Tagged: Donaldson

This Round Goes to Jose Bautista & the Blue Jays

Ahhh, feels so good to beat the Texas Rangers at home doesn’t it? Toronto Blue Jays win this series 2-1. Not back considering that 2 of 3 games required back-up starting pitchers. Is there a greater nemesis in 2017 than the team with the 23-year-old hoodlum, Rougned Odor, who boxed our beloved Jose in the face? Even if Jose asks for it sometimes with all the glares that he shoots around the league. But hey, that’s the Toronto Blue Jays! We love old guys with attitude. We thrive on their antics and swagger.

Highlights from this series…

Josh Donaldson returned from the disabled list after missing 39 games, and he didn’t suck with a double in his first at bat. (Game 1)

Devon Travis hits his second career grand slam! (Game 2)

Jose Bautista and Rougned Odor both had 3-run homers, but Jose’s won the game, Rougned’s not enough.

Unfortunately, the Jays couldn’t get the bats going in game 3 but there were some positives. Stretched out relief pitcher Joe Biagini had a nice game and completed 6 innings. Russell Martin successfully threw out Elvis Andrus at 2nd (albeit after a wild pitch) and made some solid contact with the ball. (See video). And finally, struggling relief pitcher Jason Grilli was back to his usual self with a shutdown 8th inning and enthusiastic fist pumping (See video).

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Bye-bye post-season, hello off-season

[sigh] Well, it took a few days to get over the AL Championship Series loss to a decimated Cleveland team who eked out win after win… after win after win… against the cold Blue Jays offence. The offence that was revitalized down the stretch and destroyed the much hated Texas Rangers much to the joy of Blue Jay fans (including myself).

But a 4 day break put the bats back on ice and a game 4 will to win by Josh Donaldson wasn’t sustainable.

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Comments by Jose Bautista before Game 5 about the rookie pitcher that was subbing in for Cleveland, left him a laughing stock when the Jays got shut out.

“With our experience in our lineup, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be shaking in his boots more than we are”

-Jose Bautista

I felt upset by the loss. I wanted them to end their season at Rogers with a win. I knew a comeback from a 3-0 deficit was remote, but just wanted to see one more win. And I think the disappointment had more to do with how they played than the loss itself.

The Twitter reaction was interesting. Most tweeters seemed happy and grateful for the second visit to the playoffs and getting to the final four. I get that. If I wasn’t a bandwagon fan, I would be grateful that I wasn’t reliving the 20 odd years where they didn’t make the playoffs at all.

But, I was mostly annoyed that there seemed to be a stubborn and conscious decision by the team not to adjust their approach. This philosophy comes from John Gibbons no doubt. But every other team with success in the playoffs, studied their opponents and adjusted their approach. It’s just necessary in the playoffs isn’t it? How did the Jays not learn their lesson in 2015 when they were killed by Kansas City’s small ball?

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Well, anyway. I will be asking myself these questions for the next 5 months until Spring Training comes around again. As I watch what I hope is a promising transformation of the Jays into an even stronger team. I’m kind of excited and really hope not to be disappointed.

Of all the pending free agents, the only one I’ll really miss is Edwin.

I hope so badly that he comes back, but the man going to get paid, and the Jays may decide that they want a younger, cheaper, left-handed slugger/first baseman instead.

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I’m hoping the Jays’ head office will spend some money. I mean how much $$ did the fans spend this season? I mean it’s ridiculous really. I personally spent a few thousand dollars, and gosh, I don’t even want to count the number of hours.

It was fun, when they won. It sucked when they lost. It was an emotional ride. I guess that’s what being a sports fan is all about.

 

The 6-game homestand

Ok, so the Jays managed to stay afloat over the past couple of weeks while Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista were out on the DL. In addition, MVP Josh Donaldson and superstar hot bat Troy Tulowitzki had to take a few days off for small injuries. So I guess tied for 1st isn’t too bad considering the offense was weak at times and there were strikeouts galore. The bullpen for the most part has covered for some recent glitches in the starting pitching ie, All-stars Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada who have struggled since the introduction of the 6-man rotation. Considering the bullpen also lost a couple of games ie, dominant Roberto Osuna, and struggling Brett Cecil, against the Cleveland Indians, it’s actually quite a surprise to still be in first.

And a relief to have a 6-game homestand against the last place LA Angels and the last place Minnesota Twins.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

RA Dickey (ERA 4.51, WHIP 1.35) vs. Tyler Skaggs (ERA 5.19, WHIP 1.58)
Dickey’s ERA is higher over the last 7 games at 5.68. Skaggs has only pitched 26 innings this season.

