I’m feeling a bit guilty after having missed my bloggerly duties on the weekend. Life gets in the way sometimes. As penance, though, I’m back with a Friday post, in which I celebrate, lament, and generally overreact to a Blue Jays series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, and look ahead to the next 3-game set in Kansas City.
Beating the Best
It’s disappointing to drop two of three to a division rival. The unbalanced schedule makes damn certain that division records matter when it comes to contending for the post season. In the AL East, the expectation should always be that over the course of a season, the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox are mostly going to kick the holy hell out of non-division teams, eliminating a potential opening for a team like Toronto to rack up non-division wins themselves, in a bid to make up for a weaker record against division rivals. But it is just April, and the Jays will have plenty of opportunities to prove their mettle against the Beasts of the East.
Giving less cause for optimism, though, is the way the late innings in the two losses to Tampa Bay descended into something halfway between comic farce and violent chaos. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.) I do believe that the bullpen is improved from last year, and will be seen as a team strength by the time 162 games are in the books. But if you’re the kind who doubts the relief corps can effectively hold down the fort when leading games, watching them inflate Luke Scott’s RBI totals in back to back games where the team is trailing late is probably not helping much with your faith and rationality. Games that were at least within reach were quickly and emphatically turned into routs. I’m not saying the Jays would have come back in the ninth innings from 4 and 3 runs behind, respectively, but you’d still like to see your mop-up guys actually mop up, not spill another bucket of spoiled mayonnaise onto the kitchen floor on top of the existing mess.
Note - I had erroneously posted that the KC series was three games instead of four, hence the strikethroughs and corrections below. Thanks to the anonymous commenter who pointed out how badly I read my pocket schedule.
The Alex Anthopoulos era in Toronto has been characterized by enthusiasm for the young, high-ceiling arms in the system. The Lansing Lugnuts at low-A have an embarrassment of riches right now, and if you’ve checked in on the reports about Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, and Aaron Sanchez, you may need to stay sitting down for a little while if you know what I mean. With the arrival of Henderson Alvarez last season, the apparent settling-in of Kyle Drabek this year, and now Hutchison’s call-up, we’re starting to see some “green shoots” at the major league level too.
The Jays have