Archive for the ‘Post-Game Post’ Category

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Welp. At least they didn’t waste another solid pitching performance.

This is a frustrating team to watch right now, there is no doubt about it, and the reason why is quite simple: the Jays are not hitting enough.

It’s been bad. But that doesn’t mean that some true identity of this team has been revealed over the last miserable few weeks, though I know that a lot of negative types are being overrun by their emotions and allowing themselves to think such ridiculous things — which, of course, leads to more and more absurd ideas as fans fall deeper and deeper into blind, unchecked negativity: getting concerned about Jose Reyes laughing, overstating the importance of an undeniably atrocious throw home from Colby Rasmus, working it out in their mind to somehow find a way to blame John Gibbons for all this.

The reality is, over the last 30 days the club has been functioning with one truly dangerous hitter, who is now on the DL — Edwin Encarnacion (156 wRC+ in that span). Adam Lind and Jose Bautista have both been playing hurt, and it shows (110 and 106 respectively), and Melky Cabrera has been about what you’d expect (102, powered by a .284/.342/.394 line). Kawasaki, too, at 91 wRC+ with a .348 on-base.

Literally everybody else has been below league average at the plate.

Jose Reyes, now struggling in the field as well, and understandably drawing the ire of the fans, has hit to an 84 wRC+ over that span. Colby Rasmus is at 87. Dioner Navarro, 73. Steve Tolleson, 68. Juan Francisco, 55.

It’s been ugly, but the thing is — the perspective that we really ought to maintain, hard as it may be at the moment — is that’s not who Jose Reyes is. That’s not who a healthy Jose Bautista is. That’s not who a healthy Adam Lind is (at least not against right-handed pitching).

That may not be who Colby Rasmus is (though we’ve certainly seen him be that as well, unfortunately), but on the other hand, given their track records and the favourable platoon matchups they were seeing before injuries started taking their toll elsewhere, I think Francisco and Tolleson can be better than that, too. Probably.

It’s an awful collective slump with the bats, compounded by injuries that are keeping Lawrie and Encarnacion out and exposing the flaws in guys who shouldn’t be asked to see as much big league pitching as they have of late. But as a group, we know they can be better. Even without Encarnacion and Lind, it’s not difficult to imagine them being better.

Of course, the fact that they can be much better doesn’t mean that they will. And if what the track record shows are their real selves do show up, it doesn’t mean that will happen in time for them to stem the tide and stop this tailspin from destroying such a promising season. What’s happening now is what it is. Which also means that it’s not something magical, beyond what we can see, in the hearts of the players or those coaching, managing, or running the organization, in the sporting spirit of this city, or whatever other bullshit gets invented to try to flesh out these fairly simple facts into big narratives that speak to what must be done.

The All-Star break should help. Adding a bat via the trade market should help. Eventually getting Lawrie and Encarnacion back should help. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will help — at least not enough to turn this around and, from a still-solid position in the standings, launch an attack on the second half that gets the club right back to where we expected them to be when we saw through May and early June what they’re capable of at their best — but you absolutely cannot say that it can’t.

If that seems like a message that’s rather tepid in its positivity, well… that’s because it is. Woof. Fuck you, west coast!

Shit, it’s even got ol’ Gibbers down:

Oy.

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So the Jays are no longer in first place. They’re tied, technically, but by percentage points the Orioles are ahead after Baltimore won and the Jays lost tonight.

It was bound to happen.

Look at last year, for example. Thinking back, it sure feels like the Red Sox ran away and hid from the rest of the division early, but the reality is that the Yankees led for all but three days until May 29th, the Rays led variously for six days between July 22nd and the 31st, and for a few more days after that, as late as August 21st — even though on July 4th a year ago they were 6.5 games back.

Things change. Shit, the Tigers led the AL Central wire to wire last season, but only barely, as Cleveland charged at the end, coming from 8.5 games back on August 31st to finish just a game behind Detroit.

That doesn’t mean that we can just slough off every loss like they don’t also add up like the wins in May that built the cushion that has now eroded away did, or that we can’t be upset about and point out genuine problems with the roster or bad patterns that appear they may be emerging, but is anybody actually doing that? Sure maybe it happens in the minds of those myopic shitheads rushing to be the first to forecast doom for this team that, because they’re too lazy to bother trying to grasp any of the big picture stuff about how this sport works, they constantly indulge in taking some laughable victim posture over, but in reality? Nah.

It was always going to be a fight. And yeah, things have gone a little bit sideways of late. The Jays are 9-16 in their last 25 games. Brett Lawrie is out, Juan Francisco is slashing .182/.250/.382 since the start of the St. Louis series, and Steve Tolleson has been even worse. But… whatever. No, really. They need an infielder, yes. They need to get Edwin Encarnacion out of the damn outfield. They could use throwing away a few less winnable games. But it’s a long grind still left — yes, it’s early. The front office is going to be active on the trade front, and they’re certainly not a team that’s going to be six games below .500 for every 25 they play — and the Orioles, who are 20-12 since May 21st, aren’t a 101-win pace team either.

The pitching has been surprisingly good, and that was the case again on Thursday. And they’re still in first place. They’ve been baseball’d out of a few runs of late, with some good pitching performances against, some ill-timed double plays and balls finding gloves — their BABIP over the last 30 days is a fourth-worst-in-MLB .281 — but the Jays are certainly far more capable of producing offence than they’ve shown over this unfortunate stretch. Some might not believe it until they see it, but you’d have to try pretty hard to be pretty blind to the talent on the roster to get there.