Marco Estrada (ERA 3.20, WHIP 1.04) vs. Matt Shoemaker (ERA 4.14, WHIP 1.26)
Marco has struggled a bit his last few starts and his ERA has been 4.38 over the last 7 games. Shoemaker’s ERA however has been better than average at 3.51.

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Estrada ERA 2016 Season by Game

JA Happ (ERA 3.05, WHIP 1.14) vs. Jered Weaver (ERA 5.47, WHIP 1.53)
This matchup is a no-brainer. Happ has been utterly dominant with a league leading 17-3 record and he’s even better the last 7 games with an ERA of 1.85. He seems to be loving the 6-man rotation.

Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano will be starting the series against the Twins.

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Aaron Sanchez will be missing his next start against these last place teams. The Blue Jays are trying to figure out a way to keep him fresh but keep him in the rotation as long as possible and hopefully into the playoffs. He’s been sent down to Dunedin for a break. There’s a cost no matter what you do. You skip starts and you don’t get him pitching and winning. You send him to the bullpen, you lose him for good, but gain potentially a solid reliever, assuming of course he’d be as good as last season. And this is a guy in the Cy Young conversation. What to do…what to do…

OFFENSE

The series vs. the Angels will be a great opportunity to watch one of the best players in baseball Mike Trout. (Here’s hoping he’s off his game.) Our old friend and ex-Jay Cliff Pennington is now with the Angels and we will get to see him again too.

The Angels are in the pits this season but they have 7 batters hitting over .250 in the lineup compared to 6 batters in the Jays. Four of the Angels are hitting over .270 compared to only Donaldson for the Jays.

This series is not going to be as easy as it seems like it should be against a team out of the running. We need a series win and if the offense is working, maybe a sweep!

63 Games

Ok, there are only 99 games left to go and how are the Blue Jays doing? Well, most would say compared to last year’s Jays, they haven’t hit their stride. There have been glimpses of brilliance this year, but for the most part, we’ve witnessed enough meltdowns that there is no lead big enough that instills enough confidence in us to relax.

The Jays had a good run of winning 5 series in a row that included the Yankees and Bosox. But lost their series to Detroit with a couple of ugly ones. So far this current series with the division leading Baltimore Orioles, they are split 1-1. The Jays won last night with a walk-off home run in the 10th inning off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion. Normally I would say great! But I attribute this one to luck. EE had gone 0-for-19 before that at bat, and he pretty much just swung as hard as he could and he got it over the opposite field wall. The Jays couldn’t ‘manufacture’ a run. I think they just got lucky off a relief pitcher who had only given up 1 other home run this season. That to me says that we can’t yet expect that to happen often.

The highlight was that the bullpen including Chavez, Osuna, and Storen didn’t give up any runs.

So how are the Jays doing compared to 2015?

After 63 games, the Jays record is 33-30. After 63 games in 2015, 33-30!

Ok, doesn’t seem so bad, but big changes came at the trade deadline bringing in Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, and LaTroy Hawkins. A big boost like that is not expected this year.

The split for 1-run games so far is 7-12 (.368). In 2015, 15-28 (.349).

A lot has been said about how poorly the Jays have done in 1-run games. But it seems like it’s pretty how it was last year, if not slightly better.

How did the Jays do by month in 2015?

Wining percentage 2015:
Apr  .478
May  .414
Jun  .667
Jul  .480
Aug  .778
Sep  .667

So far in 2016, Apr .440, May .586. So in fact, May this year was better than last year. Maybe June will be better like 2015.

How is the hitting compared to 2015 and is there hope for improvement?

I think it’s hard to compare because there has been some shuffling in some positions, but clearly the team as a whole has not been hitting as well as last year. Let’s look at the players who played full-time both years and see who’s got room for improvement.

If looking at batting average, on base percentage, and on base plus slugging…

Josh Donaldson is clearly not his MVP calibre self, but this year’s numbers are not that much different from 2014 so he might not repeat his 2013 and 2015 performances.

Jose Bautista‘s batting average is lower than 2015 but actually he’s not too far off his 2016 projections.

Kevin Pillar probably isn’t too far off his potential looking at his career performance so although not performing as well as last year, may not be expected to get much better over the year.

Russell Martin is below his previous 2 years with the Jays, so he is the one guy clearly hitting under his potential and who will hopefully continue to move back towards his usual level of hitting.

