Category Archives: Weekly Things

Three Things From Week Sixteen

The 16th week of the MLB schedule (July 19 – 25) saw the Jays wrap up a lengthy 10-game post-All-Star road trip with stops in Kansas City and Detroit. As if the travel wasn’t making the team weary enough, Mother Nature added more misery to the tired team by postponing Friday’s game and forcing a split doubleheader on Sunday. The Sunday evening finish will see the Jays arrive back in Toronto later than expected, with a pretty depleted bullpen to boot.

The 3-4 record compiled last week was a bit disappointing considering a) the fact that they lost two of three to the Royals, and b) they had a big lead heading into the 8th inning on Sunday. With the trade deadline falling on Saturday afternoon, this week may very well be the final time that fans will get a chance to see this years Jays in their current form.

Here are three things that came out of week 16:

Litsch pitched well but was undone by the bullpen (from

1. What Could Have Been

Toronto finished the week with a losing record, but really should have done much better.  The chance was there on Sunday for a sweep of the doubleheader, but a horrific eighth inning ruined that.  In fact, the Blue Jays had a lead in all seven games last week, a few times late into the contest.

On Monday they took a 3-1 lead into the seventh, and then went ahead 4-3 in the tenth, only to see Kevin Gregg blow the save.  Against Zack Greinke on Wednesday, Toronto was ahead early, 1-0 in the third, but couldn’t add to the lead and fell short in the end.  They were ahead of Justin Verlander 2-0 in the fourth on Thursday and had plenty of chances to pad the lead but failed.  Finally on Sunday Toronto’s bullpen couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead in the sixth, and a 4-2 lead in the eighth, falling to Detroit 6-5.

I know they are a young team and will learn from tight losses, but young or old, losing games like that are tough to take.

2. The Auditions are Open

The trade deadline is Saturday and by my count six Blue Jays are heavily involved in trade rumours.  If opposing GM’s were using this week as an audition to scout those players, almost all would have passed with flying colours.  Take a look at the stats over the past seven days for each of the Jays in question:

Jose Bautista – .333 avg, .988 OPS, 2 HR, 9 RBI

Lyle Overbay – .259 avg, .717 OPS, 1 HR, 4 RBI (game winning HR on Sunday)

John Buck – .333 avg, .952 OPS, 1 HR, 4 RBI

Scott Downs – 2.1 IP, 1 W, 0 ER, huge escape on Sunday afternoon

Kevin Gregg – blown save on Monday, but two 3-up 3-down saves the rest of the week

The only player who failed to shine under the watchful eye of the scouts was Jason Frasor, who crumbled in the night cap of yesterday’s double dip.  But take out that performance and he actually had a nice week: 3.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 K : 0 BB. 

Not that I want to see any of those guys leave, but if they are ultimately deemed expendable, the fact that they upped their value last week is great news.

3. Encarnacion Lives!

If anybody out there is a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am not a big fan of Mr. Edwin Encarnacion.  I have been unimpressed by his performance since he came into the big leagues with Cincinnati a few years ago and I continually added him to my fantasy baseball team.  Now that he is a member of the Jays and I can see him up close, I have been even more disappointed in him.  Both his effort and his results are often lacking.

But he looks like a completely different ball player since his return from triple-A Vegas, and I will be the first to say that I might have been wrong about him.  Since being recalled to Toronto on July 3, Encarnacion has hit for a .319 avg, .802 OPS, 1 HR, and 6 RBI, and his play in the field has improved tremendously.  Even more, he looks like he is trying now.

He has been even better recently.  EE recorded a hit in all seven of Toronto’s games last week, extending his hitting streak to nine games.  His numbers during the streak are outstanding: .361 avg, .906 OPS, 6 2B, 4 RBI.  It is impossible to tell if he can keep this up, but the signs are encouraging.  Sorry to doubt you Edwin.   Thanks for proving me wrong.

Three Things From Week Fifteen

Due to the All-Star break, week 15 (July 12 – 18) was a short one.  But despite the limited number of games, it was a  highly productive one for Toronto.  The Jays saw all three of their representatives make an appearance in the AL’s 3-1 loss, made a significant trade, then went out and started the second half with a sweep of the Orioles.

One thing is certain – even if Toronto loses more games than it wins in the second half, Alex Anthopoulos will make sure it’s exciting.

Here are three things from week 15:

1.  Wheeling and Dealing

The first significant trade of the season for the Jays went down last week, with Alex Gonzalez and two prospects heading out to Atlanta for Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes.  I have dedicated a post to the trade here. 

