Archive for the ‘Post-Game Post’ Category

Yeah… so that wasn’t much fun, was it? And hooooooo fucking boy, did it ever bring out the stupid. All sorts of fun stuff about the Jays’ “dumpster diving” and Brad Mills and their need for a pitcher and Drew Hutchison’s home splits and the struggling hitters and their inability to beat the AL East and and and and and and and…

It sure does get a little bit suffocating to feel that to be a part of the conversation you need to push back against deluge of recency bias, especially when the only arguments you have to push with don’t offer a lot of comfort, doesn’t it?

But that’s really where we’re at right now.

The Jays’ bats should get better as the team returns to health from their recent bad run of key injuries. The starting pitching hasn’t been great, but it’s been decent enough and may yet see a reinforcement. The bullpen they should figure out, and shouldn’t have trouble finding cheap pieces with which to do so.

All of this is absolutely true, yet none of it means the Monsters Of May are going to suddenly return and rocket the club to the top of the AL East standings with no need to look back. Health may not be enough. More key players may get hurt and further test the already thin veneer of depth the club has built (which, to be fair, isn’t any different from the depth other clubs have). Shit, they may stay healthy and still not have the horses. And of course if they keep playing the way they’ve been playing since about the second week of June they aren’t going to have a hope in hell of being within sniffing distance when all is said and done.

But that’s just it — that’s why I say “recency bias”. Why would they? Why would anyone else?

The Rays and the Red Sox and the Orioles and the Yankees have been playing well of late, chipping away at what was once the Blue Jays’ lead, and fans have a tendency to believe that at whichever point they’re looking, that’s where reality is. The true talent, they seem to think, of the Blue Jays is what we’ve recently seen, just as the true talent of those other teams is what we’ve recently seen.

Ignore the fact that the Rays and Red Sox were so bad until just recently that the Jays had jumped massively out in front of them, and pretend they’re not capable of ever going that poorly again. Ignore how well we know this Jays team is capable of playing, and why there’s no honest reason to believe they can’t get close to that level again when healthy, and just start sulking because you think you’ve seen this movie before.

Then vent all these angsty feelings online and piss all over anyone who dares to push back against the reality that’s been constructed on this warped foundation.

It’s easy!

And it’s especially easy because nobody can say that the team hasn’t been playing poorly. Nobody can assure anyone that it’s all going to be OK. As in-fucking-sufferable as it is when folks roll their eyes at the suggestion that it’s early — even when it is unequivocally, inarguably still early (and you’d better believe it fucking well is) — you can almost understand why they do it, because it’s been early so many times before and hasn’t worked worked out in our favour in eons. As dumbfounding as it is to see people nitpicking on the club’s waiver wire acquisitions (seriously, find something significant to piss and moan about maybe), it’s not like we all don’t want to see them get better players than Brad Mills, it’s just these are mole hills being made into mountains (and, frankly, like many of the Jays’ other scrap heap finds the Mills thing made sense enough — Jenkins has options and wasn’t being used for more than four or five outs at most, so wasn’t really a long man replacement for Redmond, who it was reasonably decided should get a chance to work in short relief given how well he’s pitched and how poorly so many others have).

Add in the fact that they’ve been going so badly and yes, it’s frustrating. But it’s frustrating for everyone, and especially, I think, for that great many of us who clearly see a season hanging in the balance — fully capable of going either way as it plays out over an exciting, if often frustrating, next ten weeks — and are constantly being asked to view some tinfoil science project made by a hopelessly negative yahoo who either thinks he’s had some kind of “aha” moment or just wants to be the first jumping off the bandwagon screaming that the team is fucked.

Or maybe everyone like that is cool, and it’s all just me.

Whatever the case, I’m certainly having all kinds difficulty not getting sidetracked, and while I know I should be better at ignoring this stuff, when it’s your business to be immersed in the conversation it’s hard not to feel it all rumbling in your direction like a stupid fucking wave coming at you from three sections over as you’re trying to focus your gaze on a key pitch in a key at-bat in the top of the eighth inning with runners on, two outs, and the Jays clinging to a one-run lead. And like those who just can’t help themselves but join in the wave in a crucial moment, I know that everyone just wants to be part of the experience and have the right to cheer in whatever way they please, it’s just… watch the game! You’re ruining it for everybody else!! Watch what a season actually goes like! Watch how teams have ebbs and flows over the course of a year! Watch how a single game itself is never over in the third inning — watch how it’s never a time to start venting like a spoiled child where it may not end in utter embarrassment.

Just watch the damn game. Maybe even try to enjoy it.

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The Jays looked like they were cruising, then Dustin “playing with fire” McGowan happened, and it looked like we were in for another Tropicana Field nightmare, but the bullpen held after McGowan allowed a game-tying two-out home run to Sean Rodriguez (of the three-run variety, after he came in with none on and two outs then issued two walks), and with Grant Balfour pitching for the Rays in the top of the ninth Dan Johnson worked his fourth walk of the night, Juan Francisco struck out for a third time, then Jose Reyes doubled, Steve Tolleson (in for the injured Munenori Kawasaki — day to day with a hamstring issue, but possible he could play tomorrow) doubled in two runs. A Melky walk later and Jose Bautista singled to bring in a third run of the inning, then Casey Janssen locked it down.

The Jays now have two shots at actually winning a series in Tampa, and after the game we learned it’s maybe not as harrowing a task as it originally seemed: David Price was scratched from tomorrow’s start for the Rays after leaving the ballpark early due to some kind of illness. Jake Odorizzi gets the call Saturday against Drew Hutchison, and while it’s possible Price could start on Sunday instead, this is obviously a break — kind of like the ones the Jays got when the soft singles that cashed the winning runs dropped, and ones they definitely weren’t getting earlier in this road trip.

Less good: Nolan Reimold, who has been hot to start his Jays career, also left the game, and will undergo an MRI on his calf tomorrow. Apparently with the 4 PM start they have enough time to get someone up from Buffalo if he hits the DL. Ugh.

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WAS THAT SO FUCKING HARD???!??

(Also, FYI: #Kratzup).

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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.