First of all, thank goodness the Toronto Raptors won tonight because worse than losing in the first round again, in game 7, this time it would have been after having a 14 point lead heading into the 4th quarter. Man, winning by 5 is just too close for comfort.
And it was a great Sunday as Toronto’s other team, the Toronto Blue Jays also won today on ace pitcher Marcus Stroman’s birthday. He pitched 8 intelligent innings allowing only a solo homer. Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki both had homeruns, but the best played part of the game was the 9th inning when Darwin Barney pinch hit for Ryan Goins and lead off with a double. With Donaldson also on base, Edwin Encarnacion did what he had to do and got an RBI groundout. Tulo’s homer was then the icing on the cake.
AND yesterday, Toronto’s other team with die hard fans, the Maple Leafs, didn’t actually win a game but won the first round draft pick. The best news they’ve had all year. All in all, a great weekend for Toronto sports.
Despite homeruns by Jose Bautista and Kevin Pillar, the Jays couldn’t get the win. Pillar made his first error since last June. And unfortunately, we can’t avoid talking about Brett Cecil again. After Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3, Cecil is now 0-5. This is the most losses in relief at the end of April. Ever. (Well, since 1913). Again, he allowed 3 hits without getting an out.
The scary thing is the Cecil says he can’t change anything and doesn’t want to change anything. He says he feels good and is pitching well.
I’m not to sure. His pitches seem the seem, but the pitch choices may not be. John Gibbons wasn’t happy with his last pitch choice on Saturday.
According to baseball-reference.com he has been playing more high leverage situations in 2016 compared to 2015.
gmLI (game-entering Leverage Index)
We know that the Jays have started off slow in the past and weren’t in terrific shape in 2015 when the trade deadline came around hovering at around a .500 record. How are the Jays fairing compared to last April?
W-L 11-12 11-14
ERA 4.78 3.89
OPP AVG .270 .252
WHIP 1.45 1.30
So if they’re pitching better, why isn’t their record better? Maybe the other teams are that much better? Maybe, but actually the Offense is the reason.
Team AVG .248 .232
Runs/Game 5.3 4.0
HR 28 29
RISP .276 .220
K/Game 7.7 9.3
The biggest problem is the RISP (runners in scoring position) and too many strikeouts. So…hard to blame Cecil and the bullpen completely. If the offense was living up to it’s name, the Jays would be doing well. The team should probably listen to Josh Donaldson and change their approach at the plate.
I was feeling a little better knowing that the Jays were actually also 3 games behind first place last June 2015. Of course, some major changes were made to the roster come July. Fortunately, the Toronto Blue Jays ended their 3-game losing streak beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1, after getting swept at home by the Chicago White Sox. The last time the Jays were swept at home? 2013.
Aaron Sanchez was in good form with 7 shutout innings. But Drew Storen is still majorly struggling giving up the lone Tampa Bay Rays homerun.
Good news…sort of
Russell Martin snapped his 9 strikeout in a row streak by getting a hit to right field.
IF Tulowitzki doesn’t fix his batting issues, I predict that in July the team may attempt to trade him. That’s assuming that Devon Travis makes it back to the roster and demonstrates that he is still very capable of hitting and playing second base. That’s also assuming that the Jays think they can keep Barney on the bench with Goins moving to shortstop. If Goins can hit around .250 or at least better than Tulo, that’ll free up a lot of salary to fill in any holes.
The Blue Jays get shut out of the game and of the series against the Chicago White Sox and 3 former Blue Jays.
Wednesday was a wasted effort by Marco Estrada and the final result, a 3-0 series win by the Chicago White Sox, a team that now includes Dioner Navarro, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera. In 2015, the Jays only got swept once in a 3 game series. Estrada actually did great with a sore arm and leaving after 118 pitches. He gave up his one bad hit to none other than his old catcher Dioner Navarro who got a triple. Dioner obviously had the advantage of see each of his pitches for a year.
The bullpen is supposed to save the starter. That has NOT happened. More than half of inherited runs are still getting home. This is the highest in the league. The bullpen lacks pitchers who can strike batters out and keep runners on the bases. In addition to the shortcomings of starting pitcher R. A. Dickey, this has been a consistent problem amidst the intermittent problems with batting and defense.
The pitchers that the Jays retained and acquired were pitchers that could limit runs to 3 or less. This was with the assumption that the hitters would hit! This has not been happening as we all know too well.
And defense was a bit of a circus out in right field Wednesday night.
The lineup has been shuffled on an almost daily basis. I think this lack of stability is not helping matters at all.
But I do think we need to move at least Russell Martin down the lineup. His at bats should be limited until he finds it. The wasted batters need to be grouped together at the bottom. Too many runners are getting left on base because adequate hitters are followed by the inadequate.