It’s impossible to make any assumptions after only a few days, but so far Escobar has impressed with the Jays.  In his three games he is hitting .462 with a 1.192 OPS, 1 HR, and 5 RBI – including the first grand slam by a Jay this season.  Reyes dominated his first start in double-A New Hampshire (8 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 6 K for the win).  Conversely, A-Gonz is hitting .231 with a .683 OPS through four games with Atlanta.

Regardless of the stats thus far, it is obvious that AA is going to be aggressive with the trade deadline looming.  The last two articles by SI’s Jon Heyman (here and here), list seven Blue Jays among the top 46 players available at the trade deadline: Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, John Buck, Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista, Lyle Overbay.  The next two weeks could be a huge stepping stone for Toronto’s future.

2. More Baltimore Please

That is what every Jay fan should be asking for this morning.  Complain all you want about having to play in the AL East, but two good things come out of it: 1) Toronto is able to compete against the best teams and learn from them, and 2) We get to play Baltimore.

Simply put, the Orioles are terrible, and have been for a long time.  Since the 2001 season Toronto has gone 107 – 70 against Baltimore,  a winning percentage of .605.  The last time they lost a season series to the Orioles was 2004.  After last weekend’s three game sweep, the Jays are now 9-0 against them in 2010 (6-0 in Baltimore, 3-0 in Toronto) and have outscored the O’s 48-16.  It’s almost unfair.

Circle next week on your calendars, as Baltimore visits the Dome Monday through Wednesday.  Let the rout continue.

Arencibia could make an appearance in Toronto before the season is out

3. Catcher of the Future

I hate hearing that phrase because it reminds me of failures galore from Toronto’s past.  Kevin Cash.  Guillermo Quiroz.  Josh Phelps.  Curtis Thigpen.  The list is long and sad.

It looked like we were getting ready to add another name to that list after last season: J.P. Arencibia.  The “next big thing” had a rough ’09 in Vegas, hitting .236, with a .728 OPS and 21 HR in a very friendly hitters league.  After Toronto acquired Travis D’Arnaud in the Halladay deal, it looked like AA was preparing for the worst for Arencibia.

But he has exploded this season.  Through Sunday the catcher is killing triple-A pitching with a .313 average, 1.025 OPs, 27 HR, and 66 RBI in 79 games.  His 27 HR are the most in all of professional baseball, both major and minor leagues included.  His emergence is the main reason why All-Star John Buck is being shopped at the deadline.  Maybe when all is said and done Arencibia can finally change the “catcher of the future” line into “catcher of the present”.

Three Things From Week Fourteen

In the last full week before the All-Star break, the Jays rebounded nicely from a dismal Week 13 to finish 3-3 in Week 14 of the schedule (July 5 – July 11).  Taking into consideration the opposition – two legitimate contenders in Boston and Minnesota – a .500 record isn’t all that bad.

So at the break the Blue Jays sit at 44-45, exactly the same record they had through 89 games in 2009, and about 10 or more games ahead of where most experts thought they would be.  All in all it was a successful first half for the Jays.  They lead the league in home runs, are sending three players to Anaheim for the ASG, and are a fun exciting team to watch – all setting up for what should be an entertaining second half.

Here are three things that emerged from week 14:

1. Effing Red Sox

It doesn’t matter where.  It doesn’t matter when.  Toronto just can not beat Boston this year.  The Red Sox came to town on the weekend with multitudes of their annoying, rude, and obnoxious fans, and promptly took two of three, including a Friday night massacre.  The 14-3 loss was the worst this season for the Jays, and would have looked a lot worse if not for a few late game home runs.

Toronto is now 2-7 on the season against the Red Sox, including 1-5 at home.  The record is very discouraging because for the most part the games have been close.  Boston has outscored the Jays 54-37 this year, but 11 of those runs came Friday.  Five of the six losses have been by two runs or less.

That tells us that though Toronto has been competitive they still lack the finishing power against good teams.  In other words they still have to learn how to win.  With nine games remaining against the Red Sox they still have plenty of time to learn.

Romero has struggled his last two starts (photo from

2. Growing Pains for Ricky

Ricky Romero was cruising along this season until last Saturday.  Heading into that game he had was 6-4 with a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts.  Then he went out and got blown away two starts in a row, the latest coming on Friday night against the Red Sox.  In each of those starts Romero failed to make it out of the third inning, combining for 5 IP, 13 ER, 5 BB to 5 K, an ERA of 23.40 and a WHIP of 3.40.  His season ERA rose all the way 3.71.

