Fuck Masahiro Tanaka has been good so far for the New York Yankees. And frankly, for their sake, he’s had to have been. The names in the lineup that you see below are certainly intimidating, but offensively the Yankees have struggled this year. So far. They’ve produced the third worst wRC+ of any American League team, and the Jays have four hitters with higher numbers in that stat than the Yankees’ best hitter, Mark Teixeira. There are six Blue Jays — Bautista, Lind, Encarnacion, Francisco, Cabrera, and Steve effing Tolleson! — who’ve produced more wRC+ than the Yanks’ second-best hitter.
Hey, but at least they’ve got terrible infield defence and the regression-due Chase Whitely going tomorrow night against Mark Buehrle, and a less-than-favourable matchup in Thursday’s series finale with David Phelps taking on Drew Hutchison, right?
Well, yeah. And yeah, they’re pretty old, so it’s not a given that some of those bats will heat up, but will all of Beltran, McCann, and Jeter continue to hover around 80 wRC+? Will they find some way to mortgage whatever prospects they can scrape together — prospects they don’t really need that in the same way the Jays do, since the Yankees fill their big league roster with free agents anyway — and find a piece that can help them keep clawing back the Jays’ division lead?
It’s not out of the question.
It’s still early. So many folks, in a dipshit rush to declare the Jays fucked and to satiate their need to be shitty, negative shits in peoples’ cuts, didn’t want to hear that last year, but it was as true at this point then as it is now. Fortunately for the 2014 Jays, as anyone remotely realistic fully acknowledged — another thing suckholes didn’t want to hear — having a long season ahead doesn’t mean that it’s not terrifically difficult to claw back a bunch of games.
Just don’t get swept. More than anything about “a big series” or a “statement” or anything like that… just don’t get swept.
That’s not to say that losing series’ is acceptable — obviously the Jays will have to keep doing better than that — but if the Jays lose all three the Yankees go from 4.5 back to within a game and a half, and but if the Jays win just one, the best the Yankees can do head into the weekend 3.5 games behind.
Yeah, it’s just simple math, but it’s also perspective.
And shit, with Marcus Stroman going into his home town, under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium, facing an almost hopeless task against one of the best pitchers in the world right now — though, it should be noted (as it was on Twitter several times early today by the Jays’ beat reporters), Tanka’s lone loss so far this year came in the only other game in which he was facing a team for a second time — why the hell couldn’t he pitch his ass off tonight? I’d believe it.
But even if they only win one of these three, even if it’s obviously not ideal, I can live with that.
This Stroman-Tanaka matchup is baseball’s most watchable this evening — or so says Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs and his NERD Game Scores.
Not mentioned (at least not by me in the earlier Delabar item) was the fact that John Gibbons mentioned today that R.A. Dickey is fine. He, of course, left his last start early due to a leg or groin thing or something. I don’t know. Everything’s been a blur since Holland 5 – Spain 1, honestly.
Another thing not mentioned here: Sergio Santos has been activated, and Darin “Pat” Mastroianni has been optioned back to Buffalo. No, really! It happened! (Unless it was a DFA, but I don’t think so.)
I did mention, though, that Cecil could go “in a pinch” today, while Lind will hopefully only need a couple of days. And Colby Rasmus is getting real close, too. “It could be any day,” Anthopoulos says, according to a tweet from Brendan Kennedy. So that’s not bad.
“Why not DL Lind and call up Dan Johnson? Why Kawasaki over Goins? ‘None of your business,’ Gibby said, cheerily,” tweets Brendan. OK then.
Barry Davis tweets that Alex Anthopoulos says that trade talk is — finally — starting to heat up, “but right now it’s just preliminary. Lots of team inquiring about prospects.”
More from AA: Scott MacArthur tweets that the GM says Brandon Morrow will begin throwing on Friday. Fingers crossed! Er…. well… not the one with the fucked up tendon sheath, but the others!
Scott adds that Anthopoulos says that he’s encouraged by the progress in negotiations with first round pick Jeff Hoffman.
Anthopoulos says that he’s not focussed solely on pitching in the trade talks that he’s having — he’d be happy to improve the club however he can. John Lott tweets this quote from the GM: “We’re basically canvassing the clubs to see who’s available. In some of the conversations, players we didn’t think were available are.” I know he always says that, but… hmmm…
Barry Davis tweets that John Gibbons was noticeably without chewing tobacco today, and that the Jays’ manager says that Tony Gywnn’s premature death this week prompted him to try to give it up.
Jose Bautista’s first inning at bat on Sunday was slightly terrific, if you ask me. He made a very demonstrative groan after thinking he’d walked on a 3-1 pitch that was a rather generously called a ball, then got back into the box, refocussed, and hit the next pitch — a second straight fastball, in almost in the same location — the opposite way into the right-centre alley for an RBI double. “A nice piece of hitting,” we were probably told by the TV broadcast. Or something like that. It was, though! (Here’s the strikezone plot via Brooks.)
So so so so so fucking weird that the Jays would be pitching so much better than last year now that they’re using defensive shifts again, innit? I mean, I know there are other reasons that are part of it, but seriously! Their starters are currently tied with the Angels’ group for the second-lowest ERA in the American League. Shit is fucked.
While we’re here, a reminder that our old friend Bergkamp makes awesome Dutch comfort food at The Ossington on Sundays, and he’s be kicking that enterprise into high gear for all of the Netherlands’ matches during the World Cup. There might even be more than three! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet. What we can do, though, is throw on some orange and head over there tomorrow for the 12 noon display of frustration against a stingy Australian side. In the meantime, check out Borrel at the Ossington for a taste (see what I just did there?) of what you can expect. Hup Holland hup!
Don’t forget: PITCH #4 is fast approaching — it takes place this Thursday, June 19th — and for those of you who missed the announcement, I’ll be one of the panelists, along with a much more talented group, featuring Jonah Keri, Michael Grange, and Morgan Campbell. Tickets are still available, so grab yourself some here, and be sure to follow @PitchTalks for all the info you need.
Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:05 PM ET @ Yankees
For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.
And now, the lineups…
Toronto Blue Jays
SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
2B Brett Lawrie (R)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
DH Juan Francisco (L)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
CF Anthony Gose (L)
RHP Marcus Stroman
New York Yankees
LF Brett Gardner (L)
SS Derek Jeter (R)
CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L)
1B Mark Teixeira (S)
C Brian McCann (L)
DH Carlos Beltran (S)
RF Ichiro! (L)
2B Brian Roberts (S)
3B Kelly Johnson (L)
RHP Masahiro Tanaka