After a tough start in New York, what better way to bounce back than by welcoming the defending champs to town for a weekend series?
The Red Sox entered the month of September smarting from a sweep at the hands of the Yankees. Seven callups and one no-hitter later, they've restored their lead over the pinstripers to 6.5 games. They'll look to blow the race open again by throwing three righties at the Jays. That's not the worst idea I've ever heard...
The Jays will encounter a desperate opponent this weekend. The freefalling Mariners have lost six games in a row.
One weekend later, the A's are reeling again.
Thursday night, they marched into Tampa Bay
behind a motivated Chad Gaudin and won 12-2. Then the Rays realized it
was Raymond the Blue Fuzzy Thing's birthday weekend and decided they'd better get their act in gear. So they immediately
turned the tables and massacred the A's three straight times by an
aggregate score of 33-9, hanging three beatings on
Oakland's top three starters. The A's will look to turn things around
at home behind a couple of ex-Jays, both of whom hit their stride as pitchers immediately after leaving Mr Rogers' neighborhood.
So the Jays are nine games out of the wild card. But, liberated from the pressure that accompanies being in serious playoff contention, they still have an opportunity to cause mischief in the AL West race. The Angels' lead over Seattle is down to two games.
Toronto will see an Angels team that has received an infusion of youth since last week. A rejuvenated Ervin Santana, a healthy Howie Kendrick and the much-hyped Brandon Wood are all in the house.
Next up, it's the A's, who are coming off a 4-2 homestand against the AL Central's bottom feeders. Their pitching will be a stiffer challenge than it was the last time the Jays saw them, as Dan Haren and a certain righthander are both scheduled to start, and the Athletics bullpen is almost at full strength again.
Quietly, the Orioles have gone 18-13 in the second half. Their 2008 batting order is starting to take shape - they got to Mariano Rivera twice in the same series earlier this week. The O's also seem to have the makings of a decent pitching staff, as Jeremy Guthrie has been one of the best bargain-basement pickups in baseball and Garrett Olson earned his ticket to Baltimore faster than anyone anticipated. The Jays will see both of those guys this weekend, as well as (groan) Steve Trachsel. Hey, at least it's not Daniel Cabrera, right?
The Angels of Anaheim have the second-best record in baseball, but they're only 3 games ahead of Seattle. The Jays can do their part to help the Mariners make the playoffs by beating up on the Angels, a team against which they've won 37 of their last 54 home games. Los Angeles will send out their two weakest starting pitchers in the first two games of this series, but those two guys have a combined record of 10-1. Thursday's pitching matchup is a must-see.
With their starting rotation finally completely intact, the Blue Jays march into the oppressive, focus-shattering, jersey-melting Kansas City heat, where the Royals have won six of their last seven. The good news is that all four games are night games. The bad news is that the forecast calls for four straight highs above 100 degrees...
Happy Simcoe Day.
Once again, it's an opportunity to take down the Yankees. You know 'em, you love 'em. This time, the Jays will have the dreaded Rogers Centre Mystique and Aura on their side as they look to keep up with the scalding-hot pinstripe offense in three home games.
The Rangers fell in April and never got up. Last week, they decided to clean house and devote the remainder of the season to figuring out what kind of talent they have in-house. So, goodbye to Kenny Lofton, Eric Gagne and Mark Teixeira, all of whom fetched a respectable return on the trade market. And hello to the first wave of prospects, led by Jason Botts and the guy from Atlanta with the long name.
The White Sox find themselves buried in fourth place in the AL Central, a mere 1.5 games ahead of Kansas City. Their starting pitching isn't the problem: they've received ERAs of 3.23, 3.71 and 4.15 from their top three starters, who coincidentally are the three men the Jays have to deal with this weekend.
After neatly disposing of Felix Hernandez, the Jays move on to an even more daunting adversary: Johan Santana. He'll face Shaun Marcum in a quality pitching matchup tonight. Thereafter, the Jays will see two righties they've already seen twice this year.
Of course, it became apparent to me very quickly that they had no extraordinary talent at all. They have fought their way out of a number of tight corners by a simple combination of sheer luck and J.J. Putz. They are mediocre to the last degree, though as obnoxious and self-satisfied as were the White Sox before them. The Jays will do their utmost to have them thrown out of the pennant race, where I believe they scarcely belong...