If it’s true that all young pitchers go through growing pains then this should just be a bump in the road for Romero.  Plus, there are three “silver lining” items to prove that things aren’t all bad:

1. The Boston game wasn’t as bad as it looked, with four of his runs allowed being unearned and Brian “I can’t get anybody out” Tallet letting in a few of his baserunners.  Let down by defense and bullpen.

2. The early exits will keep his total innings down.

3. According to Richard Griffin, Joe Girardi named Romero one of the great young pitchers in the game today.  Not bad…

3. HR Derby Continues

A lot of debate, disappointment, and anger around Toronto these days due to Jose Bautista’s exclusion from tonight’s MLB Home Run Derby.  I wrote a post about it yesterday.  But for a moment let’s stop talking about Bautista, and start talking about the Blue Jays’ proficiency at slugging bombs.   When April ended and Toronto lead all of baseball in HR (35, one ahead of Arizona) people thought it was a fluke.  The Jays were supposed to struggle offensively.  They would slow down.

Then Toronto went out and slugged 54 long balls in May to extend their lead.  While they did slow a bit in June (26 HR, T10th in MLB), they are back with a vengeance in July, with 21 bombs in only 10 games.  Critics around baseball now have to take notice – at this point in the season it is no longer a fluke.  The Jays power is for real.

Toronto took it to another level last week.  They slugged multiple home runs in seven consecutive games, one shy of the franchise record of eight, only to have the streak stop on Sunday.  The Jays could only manage a single blast yesterday, a two run HR by Aaron Hill.  In a year when offense is down across the board, the fact Toronto continues to belt home runs at such a terrific pace is nothing short of amazing.

Three Things From Week Thirteen

Ouch.  What else is there to say really, after a horrendous showing in the thirteenth week of the MLB schedule (June 28 – July 4).  Toronto went 1-6 for the week, including a four-game sweep at the hands of the woeful Cleveland Indians – the first time that has happened since 1995.  Dropping two of three to division leading New York saw the Jays drop below the .500 mark for the first time since they were 12-13 on May 2nd.

As if the losing wasn’t bad enough for Jays fans, we received a double punch in the gut last week.  First, ace Shaun Marcum hit the 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation.  Second, Toronto recalled the brutally awful Edwin Encarnacion from triple-A Vegas.  EE promptly endeared himself to fans by failing to run on a sac bunt attempt in the 10th inning on Sunday, resulting in a double play.

So, in order to cheer up the Bluebird faithful, here are three positive things that came out of week 13:

1. All-Stars x 3

The last time Toronto had this many all-stars in the mid-summer classic it was 2006.  John Gibbons was at the helm, Gustavo Chacin was in the starting rotation, and Shea Hillenbrand took the bulk of at-bats at DH.  That season saw Roy Halladay, B.J. Ryan, Troy Glaus, Alex Rios, and Vernon Wells suit up at the All-Star game.

Yesterday, three Jays were named to the AL squad: Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista, and John Buck.  Wells will be making his third all-star appearance, while Bautista (MLB’s HR leader) and Buck (AL RBI leader for catchers) will each be making their first.  It’s quite an honour to have three players recognized, and the Jays actually have a case for a fourth.  Alex Gonzalez leads all AL shortstops in HR and RBI – and it isn’t even close.

The only thing left to see is if Bautista takes part in the HR derby.  My hope is no…

Kyle Drabek tossed a no-hitter on Sunday (photo from

2. Halladay 1 – Drabek 1

When Halladay was sent to Philadelphia all Blue Jay fans were disappointed.  When Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in major league history, Blue Jay fans became bitterly disappointed that he wasn’ t wearing our uniform when he did it.  It also put more pressure, fair or not, on the main prospect the Jays received in the deal – Kyle Drabek.

Well, so far so good.  Drabek matched Halladay with a no-hitter of his own on Sunday for the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.  The right-hander allowed only two walks, and faced one batter over the minimum in the complete game gem.  Overall this season Drabek is 8-8 with a 3.20 ERA and 80 K’s in double-A, and looks to be on target to potentially reach the big leagues next season.  That would be step one in a world PH (Post Halladay).

3. As Tight As Can Be

One bad inning.  That was all that separated the Jays from a series victory over the Yankees on the weekend.  If not for a franchise record matching 11-run third on Saturday afternoon, the Jays likely would have taken two of three from the Bombers, making the week that was a little bit easier to swallow.  But never-the-less, one thing is certain: Toronto and New York have played each other dead even so far this year – almost as even as you can get.

