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.