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"The Blue Jays have reached .500! Remove the stone of shame!"


"Attach the stone of triumph!"


So apparently the Blue Jays have been playing pretty good lately. In the span of two weeks the attitude of the fanbase has changed from lamentations of self-pity to "hey maybe we have a shot after all." Not bad. The reality now is that the team now rests in the same position they've found themselves in almost every season for the past decade: right around .500, a wildcard position in sight but a bunch of teams in front of them. Familiar, right? 

That being said, what the Blue Jays have done in the past twelve or so days has truly been incredible. The fact we can even talk about a wildcard spot with seriousness is a testament to the outstanding level of baseball Toronto fans have witnessed recently. Also, unlike those teams of the past that have started strong but floundered or danced with mediocrity all year, these guys were down and out immediately. They've been to the bottom and survived, and now we can just hope they continue playing like a team with nothing to fear.

Our Game of The Week this week is the June 21st affair against the Baltimore Orioles at the Dome. R.A. Dickey was on the hill for Toronto against O's hurler Jason Hammel.

The Blue Jays jumped on Hammel early, getting a first inning two-out double from Edwin Encarnacion to continue the inning for the invulnerable Adam Lind. Lind waited on a slow looping 1-2 curveball from Hammel and struck it from his shoetops into the right field seats. Adam's quiet, still hands had ignited the Blue Jays offence again. 2-0 Toronto.

Baltimore answered quickly next inning with shortstop J.J, Hardy, who has one of the more bizarre batting stances in the league (he looks like he's trying to tug a flagpole out of the ground or something.) Hardy wasn't able to free that flagpole but he swung it hard against a high knuckler from Dickey, blasting it into left field to cut the score to 2-1.

Both starters settled into their respective games: Dickey baffling Orioles hitters with his bag of tricks and Hammel missing Blue Jay bats with exceptional efficiency. The bottom of the fifth arrived and Maicer Izturis led off with a walk for Toronto. Josh Thole then hit a ground ball to second base that might have been a double play ball had Izturis not gotten a head start on the hit and run. I personally like the hit and run as an offensive strategy but you have to pick your spots with it, and this was a good one so kudos to manager John Gibbons. Emilo Bonifacio hit a ball into rightfield that advanced Izturis to third, allowing Munenori Kawasaki to single in Maicer for the third Blue Jays run. 3-1.

Then Dickey lost it. Nate McLouth led off the top of the sixth with a single and a Nick Markakis walk followed. Adam Jones lined a knuckleball into leftfield to score McLouth and suddenly the go-ahead run was on base for the monstrous power hitter Chris Davis. The major league leader in home runs didn't feel like waiting around, launching a high hard drive into left that sailed over everything on its way into the seats. 5-3 Baltimore. Davis' power is remarkable: he doesn't look like he's swinging hard at all, just a quick flick of his bat and the baseball goes high and deep into the night. Scary.

Edwin Encarnacion is no slouch in the power department either. On this evening he flexed his bat muscles in the bottom of the 6th and smashed a ball over the left field wall, cutting the Orioles lead to 5-4. Ryan Flaherty answered that with a solo blast of his own off Dickey in the 7th and the lead was back to two for Baltimore.

Along came the bottom of the 7th and Izturis was on base again with a single. Nobody else could get anything going until with two out Kawasaki came up. With a swing that may have surprised Muni himself, he turned on a high pitch from Tommy Hunter and pulled it just squeaking into the right field bullpen, tying the game and sending the home crowd into a frenzy. 6-6.

There was some unpleasantness later this inning between Jose Bautista and Orioles reliever Darren O'Day. Joey Bats didn't like the way O'Day celebrated after striking him out and blah blah blah back to the game.

Bottom of the ninth, still tied at 6, lefty Brian (the 'Z' is for flavour) Matusz was in for the Orioles. Maicer Izturis again got aboard with a single and up came Josh Thole. It was a textbook bunt situation and Thole executed perfectly, deadening a high Matusz fastball and dropping it inbetween the pitcher and third baseman. Thole was barely out at first and Izturis had advanced to second, only one out. Mark DeRosa was summoned to pinch hit and was intentionally walked, so Baltimore could maintain the platoon advantage against left-handed hitting Kawasaki.

Muni was a little anxious this at-bat, clearly wanting to win the game but unable to square up anything Matusz threw at him. Nevertheless he bounced a ball to second base that was impossible for the infield to turn two on. Runners were now at 2nd and 3rd with two out, Rajai Davis was up and so the call to the bullpen came for the right-handed pitcher Pedro Strop.