Through the first six meetings, Toronto is 3-3 against the Yankees.  The Jays have scored 27 runs in the six games; New York has scored 26.  Three of the six were decided by one run.  Three went to extra innings.  Toronto pitchers have also done a great job neutralizing four of the most dangerous hitters in baseball.  Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano are a combined 21 for 101 (.208) off Blue Jay pitching, with only 1 HR between them.

In a season where moral victories may end up being important for a young team, Toronto’s performance against the Yanks is a step in the right direction.

Three Things From Week Twelve

It was a tough week for the Jays, no doubt about it.  Not only were they involved in interleague action, which they traditionally dislike (Toronto finished 7-11 this season), but they also played both series against contending National League teams (Philadelphia and St. Louis).  To make things tougher on the Jays, their three game “home” series against the Phillies took place in Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia due to the G20 Summit.

With all of that bad conspiring against them, it isn’t much of a surprise that the Blue Jays completed week 12 (June 21 – 27) with a losing 2-4 record.  To make matters worse, while Tampa Bay is slumping and coming back to the Jays, Boston is on fire and has jumped into second.  In the tough AL East, gaining ground is much easier said than done.

Here are three thing that came out of week 12:

1. Home “Not So” Sweet Home

Halladay destroyed the Jays on Friday (from

Furious.  Angry.  Outraged.  Sad.  Devastated.  Take your pick of those words, but any of them could have described the way Blue Jays fans felt when it was announced the series against the Phillies was being shifted to Philadelphia due to the G20 Summit.  Not only did it deny us a chance to see the two-time defending NL Champions first hand, it also destroyed our chance to see the return of the greatest Blue Jay pitcher of all time Roy Halladay.  But after seeing the way Toronto played over the weekend, it might have been a good thing that they were away from the dome, to save them from the wrath of the Rogers Centre faithful.

Despite winning the middle game of the set, the Jays were thoroughly thumped in Philly.  Yesterday they were befuddled by the ageless wonder Jamie Moyer in an 11-2 rout, a game in which Toronto committed a season high four errors.  Friday was the epic duel against the Doc, and the Jays proved to be no challenge to their former ace.  Halladay dominated Toronto for seven innings in an eventual 9-0 Philly victory.  It would have been interesting to see the fans reaction in Toronto upon Halladay’s departure if the series was still here.  One good thing – the Jays will NOT be going back to Philly anytime soon…unless it’s the World Series.

2. Cito Wakes Up

Any other manager would have reacted long ago, but our big and lovable Cito doesn’t like to rock the ship very often.  Of course I’m referring to the vanishing Blue Jays offense.   After tearing up the league in the early part of the season, Toronto’s power and run scoring have gone AWOL in June.  Aaron Hill is still hitting below the Mendoza line, Adam Lind is hitting nowhere near the pace of last season, and even Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista have dropped off.  After a tough 1-0 loss to Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals, Gaston finally reacted.

In hopes of springing the offense back to life, he shuffled Adam Lind and Aaron Hill down, bumped Alex Gonzalez up, and was rewarded with a 5-0 win on Thursday.  The tinkering conitnued on the weekend, with Cito even going so far as to bat Johnny Mac leadoff on Sunday.  Though the results didn’t immediately pay off (only seven runs scored in the three game set in Philly), it’s good to finally see Cito recognizing the problem and trying to fix it instead of letting the boys play through it.

3. Rotation Questions

What a difference a few weeks make.  After going through an unreal stretch where every week a different starting pitcher was dominating and becoming the next ace, Toronto has entered a tumultuous time.  Sure Romero, Marcum, and Morrow are still lights out, but at last check it takes five quality starters to win at the big league level, and with the recent struggles of Brett Cecil and Jessie “Tommy John” Litsch, Alex Anthopoulos might have some tinkering of his own to do.

With Brian Tallet seemingly at the end of his effectiveness, and David Purcey being trusted less than a 3-year old with a rifle, there really isn’t any options at the major league level.  Fortunately for the Jays, there are a few other alternatives.  Marc Rzepczynski finally appears to be coming around at triple-A Vegas.  Though his overall numbers are ugly (3-3 7.01 ERA), he is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA (13.2 IP) over his past two starts.  Brad Mills is starting to settle down after a few atrocious starts, and way down at Dunedin – though he was just placed on the 7-day DL – Canadian Scott Richmond is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA (15.2 IP) as he makes his return from injury.  Personally I would give Litsch one more start then demote him for Rzep, but that’s why I watch the games from my couch or the 500 Level, and not the executive suites.  It will be interesting to see what AA does in the upcoming week or two.

