The final score might suggest that this one was a laugher, but in reality it was anything but. Starters Mark Buehrle and Jake Arrieta both went deep into the game, allowing only two earned runs each, but things began to unravel for the Cubs in the bottom of the seventh. A one-out Kevin Pillar single was followed by a pinch hit single from Colby Rasmus, a Munenori Kawasaki walk, and then — after a Jose Reyes strikeout, and with the crowd rising to its feet (in the seventh inning!) — Jose Bautista laced a full count three-run double into the left field corner, and the Jays would never look back.
Or… well… they looked back a few times after that, but only to see just where in the hell the Cubs fielders had managed to launch the ball to in their subsequent, horrifically executed attempts at defence. A game fraught with tension when Bautista made it 4-2 came to a perfectly relaxed ended as the Jays scored five more runs in the bottom of the eighth. We had a Dalton Pompey sighting. We watched Daniel Norris close it out, after Aaron Sanchez wasn’t needed to come out to complete a two-inning save in the ninth. We had… this:
Good times! Especially with both the Clevelands and the Yankees losing tonight, too. The Jays have, at least for now, leapfrogged both of those teams, meaning only the Mariners (who the Jays host for four games later this month), and whichever of Kansas City or Detroit isn’t holding the AL Central lead, stand between the fucking Toronto Blue Jays and the second Wild Card spot. That doesn’t exactly make their task easy — the Jays are still 4.5 games back, and six back of the sinking A’s — but it makes it a whole lot easier than it would have been they hadn’t gotten back on the winning track in these first two games against the Cubs. And it didn’t always look like that was going to be the case tonight, as the graph above shows.
Maybe it’s not “meaningful” baseball in the traditional sense, maybe it’s “too little too late,” but try telling that to the 17,000 people who rose from their seats to cheer with two outs in the seventh inning of this one, or those of us who watched from home with the same rapt attention.
This is fun.
I really wanted to use the Colby Rasmus chicken dog pic for this one, since it’s so outstanding, and since Colby’s pinch-hit 10th inning home run — coming, as it did, on the heels of him basically being told he wasn’t needed for the rest of the season — was terrific in all kinds of ways. However, I couldn’t not use the image of the win probability chart here, since it’s pretty spectacular too. And frankly, maybe that’s for the best, because there were more stories in this one than just Colby. Casey Janssen had his own little dish of redemption, Mark Buehrle allowed six baserunners over eight innings, and Brett Cecil pitched his way out of a jam like a fucking boss.
In all, that was actually a pretty terrific, tense baseball game. And it means a sweep in Tampa and now five straight, with scoreboard watching, for the first time in a long time, actually feeling like it’s of some consequence!
Colby, though. The best. And just in case you needed more reason to believe…
Gold. All of it, everything, these whole last five games and this weird, probably fleeting feeling of September near-relevance — gold.
Now lets get to Boston and fuck ‘em up!
Sweet merciful crap, it’s over!
No! Not Casey Janssen’s career as the Blue Jays’ closer (although…) — I mean the Jays streak of failure at Tropicana Field in Tampa, where they’ve just ensured a series victory for the first time since — to steal a joke from @veep52 — way back when John fucking Gibbons was managing this club! (And back around when I was laying down foul, misanthropic pearls of wisdom like this).
Yep. Pretty much…
Oh, and one more thing: as he slipped down the prospect rankings and the big trades of late 2012 kind of blew up in our faces and we all looked a little more askew at the way the Jays operated, wondering more than ever whether or not they actually know what the fuck they’re doing, I found myself — like a lot of you, I presume — holding back and trying badly to temper expectations for Aaron Sanchez. It… uh… it sure is kinda nice to feel those start to rise again, huh?
One more one more thing: StromanTheBest.
Couldn’t have asked for a better start to September. And with the Tigers’ loss, the Jays now sit 4.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot, and a half game back of leapfrogging both the Yankees and Cleveland, who were both winners tonight.
Oh… and I guess I also have to add this. Because this is awesome:
Runs? Pitching? Two shots left to slay the Tropicana Field beast? That’ll play.
And did Mike Wilner just say it was the Jays’ first win in a series opener in nine tries? Jesus fuck.
Now just do that, like, twenty-five more times, and… uh… holy shit, they only have twenty-five games left! [tugs at inside of shirt collar]
Now that was a fine game of mid-afternoon baseball for a… uh… a… what is this? A Wednesday?
Anyway, that’s more fucking like it, eh Jays? A right proper offensive outburst to distract from the August version of Jays pitching still giving up too many runs, and our learning about the franchise trying to force the Creighton Blue Jays to change their logo, and their history of being frivolously protecting their brand (trying, along with the Rays, to stop a pizza place called Ray Jay’s, and trademark filings against Jay-Z!), and the Enarnacion’s Parrot shirt stuff, and the club’s social media being apparently outsourced to some MLB drone (who accidentally updated the Rangers score on the Jays’ Twitter feed), to that thing some player said to Arash Madani yesterday, which I still haven’t written about, but probably will, even though it’s kinda dumb.
Yep, just a good ol’ solid win to end an abysmal road trip and set up a huge fight for playoff positioning on the upcoming home stand, with opportunities abound, even though it’s the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees coming in. The Jays then go to Tampa, go to Boston, then host the Cubs and the Rays before beginning their two week push against the teams ahead of them (at Baltimore, at New York, vs. Seattle, vs. Baltimore) as the season comes to a close.
They’re still not licked yet. The names are scary and the teams are maybe better than their records show, but the Jays certainly have seven very winnable series coming up, with the three games against the Yankees being the only ones (barring a strong run from Tampa) in which they’ll see a team with a record above .500. It’s a small consolation, but if back in the spring you had told me this is where they’d be at this point (and… y’know… probably didn’t tell me the specific teams they were about to play, only their records) I would sure as fuck have taken it in a heartbeat.
Four games (the amount behind the Jays currently sit in the Wild Card race) can evaporate fast. Shit, so can the 8.5 they now trail the Orioles by.
Ask the Jays.