Category Archives: Weekly Things

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 daylife.com)

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 mlb.com)

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 Daylife.com

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.

Three Things From Week Six

Week Six (May 10 – May 16) began on a sour note with the Jays self-destructing in back-to-back losses at Fenway Park, continuing their struggles against baseball’s better teams.  But the week ended with a flurry of victories: a sweep-avoiding win on Wednesday over the Red Sox followed by a sweep of the AL West leading Texas Rangers back in Toronto. 

 The Jays now sit at 23-16, 3rd in the AL East and only two games behind the defending world series champion Yankees for the Wild card.  It’s still early, but it’s hard not to be excited by this young team. 

Here are three things that came out of week six: Continue reading Three Things From Week Six

Three Things From Week Five

The beat goes on for the Jays.  After a 6-1 week five (May 3 – May 9) Toronto finds itself in third place in the AL East, 19-14 overall and 2.5 games ahead of the Red Sox.  With a three game set ready to begin tonight in Fenway, the Jays have a chance to extend that lead and keep Boston’s early season misery going. 

Here are three things about the Jays from week five: Continue reading Three Things From Week Five

Three Things From Week Four

Taking three of four from Oakland at the end of week four (April 26 – May 2)  salvaged a rough start for the Jays, and left them at an even .500 through 26 games.   The week started with three very competitive games against Boston that were at once encouraging and frustrating.  Encouraging because the Jays proved that they could play with elite competition like the Red Sox, but frustrating because they know they can not consistently beat them.  However, the fact that this ballclub, who was predicted to finish dead last, has won an equal number of games as they’ve lost, is a good sign.

Here are three noteworthy things from the week that was for the Jays: Continue reading Three Things From Week Four

Three Things From Week Three

The third week of the 2010 schedule was an up-and-down affair for the Blue Jays. They had their first taste of tough AL East competition with a three game set in Tampa, and finished the week with a 3-3 record. But shoddy bullpen work played a part in all three losses, leaving a black mark on what could have been a stellar week. Starting pitching continues to be a strong spot for Toronto, but poor hitting is putting heavy pressure on the bullpen, which, aside from Kevin Gregg, is crumbling. Continue reading Three Things From Week Three

Three Things From Week Two

*Originally written April 19th

Nobody expected a first place finish by Toronto this year, so the fact that they fell a bit in week two is not surprising. What is surprising is that the fall came at home. Toronto was miserable on the road in 2009 with a 31-50 record – third worst in the American League. But their home record of 44-37 was very respectable, especially considering the division where the Jays reside. same sites Unfortunately that hasn’t carried forward into 2010, with Toronto dropping five of their first seven home games, including a three game sweep at the hands of the Angels. The struggles at home are a big story from the second week of the season. Here are three more: Continue reading Three Things From Week Two

Three Things From Week One

*originally written April 12th

Who would have thought it was possible? After one week the Toronto Blue Jays are 5 – 1 and sitting in first place in both the American League East, and the entire MLB. For a team that was picked by virtually all baseball experts to finish dead last, Toronto couldn’t have asked for a better start. After a tough loss on opening day, the Jays have rebounded for five straight wins heading into the home opener tonight.

As good as it’s been, it’s important not to get too caught up in the start. Less than 4% of the season has been played, and not even the most optimistic Jays fan believes Toronto can sustain this pace. The Jays are still picked by most, if not all, observers to finish in the basement come October. But the great start has allowed the fans to focus on the good things about this team, and has even started building some excitement in the city. Continue reading Three Things From Week One