Three Things From Week Eleven

The Jays rebounded in a big way during week 11 (June 14 – June 20), winning four of six against NL West contenders San Diego and San Francisco.   After being lit up last week against Colorado and Tampa, this is exactly the type of response that Blue Jays fans were hoping for.  In late June, nearing the mid-point of the season, Toronto is still hanging in the pennant race, sitting only 5.5 games back of the Yankees for first in the AL East, and only 4.5 games back of Tampa Bay and Boston in the Wild Card chase. It looks like we might be treated to an entertaining summer after all.

Here are three things that came out of week 11 of the season:

1. Busy Anthopoulos

Quite a week for Toronto’s rookie GM.  Not only did he get some good news on the field with a 4-2 record and a near home sweep of the Giants, he also got some good news at the gate, as the Jays attracted over 60,700 fans for the series against San Francisco – impressive considering Toronto’s downtown core (especially near the dome) resembles a war zone due to the G20 Summit.  But AA also had some very good news off the field as well.

Staring straight in the face of JP Ricciardi’s 2009 draft pick fiasco (where he failed to sign three of the first four picks), AA got off to a great start by signing 18 of his 56 picks in six days, including three of the first four.  He then followed up his draft pick signings by making a few roster moves – signing infielder Nick Green and optioning Mike McCoy to AAA Vegas, then designating Edwin Encarnacion for assignment, recalling Jarrett Hoffpauir, and activating Scott Richmond from the DL.  Sending McCoy down was a smart move to help with his development, but the EE move has proven to be controversial.  This was the same type of move made with Rios last year that came back to bite them in a big way.  AA is confident that EE will not be claimed on waivers due to his high salary and horrendous performance, but stranger things have happened.  All in all, a risky move, but just another one in a busy week for our GM.

2. Alomar and Quantrill Inducted

So this doesn’t necessarily relate to on-field performance, but I want to take a moment to recognize the achievement of Paul Quantrill and Roberto Alomar.   Both were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on the weekend in St. Mary’s, Ontario.  Quantrill appeared in 841 MLB games in his career, 35th on the all time list, ahead of such notable names as Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson.  386 of those appearances came in a Blue Jays uniform between 1996 and 2001, where he became known as one of the best relief pitchers in the game.

Alomar is of course one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time.  His enshrinement comes as no suprise, as he will likely be making an induction speech into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in a year or two.  Alomar has always represented the Blue Jays, the city of Toronto, and Canada with dignity and class, and recent rumours might have him joining the Jays in an official capacity sometime soon.

Overall, a great week for both players, and a great honour.  For more detail on the ceremony, please refer to the Blue Jay Hunter, who was in St. Mary’s.

John McDonald after his emotional HR (image from

3. Happy Father’s Day Johnny Mac

One of the most difficult weeks in John McDonald’s life took place last week.  The fan favourite was placed on the bereavement list after the unfortunate passing of his father Jack on Tuesday morning at the young age of 60.  After spending the past two weeks away from the team, Johnny Mac rejoined the Jays on Saturday, the day after his father’s funeral, and saw his first game action on Sunday – which just happened to be Father’s Day.

Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, with the Jays down by six, Johnny laced the second pitch he saw into the bullpen for his first home run of the season.  The blast sent the Rogers Centre into a frenzy, and the fact that Toronto lost the game was forgotten as the moment was so special.  Post game, McDonald held back tears describing the bomb, saying it was difficult because he couldn’t call his Dad after the game to tell him about it.  Though the week was tough, the finish was perfect, and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.

Three Things From Week Ten

It was a week to forget for Jays fans.  An awful stretch of six games saw the Jays finish week 10 (June 7 – June 13) a dismal 1-5, including a three game sweep in Colorado.  Gone are the good feelings that Toronto worked up in the first portion of the schedule, replaced by disappointment. 

Despite the struggles, it was’t all bad news for Toronto.  The team welcomed back an injured pitcher, continued to get an all star type performance from another starter, and managed to score more runs against Ubaldo Jimenez than any other team this year.

Here are three things that came out of week 10:

1. Where has the offense gone?

Toronto still leads all of baseball in home runs, but you wouldn’t know it from last week.  In the six games during week ten, the Jays managed to score a measly 10 runs, and were shutout twice.  And it wasn’t like they were just failing to cash in runners on base – they weren’t getting on base at all.

