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
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.