It’s not good that they’ve let the lead that they built slip away, even if there never should have been the expectation that it wouldn’t, but they still control their own destiny, and that’s beyond fine. They’re a good team, and there’s absolutely no reason to believe they won’t continue to be right in the thick of it. They might not end up making the playoffs, but that was always the case — and if it turns out that way, it won’t for a reason that any asshole should take as an affront to their hopes and desires, it will be because it was a thing that didn’t happen. That’s sort of how it works. The margins are thin in the day-to-day, and it can be frustrating, but it’s all about the big picture, and for the Jays that one still looks bright. Shit, if what looked like a surefire Reyes double in the eighth off Otero gets down — or maybe even if Josh Thole doesn’t butcher his way into making it a double play — it’s very possibly that none of this discussion would even be necessary. Think about that.

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Um… fuck bunts and all that, and those umpires, and the way J.A. Happ pitched in the third inning (but not the rest of the time), and whatever the hell Tim and Sid are talking about right now, but… whatever. Whatever. EDWING!!!! WALK-ARNACI-OFF!

OK, I’ll show myself out. But not until after this:

Uh… and this:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Drew Huthchison pitched great. John Gibbons left him in to clean up his own seventh-inning mess and it actually paid off for once. Dustin McGowan pitched great. Casey Janssen pitched great. Jose Bautista reminded us of why we missed him so much when he was out of the lineup. Melky and Edwin produced a couple of nice insurance runs in the ninth. The stadium was packed. The day was beautiful. The crass overtures toward our patriotic heartstrings were wholly appropriate. Baseball smiled at us and reminded us of the good days — y`know: May.

I can live with that.

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Um… hang on a second… it… uh… it says here that J.A. Happ threw 7.2 innings of four-hit, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball tonight? That… uh… really??? Shit, I’d better check in the morning just to make sure that’s really right.

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It was a baseball game.

Hutchison could have pitched better but was OK. The Jays could use Bautista and Lawrie back. They could use adding a reliever or two, for sure, and an infielder, probably more than they even need a starting pitcher. Rob Rasmussen can’t be relied on. Some things went the Jays’ way, more things went the Yankees’ way. I dunno.

I guess not pinch hitting for Adam Lind against the left-handed Matt Thornton in the seventh was a thing? Surely more complicated than the FYRE GOBBONS brigade would lead you to believe, I’d bet, but… still… yeah… not something you really want to see, either.

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Holy shit! As evidenced by the post below, it was all shits and giggles at the point when the Jays went up 6-0 in this one, thanks to a Dioner Navarro home run and a Jeter-aided three-run double from Colby Rasmus. But the Yankee statue retaliated immediately, dropping a solo shot into the left field bullpen in the top half of the next inning. Not long after, things turned real ugly real quick, with the Yankees putting up five more runs of their own in a wild seventh inning. Mark Buehrle kept painting the way he’d done all game by striking out Carlos Beltran, but a Brian McCann double (on a ball painfully nearly caught by Melky Cabrera) and a Brian Roberts wall-scraper followed, bringing the score to 6-3. Buehrle got a flyout from Yangervis Solarte for the second out of the inning, but a Brett Gardner double ended his night. Dustin McGowan, looking especially shaky, and promptly walked Jeter, gave up a run-scoring single to Ellsbury on which Melky eggs erroneously threw home (though McGowan did a garbage job of backing up the catcher on the play). Mark Teixeira then nearly killed Edwin Encarnacion. He hit bouncing grounder up the middle, which Reyes — who was to the right of second base because of a shift — got to behind second base. The out-of-position shortstop twisted his body (not planting properly, perhaps because of a knee still sore from a weekend injury?), threw in the opposite direction of where he was moving, and — not for the first time on the evening — short-hopped the throw, which Encarnacion couldn’t scoop. Tough throw, tough scoop, but a play that should have been made. Worse still, Edwin tumbled a bit after stretching for the ball, and his head ended up exactly in the path Teixeira’s elbow, and the result — even apart from the two runs that scored to tie the game — looked bad. Like… concussion bad. Or, at first, ball-in-the-face bad. Gasping, heart-in-throat, season-over kind of bad. And yet he stayed in the game. He seemed groggy — he didn’t seem to realize he’d taken a walk from Dellin Betances to lead off the eighth — but he went first-to-third on a Dioner Navarro single with one out, though he ultimately didn’t score. And it was almost better that he didn’t. Casey Janssen kept the Yankees off the board in the top of the 9th, working around a Brett Gardner single, and then it was back to Reyes. Jose Reyes, who had been the subject of so much inchoate, knee-jerk, sputtering ire from a segment of Jays fans — after a rough night he got a Bronx cheer when he successfully threw out Brian McCann in the eighth — laced a fucking perfect double into the right field corner, and before you knew it, Cabrera bounced a bunt to third that was fielded by Yangervis Solarte, who sailed his throw to first, allowing Reyes to trot home as the winning run.

What a relief! What a game! What a disgrace that fans were hating on Reyes — though, yes, his play was poor, and he hasn’t been great of late — but what a game! I could say a bunch of nonsense like “this is a game that they wouldn’t have won in 2013″ or whatever mystical, magical bullshit you’re supposed to believe in when your team does a thing like this, but let’s not go nuts, and let’s maybe just let this one go. If Edwin is OK — along with Adam Lind, who fouled a ball exactly off the spot where he bruised his foot last week and nearly had to hit the DL — that’s all any of us should ever need from this one. Because that was scary. Fuck!