The Jays mustered only 31 hits last week, an average of just over five per game.  Winning on five hits is a very difficult thing to do in major league baseball.  For the week they hit for a .173 average and only reached base at a .256 clip.  They struck out 41 times and took only 20 walks.  Jose Bautista went through an 0-24 stretch.  Adam Lind just looks worse and worse. 

It doesn’t get any easier for the Jays either.  They kick off a three game set in baseball’s friendliest pitchers park tonight – Petco Park in San Diego.  Uh-oh.

2. Welcome back Mr. Litsch

This was supposed to be a good thing for Toronto.  Jessie Litsch, after being sidelined for over a year from Tommy John surgery, made his return to the rotation on Sunday.  The move theoretically should have strengthened the rotation and the bullpen with Litsch replacing Brian Tallet who in turn replaced Rommie Lewis.  Unfortunately, the move did not pay off on Sunday.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but perhaps waiting a bit longer to recall Litsch might have been a better move.  He didn’t exactly dominate in his minor league rehab starts (0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in AAA Las Vegas) so a few more warm-up starts couldn’t have hurt.  Giving up 7 ER in 2.1 IP wasn’t exactly the major league start he was looking for.  With the Jays able to skip the 5th spot over the next few turns, don’t be surprised to see Litsch optioned back down to iron out the kinks.

Brett Cecil been dominant for the Jays (photo from

3. Lights Out Cecil

It seems like almost every week Toronto’s ace of the future is being anointed.  First it was Shaun Marcum, then Ricky Romero, followed by Brandon Morrow.  Now, welcome Brett Cecil to the list.  Through 10 starts in 2010 the young lefty has been brilliant: 7-2, 3.22 ERA, 0.995 WHIP, 47 K to 16 BB.

Even better, since having one of his worst career starts against Texas on May 14th, he has been unbeatable in his last five: 5-0, 1.49 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 21 K’s in 36.1 IP.  And his oppostiion hasn’t been too shabby in that time (other than Seattle and Baltimore) as he shut down the Angels, the Yankees, and the Rays for Toronto’s only win last week.  The emergence of Cecil gives the Jays four excellent starters in the rotation and should lay the groundwork for a successful team in the years ahead. expired domains . web archive website offline link checker

Three Things From Week Nine

It was called many things.  “The week of doom.”  “The week of truth.”  “Make-it or break-it week.”  Week nine of the MLB season (May 31 – June 6) was huge for the Jays: three games against the best-in-baseball Tampa Bay Rays, and three against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees.  This week was supposed to tell us if Toronto was for real or playing way over their heads.

What can we conclude at the end of the week?  Wel to be honest, not a whole lot.  It was only one week.  There are still 104 games to play this season, meaning that each successive week is just as important, or more so, than the week before it.  But through 58 games, the Jays stand eight games over the .500 mark.  I don’t think anybody thought they’d hear that.

Here are three things that came out of week nine:

1. Mission Accomplished

Last night I heard many things from many people, most of it disappointment.  It’s true – the Jays blew three of the six games against the two top teams in the league.  Ninth inning meltdowns on Tuesday and Wednesday against Tampa stung, but the eighth inning debacle against New York yesterday might have hurt even more.  Fans wanted that sweep, especially since thousands of Yankees fans invaded Toronto to see the games.  But to be upset that Toronto didn’t sweep all SIX games against the Rays and Yanks?  That is absurd.

In March, when looking at the schedule, many would have been fine with winning two games considering how bad the Jays were “supposed” to be.   Last Monday morning I woke up, considered the upcoming schedule, and said I would be happy with a split.  Well, the Jays got the split, and although they will be disappointed in themselves by not winning more, I’m sure they would have taken a split going into both series.  If anything the games against the Yankees showed Toronto’s grit, heart, and character.  Something tells me that if the 2009 Jays blew back-to-back ninth inning leads against Tampa, they would have folded up the tent.  Resiliency is a good sign in a winner.

2. Trouble with Tampa – Blue Jay bullpen woes

After Sunday’s tough loss to the Yankees, many were quick to criticize the bullpen.  But before you react too soon, consider that Toronto actually has (statistically speaking anways) a decent bullpen.  They are tied for 16th in all of baseball with a 4.20 ERA, ahead of teams such as Boston, Anaheim, Oakland, and Cincinnati, and just behind the Yankees (4.19).  Relievers have combined for a 9-10 record and 148 strikeouts, putting them ahead of contending teams like Philadelphia, the Yankees, Minnesota, St. Louis, Boston, and Colorado in that regard.