GIBBY GETS EJECTED
John Gibbons was not happy with a lot of the homeplate umpire’s calls and they argued a fair bit. Ultimately, the homeplate umpire butt his nose in and ejected Gibby even though Gibby wasn’t talking to him. Ridiculous.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Toronto Blue Jays were down 7-1 heading into the 9th, they ended up giving up 3 more runs. The White Sox had a field day on Tuesday night. This was the first game I didn’t want to watch. It was assumed that it would be bad with Sale who’s been hot for a while and R. A. Dickey who’s been cold this season, but I’m not sure about a 10-1 game? If it weren’t for a solo homerun shot by Edwin Encarnacion, it would have been a 10-0 shutout!
It was all left hander Chris Sale. Toronto had 3 dinky hits besides the homerun. Not only did Dickey allow 6 runs in 6 innings, Biagini allowed 1 and Storen, the previous closer, allowed 3 runs pitching to 5 batters. Toronto’s greatest weaknesses? R. A. Dickey and the bullpen. No doubt.
Check out the playful side of Josh Donaldson.
Stroman was the starter Monday night and he held the Chicago White Sox back allowing only 1 run into the 7th inning. The Blue Jays led 5-1 when he got the hook after allowing 2 singles then getting nailed in the left arm off the bat of ex-Blue Jay Dioner Navarro. He shook it off but then pitched 4 balls to Austin Jackson. I think John Gibbons thought he was hurt and couldn’t pitch, but it turned out to be a disastrous decision to yank him.
Brett Cecil came in with 2 outs, and got yanked with still only 2 outs after allowing 3 runs. Gavin Floyd replaced him but also allowed 2 runs.
So what is going on with Brett Cecil? The lights-out, go-to, left-hander from 2015? So far in 2016, he has notched 4 LOSSES despite being a middle reliever and having pitched only 8.2 innings! His ERA is now 5.19 compared to 2.48 last season. On Monday’s game, he came in in a fairly low leverage situation with 2 on but a 4-run lead. The lead dropped to 1-run and he couldn’t get an out.
Looking at this year’s scatter plot vs last year, it looks like he’s given up on the changeup, but otherwise, looks fairly the same except for a slow end curveball.
Batters do not appear to be whiffing at the curveball and sinkers. So maybe he has to figure out another way to strike batters out? Personally, I think he’s just out of shape. He looks off balance on the mound and he has gained all the weight that Dickey has lost. He had been a bit better lately until this game, but boy do the Jays need him to sort himself out. Imagine how the playoffs would have turned out if Cecil 2015 had not been injured and had played when the team needed him?
Starting the season in AAA must be a hard pill for Drew Hutchison to swallow. But he gave a good effort in his spot start on Sunday and the Jays won 6-3 leading to a series win! Everyone got a hit except Troy Tulowitzki who did get a walk. Jose Bautista had a homerun and none other than Ezequiel Carrera who’s had the weekend of his career.
Sadly for Drew, he’ll be back with the Bisons Tuesday. Not only is he not in the big leagues, he’s in BUFFALO! That kinda sucks.
Ohhh…so many good things about Saturday’s 9-3 win over the Oakland A’s at the Rogers Centre. The dome was closed. The game was sold out. Not surprisingly, the Jays are ranked 4th in attendance for their home games this year. Oakland’s 5-game win streak is over. The Jays 3-game losing streak is done. All is good.
J. A. Happ pitched 7 innings and allowed 3 runs. He did this despite only 1 strikeout, the first batter in the 1st inning. He also had only 1 walk and the 2nd batter hit a homerun. But otherwise, the Blue Jay defense neutralized the offense.
Gavin Floyd pitched the remaining 2 innings and did not allow any runs.
There was a bit of drama in the 6th when recently traded Liam Hendricks hit Donaldson with a pitch. In the 7th, Happ retaliated by hitting Khris Davis with a pitch (that he caught with his armpit). Gibby didn’t believe these were intentional. Gregg Zaun though for sure Happ’s was intentional. He may not have meant to hit the batter but threw inside as if to say, ‘Hey, if you keep pitching our guys inside, we’re going to have to do the same.’ The way Happ hit his glove afterward, suggests to me that at least he didn’t intend to hit the pitcher. This drama led to warnings issued to both sides.
Blue Jay defense cleaned up. No passed balls. Three double plays. Even Ezequiel Carrera looked great and made 2 Pillar style layout catches in left field. (I disagree with Gregg Zaun about them being TV dives.) I hadn’t realized that Carrera didn’t speak English until Hazel Mae interviewed him after the game. I mean, he’s rarely interviewed!