Edwin Encarnacion has also not yet hit his stride. He’s traditionally been a slow starter so he should get to where he’s been and we should see continued improvement.

Justin Smoak on the upside has been better than 2015 having the opportunity to play every day.

So is there hope for the offense? We could see a dramatic improvement in the hitting. We need 1) Martin and Encarnacion to get back to where they’ve been on average. We’d also like to see 2) Tulowitzki figure out how to get back to his pre-Blue Jay self. That would be a mega-boost to the offense.

 

The turnaround

The Jays have won the 1st game in their series against division rivals the Boston Red Sox. The Jays have a 4-game win streak and a 4-series win streak that they’re trying to make 5. R. A. Dickey beat the Red Sox for the 1st time after 9 losses, and David Price lost to the Jays for the 1st time in 5 years.

Two home runs for the Jays by Edwin Encarnacion and the newly rehabilitated Devon Travis. Since Jose Bautista  took lead off and Devon Travis came back, and with Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list (DL), the Jays have been hot. Not smoking yet, but hot. That is without Bautista or Donaldson heating up.

What’s been the turning point? Well, Russell Martin’s been starting to hit after an abysmal 1st 3rd to the season. Ryan Goins who has been a cold hitter has been replaced by Travis. And Tulowitzki, who had been starting to warm up a bit before going on the DL, has been replaced with Barney who has been great defensively and getting timely hits offensively. That has turned the lineup around.

The starting pitching remains strong and Dickey’s getting stronger. Stroman however, has been wavering a bit. And the bullpen just got an infusion of strikeout skill with the acquisition of Jason Grilli, who has done just fine in 2 appearances.

Here’s hoping the team stays healthy and keeps it going! Today’s game starts at 4pm.

 

Donaldson’s game

While Jose Bautista sat out his UNdeserved 1-game suspension, the Toronto Blue Jays, well, pretty much Josh Donaldson, overcame the AL East leading Boston Red Sox. A few defensive snaffoos but JD overcame those with 5 RBIs, 2 home runs and a double play off a line drive with the bases loaded. It was the 3rd time JD had 5+RBIs and the first time this season with a multi-home run game. Roberto Osuna remained the pillar of the Jays bullpen with a shutout 9th inning, his 11th save of the season.

Troy Tulowitzki had what are increasingly characteristic at bats with 3 strikeouts and an uncharacteristic overthrow to Justin Smoak at first base. He also got beaned up in the shoulder. The BoSox are a classy team though and you can see the catcher checking on Tulowitzki after the hit. I feel like Tulo plays better without the chip on his shoulder. He’s not a chip on the shoulder kind of guy as opposed to some of the other Blue Jay guys. Maybe if he lets that go a bit, he can do better.

Kevin Pillar and Michael Saunders missed what appeared to be a routine fly ball after getting their signals crossed (or having no signals at all).

Don’t worry, Bautista kept himself busy trying his hand at the PA in the 4th announcing Kevin ‘I can catch everything’ Pillar. And he attended the last game of the Toronto Raptors groundbreaking season with PK Subban.

How sad is this image? KLow gave it everything. What an amazing season. Let’s not forget the Raptors made it to the final 4 with the Warriors, Cavaliers and OKC!

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The Stench of Odor

I’ve never liked Rougned Odor, but I didn’t know why. Now I do. Doesn’t he look like someone?

What I don’t get about baseball is why it’s not ok to flip a bat in the biggest moment of your career, but it’s ok to shove and punch someone? At least, can we drop the bat flip discussion and talk about what a piece of crap Odor is?

So, yeah, the Jays lost, but that is not the headline of Sunday’s game against the Texas Rangers. The full on brawl was. The Rangers pulled a cheesy move and had their rookie (who’s been in jail by the way, for something foolish like a DUI) hit Jose Bautista in the 8th inning during his last at bat of the game, during the 7th game they’ve played, the last meeting of the year. The umps (same ones from the playoffs against Texas last year), issued warnings which probably fueled the fire. They should have left it alone or ejected the pitcher.

So Bautista slid into Odor without hurting him, then Odor freaks out like the freak that he is. After things settled, Chavez promptly hit Prince Fielder nice and gently in the leg. All in all, 5 Jays were ejected today. Tim Leifer (1st base coach), John Gibbons (manager), Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson (not sure why), and Jesse Chavez. Bizarre and wild game. These two teams are going to go at it for a while.