The problem with Toronto’s bullpen can be summed up in one word – Tampa.  Against the Rays, Toronto’s bullpen has been brutal: 18.00 ERA, 13 walks, 12 strikeouts, and 24 hits allowed in only 11 innings.  Horrendous.  Only Shawn Camp has had any sort of success against Tampa (0.00 ERA in 2 IP).  Kevin Gregg (12.00 ERA), Jason Frasor (31.50 ERA), Scott Downs (27.00 ERA), and Casey Janssen (81.00 ERA) have been downright atrocious.  Take out the record against Tampa and Toronto’s team bullpen ERA drops to 3.19.  And while the pen will still be villified for their collapse against the Yankees yesterday, don’t forget that they didn’t pitch badly in the series against New York – 3 ER in 9 IP, including 6 scoreless innings in Saturday’s marathon.  They might not intimidate, but they have actually been effective.

Adam Lind is off to a rocky start in 2010 (photo from

3. Paging Aaron Hill…Paging Adam Lind…

The Blue Jays sit tied for third in the AL East, 33-25, and only 4.5 games back of division leading Tampa.  And they’re doing virtually all of it without their two best players from 2009.  At this point last season (through the games of June 6th), Adam Lind was smoking the ball to the tune of a .311 average, .908 OPS, 9 HR, and 39 RBI.  This season?  A far different story: .210 average, .649 OPS, 8 HR, and 30 RBI.  Unfortunately, the same thing can be said about 2009 Comeback Player of the Year Aaron Hill.  Through June 6th, 2009: .309 average, .825 OPS, 12 HR, 38 RBI.  Through June 6th, 2010: .186 average, .644 OPS, 8 HR, 19RBI.

Hill appeared to be snapping out of his funk last week, going 8 for 20 in the first five games of the Tampa/NY series’.  But he grounded into a decisive double play with the tying run on first in the eighth inning yesterday to kill any potential rally, a situation he thrived in last season.  Lind looks lost at the plate, especially against left handed pitching where he is hitting a miserable .102 (6 for 59) with 25 strikeouts (he hit .275 vs. lefties last year).  He looked particularly brutal against Tampa lefty Randy Choate in several key situations last week.  While a pessimist will say that last year was a fluke, an optimist will say watch out for the Jays when these two finally get it going. same sites . expired domains . apache web server . link checker .

Three Things From Week Eight

The Jays continued their hot start to the season in week seven (May 24 – May 30).  After dropping two of three to the Angels in Anaheim to start the week, they rebounded by sweeping away the horrendous Orioles back home, a good way to start off a nine game homestand.  The Blue Jays need all of those wins because the going is about to get a lot tougher.  The next 24 consecutive games are all against teams that are over .500, giving the club a great chance to prove that they are indeed for real this season.

Here are three things that came out of week seven:

1. Jose Bautista – Home Run Hitting Machine

While many baseball pundits are looking at Shaun Marcum, Vernon Wells, and Ricky Romero as the biggest reasons why the Jays are overachieving to this point, the biggest overachiever of all is still flying under the radar.  After Sunday’s game, Bautista has 16 home runs, giving him the outright major league lead and tying his career high.  He is showing no signs of slowing down either, if the last week is any indication.  Bautista dominated the Angels and Orioles pitching staffs, hitting .333 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R, and an incredible .565 OBP by drawing 8 walks.

For those who think that his power pace is unsustainable, chew on this: this surge actually began at the end of last season.  Bautista slugged 10 HR in September/October of 2009, giving him 26 from that point on.  Those 26 HR are more than anybody in baseball over that stretch – including names such as Pujols, Rodriguez, Howard, and Braun.  If he even keeps up a portion of his current pace his next stop could very well be Anaheim for the All Star game in July.

2. AL East is Insane

Everybody knew coming into the season that the AL East was the toughest division in baseball, but this is getting ridiculous.  Eight teams across the entire league have 29 or more victories on the season, and four of them reside in the AL East.  With a record of 30-22, Toronto would be in first place in the AL West, NL East, or NL West, but instead find themselves in third, only one game ahead of Boston who are fourth.  With nine straight games on the schedule against Tampa and the Yankees beginning on Monday, the Jays will be getting their first true test against the elite teams of the division.  They could be in first or fourth when that stretch is done.