And the Offense…
Ahh…the offense that we know and love. Bautista and Martin RBIs to start. Then Josh Donaldson and that classic J. D. swing landed a 3-run homer off Oakland’s Bassitt. That broke the Jays 2-1 lead wide open to 5-1.
What did the Jays do different? Well, they started the game playing small ball. Hit by hit. No one tried to be the hero. Even Bautista seemed so happy to get 2 RBIs despite no hits. When the big bats aren’t working, that’s the way to win a la KC Royals right?
Did you notice…
What a good mood Bautista was in? He was smiling and chatty when he got back to the dugout after the RBIs. That must have lifted everyone’s spirits. Overall, a sign of awesomeness to come.
“The only thing I know is that I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball. I love this game too much,” Colabello said in his statement released by the player’s association. “I hope that before anyone passes judgment on me they can take a look at the man that I am, and everything that I have done to get to where I am in my career.”
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
I’m sorry to say it but there is NO WAY that people aren’t going to pass judgment on any pro athlete who fails a drug test. And from the sounds of Troy Tulowitzki’s comments, some of his teammates are none too happy too. Maybe they don’t believe him. Maybe they’re pissed that he didn’t tell them sooner. Maybe they’re pissed that he kept trying to play these past 17 games and hitting .069. What could he do before they suspended him? Take himself out of the roster?
He is using his long difficult road to the majors as a defence. He is claiming that he would never compromise his career when it took so long to get here. But, maybe he lost patience and wanted a boost to get himself across the finish line by the age of 30. I can’t imagine that he had never had a drug test before. And why dope before spring training when you know that you’re going to get tested?
I think we’ll never know for sure whether he’s innocent. But it doesn’t matter. Even if he took uncertified supplements that were laced with steroids, he’s still responsible. And what a shame considering that he isn’t buff and he isn’t performing well! But I have a feeling this shocking blow could divide the clubhouse. Or maybe it will help them focus. Friday night’s game against the Oakland Athletics kind of fell apart. Was it the news? I don’t know but Sanchez was not the pitcher he’s been and gave up 6 runs before they finally yanked him in the 5th inning. But the Blue Jays did battle back run by run to get back to 6-5. When Osuna came to the mound, there was hope that magic would happen. If it was September 2015, it would have. But there isn’t much spark or magic yet within this club. Hoping they ignite today.
Some mornings when I’m writing a post after the Blue Jays have lost, it feels like I’m writing a post-mortem.
Video Recap April 21
Jose Bautista continued to be angry. Looked like this ump hated both sides with a staring contest with Bautista and an ejection of Matt Wieters of the Orioles in the 5th inning.
After seeing Donaldson’s 2015 catch in the stands on the highlight reel like a hundred times, I didn’t expect to see him miss one. This Trumbo foul shot, Donaldson had in his glove, but dropped when he fell into the stands. This time, he didn’t have Toronto fans protecting his face.
Pitching and Offense
The talk all off-season was ‘the starting rotation…, the starting rotation…’ and the offense was a given. Well the starting rotation is just fine, but what is with the offense?
The 3 key offensive players, Edwin Encarnacion (AVG .299), Josh Donaldson (not Josh MacDonald, Buck) (AVG .284), and Jose Bautista (AVG .276) have been doing fine and Michael Saunders (AVG .321) seems happy in the leadoff spot. The Jays were 5-7 with Pillar in leadoff, and 3-2 with Saunders in leadoff. But the rest of the lineup is still struggling with 2 and a half hitters still below .200.
Passed balls and Permeable gloves
Remember how disappointing Wednesday night’s game was when Joe Biagini got his signs crossed and threw the wrong pitch to Josh Thole. Thole who tends to turn his glove away towards balls pitched towards his opposite side, allowed a passed ball which scored the tie-breaking 10th inning run. Thole looked like he was going to cry. A lot of people asked, why wasn’t Russell Martin in there instead? Well, turns out, the very next day, Martin also allowed a passed ball pitched from Brett Cecil in the the bottom of the 8th. This allowed Joey Rickard to advance to 2nd, which then allowed the tie-breaking run when Bautista couldn’t come up with Manny Machado’s bloop to right field.
Machado also got a fluke hit after his line drive went right through the webbing of Donaldson’s glove. It’s interesting to hear opposing team commentary. The Orioles commentator’s statement was ‘that’s why you’re not supposed to catch the ball with the webbing’. Whatever dude.
Same thing happened to Tulowitzki’s glove on April 5th. This one was predictable since his glove has been on it’s last legs for a while.
Sigh. Overall, considering the Blue Jay bats are stale, they are still managing to hover around a .500 record. If they could just clean up a few things, they could still stay in the running. If they clean up their defense which for the most part is great, AND the bats wake up, they really should be unstoppable, right? Sounds easier said than done.