuries to the rotation, the Jays finally received some offense, some timely hitting, and a quality performance from Mark Buehrle to maybe, finally (please?!) turn the corner on what has been a miserable 2013.
The team was never as bad as they looked in the first month and a bit, and hopefully they will finally start to meet expectations.
Here are three things from week 6:
Week 6: May 6 – May 12
Record: 4 – 3
1. Joey Bats is Back!
When the Jays made the major acquisitions to their roster in the offseason, they brought in more than just talented players – they brought in veteran leaders. Players like Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and R.A. Dickey were supposed to make the team better both on and off the field.
But one thing is clear – despite bringing those guys in, this is Jose Bautista’s team. As he goes, the Blue Jays go, and it was no coincidence that as he struggled to find his timing, the Jays struggled to put wins in the win column.
After last week, things have hopefully changed for the better. Bautista had a massive week at the dish, going 9 for 25, good for a .360 average, 1.158 OPS, with 2 HR and 7 RBI. While the two home runs were nice, a much better sign (believe it or not) were the three doubles and four singles he collected. In the early part of the season it was painfully obvious that Bautista and the rest of the Jays were swinging for the fences, trying to overcome for slow starts in one swing. Just as obvious was the fact that it wasn’t working. Home runs are nice, but extended rallies are much, much nicer. The best way to generate extended rallies is to get runners on base. With seven non-HR hits, to go along with four walks and a hit-by-pitch, Bautista did just that.
Jose leads by example. With him getting on base, the rest of the team will follow.
2. The Melk Man Cometh
Melky Cabrera got off to a miserable start for the Toronto Blue Jays. A good portion of the struggles may have been mental, as he tried to prove to everybody that he could perform without the use of PED’s. He looked to be trying too hard to make things happen, similar to what Bautista was doing. But once Melky relaxed and started swinging the bat, his fortunes have turned around…big time.
In the seven games played last week, Cabrera hit an even .300. Though the power has not arrived yet, he did slug four doubles, good for a .746 OPS. He was able to raise his season batting average from .252 to .261 and his season OPS from .609 to .635. Neither number is where he’d ideally like to be, but progress is being made. Up is better than down.
This upcoming week should be very interesting for Melky. Tuesday and Wednesday see the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants invade Toronto. Cabrera, of course, was a key contributor to that Giants team until his suspension. From what has been said in the media, many of his former teammates have not forgiven him for the PED bust last year, and there is no love lost between them.
Jays fans would love to see him prove the Giants wrong with a big series.
3. Makeshift Rotation
Remember when 2013′s starting rotation looked like a strength? Those were the days…
One look at it now leads to gasps of disbelief. Chad Jenkins? Ramon Ortiz? Yes sir! With Josh Johnson and J.A. Happ both on the DL, and with Brandon Morrow having his spot skipped not once, not twice, but thrice (now slated to go Saturday in New York instead of Wednesday), the rotation has turned into a patchwork quilt, made up of youngsters and has-beens.
The good (or lucky) news, is that both Ortiz and Jenkins fared quite well in Boston on the weekend. 40 year old Ortiz tossed five solid innings Friday night, allowing 1 ER, and 4 hits, but the 5 walks issued suggests that his success isn’t very sustainable. The 25 year old Jenkins allowed 2 ER in 5 IP on Sunday striking out two and walking only one. The Jays went 1-1 in those two starts.
Ortiz is slated to go again on Wednesday, and the word is that one of the two will be forced to start next Monday as well. With supposed ace R.A. Dickey still battling neck and back pain, things are looking bleak for the pitching staff.
In Buehrle we trust. (Yikes.)