But regardless of how they fare, Toronto has a legitimate argument to make for some kind of realignment or playoff system modification.  If the season ended today, Toronto would finish sixth overall in the entire MLB yet miss the postseason.  Texas, Philadelphia, and St. Louis – all with poorer records than Toronto – would qualify.  One look at scenarios like that makes it very difficult not to cry foul.  Maybe adding two additional wild card slots would help take away some of unfairness in the current system.  But the chances of that happening? I would put it at 0%.

3. Perfection from the Doc

Halladay celebrates his perfect game (photo from

Technically this is cheating since he no longer plays for the Jays and this is a Blue Jays only feature.  But Roy Halladay is still beloved in these parts, and his perfect game on Saturday will be celebrated all season long by Jays fans.  The way that he mowed down the Marlins in order (11 K’s, 115 pitches) looked effortless, and seeing him smile at the end of the game brought back fond memories of his time here in Toronto.  What made the game even more impressive was that it came after his worst start of the season, an 8-3 shellacking by the Red Sox.

When Halladay came within one out of a no-hitter in his second career start back in 1998, it looked like it was only a matter of time until he threw one.  The only thing surprising about his perfect game was that it took him 12 years to finally get it.  Unfortunately because of the G-20 summit forcing the Jays to move their series against the Phillies down to Philadelphia, Toronto fans won’t get a chance to truly show him our appreciation both for his time spent here and for his gem.  Never-the-less, congratulations Doc!

Three Things From Week Seven

Week Seven (May 17 – May 23) saw the return of interleague play, a time of the season that Toronto hates.  Since the advent of interleague play in 1997, Toronto is 13 games under .500 against the weaker National League, only better than Baltimore, Kansas City, and Tampa.  At a time of the schedule that is supposed to help AL clubs fatten up their record, the Jays have done the opposite.  This year began no different, as they dropped two of three to Arizona.

Though they managed to avoid the sweep on Sunday, the week was not a good one for Toronto.  They finished with a 3-4 record, and saw continued struggles from Dana Eveland and Aaron Hill, along with new struggles from Kevin Gregg.  Hopefully these are only temporary hiccups to an otherwise incredible season.

Here are three things that came out of week seven:

1. The Revenge of Overbay

The 2010 season hit rock bottom for Lyle Overbay on Monday May 17th.  An 0-4 performance and two brutal errors on the same play had fans screaming for blood at the Rogers Centre.  Thunderous boo’s and chants of “you suck”, “Lyle Overpaid”, and “We want Wallace” serenaded the first baseman as he ran off the field each inning.

Well, maybe Lyle was due to explode, or maybe the booing woke him up.  Whatever the case, he has responded in a big way.  In the next six games of week seven, Overbay went 10/25 for a .400 average, with 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, and 4 R, rasiing his season average from .181 to .215.  While the numbers might not seem elite, he is finally contributing and helping the Jays win.  If only he can start to rub off on Aaron Hill…

2. Encarnacion Goes INSANE!!!

Edwin Encarnacion - Image from

Edwin Encarnacion became kind of a forgotten man after his injury in April.  The Jays continued to roll right along without him, and with Jose Bautista moving over to third and tearing up the league, many fans were doubting Edwin’s return.  But man did he ever announce his presence in a big way!

Playing in his first game in a month on Tuesday, Encarnacion launched a two-run homer against the Twins.  He then absolutely destroyed Diamondback pitching over the weekend, crushing three bombs on Friday, and then one each on Saturday and Sunday.  Overall, in the six games since his return Encarnacion is hitting .368 with 6 HR, 11 RBI, and 7 R.  He is also playing exceptional defense, maybe proving that he does deserve a spot on this club after all.

3. Bye Bye Eveland

What started off as a great story for Toronto ended in disappointment on Sunday as Dana Eveland was designated for assignment.  The left-hander was brought on just before camp, and surprised many by pitching well enough to make the team.  He started strong out of the gate, winning his first two starts, and sported a 3-1 record with a 3.82 ERA on May 6th.  But the wheels fell off in his next three starts, as Eveland surrendered 17 ER in only 9.1 IP, losing all three.

With Brian Tallet, Jessie Litsch, and Mark Rzepczynski all coming off the DL it was up to Eveland to prove that he still deserved a rotation spot.  When he didn’t, the Jays had no choice but to release him.  It’s hard not to feel sad for the pitcher, especially when he called Toronto the greatest organization he has had the chance to be a part of.  There’s a chance he still ends up in Vegas and makes a return appearance with the Jays, but whatever happens, best of luck Dana.