It's interesting how when we are greatly exposed to certain things and people that their flaws seem so much more apparent and frankly, exaggerated. Davis was a guy last season that everyone ragged on for various reasons, and those reasons were well founded. I've realized though that a lot of that is because we were over-exposed to Davis the player: he was put into a situation of playing time by necessity that was not optimal for his success, and so his flaws as a player became so glaring and enormous. This season has been an entirely different story: Davis has played less overall and more in a role that utilizes his strengths (and give Gibbons some credit here.) As such we seem a bit easier on Rajai these days. The fact he's had a knack of winning games for us early on has certainly helped our amnesia as well, whether it be the great throw to erase a walk-off run in Baltimore or the game winning single to end the extra inning marathon against the Rangers. Remember that guy with the bad jumps in the outfield or the foolhardy stolen base attempts in dumb situations? I sorta do and maybe that memory is around somewhere but I don't care to look for it.

On a 1-1 count, Rajai Davis sliced a single off Strop into short left field to give the Blue Jays a 6-5 victory. FINAL: 7-6 Toronto. (Their then 9th straight victory)

Stat Line to Chew On

12-4, 138.2 IP, 90 H, 28 ER, 6 HR, 41 BB, 143 K (WHIP 0.944, ERA 1.81)

I'm not quite sure people realize just how ridiculously good the top four guys in the Blue Jays bullpen (Janssen, Cecil, Loup and Delabar) have been. The only one of those numbers that isn't mouth dropping are the walks (and over half of those belong to Delabar alone.) They throw strikes, they keep the ball inside the fences, and they rarely get beaten.


A winning streak that lasts almost two weeks is sure to help that team escape unpleasantly named divisions. The Blue Jays actually escaped the Division of the Lousy, leap-frogged over the next level and landed in this one. So, it pleases me to introduce:

Division of The Respectable -- Standings (as of June 23rd)

Arizona Diamondbacks            41-34*
Tampa Bay Rays                       39-37      2.5
Cleveland Indians                     38-36      2.5
Toronto Blue Jays                     37-36       3
San Francisco Giants                38-37        3

*first place -- NL West

Game Of The Week -- June 16th to June 22nd | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
earlweaverfan - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 11:52 AM EDT (#275193) #
What is fascinating about us escaping the Division of the Respectable (moving upward) is that we do not have to overcome teams with strong, high-performing starting rotations from top to bottom.  (I recall bemusedly so many recent anxiety attacks over the back end of our rotation.  No one has an impressive back end of the rotation.)

To a degree I don't recall for many years, there are real flaws in the starting rotations of all four of Tampa, Boston, New York and Baltimore.  Put another way, there is only one pitcher in Baltimore that I would fear if we were on our game (Tillman), one pitcher in Tampa (Moore, as we just saw), one in Boston (and only when Lester recovers from his recent slump), and none in New York.  (Of course, there are series in which we can single-handedly make AL East starters look far better than they are - as just happened with Hellickson.) 

So it comes down to how well our own starters perform, how close to their full potential.  Right now, barring injuries, I am most confident about Johnson and Dickey; I remain hopeful about Wang and Rogers, and I am really doubtful about whether Buehrle can compete in the AL East.  Anyway, the rotation don't have to be stars, as they are not competing with stars.  They just have to keep us in the game for six innings, and then let our beautiful bullpen go to work.

I am enthusiastic enough to believe that combination could get us to the top of our division.  Of course, this weekend will tell a tale!

Chuck - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 11:56 AM EDT (#275195) #

one pitcher in Tampa (Moore, as we just saw)

Presumably you are omitting Price because he is hurt.

Richard S.S. - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#275227) #
The attitude of the fair-weather friends of the Team is unimportant because they change like socks. The players on the Team have career stats to support them, so their return to normal was expected. The Jays had a history of winning series, putting together 5, 6, 7 game wining streaks, and had done neither prior to the streak, so it was due to happen. This Team was much better than last year's Team, so getting to .500 was expected.

Through May 4th in Seattle, they hit rock bottom (10-21), and had the 3rd worst record in all of Baseball. After that date, they became the hottest Team in Baseball (28-15) through 23 June. They are now relevant again. The 20 games from 24 June through 14 July are a deciding point for the Season. A 10-10 record is barely acceptable, better is needed. Right now they are 1-2 over the next (3rd) stretch. Our next victim is Boston.
earlweaverfan - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#275228) #
Yes, but Price has been far from his best this year, as well.  5.24 ERA, 74 ERA+   His struggles are a major example of what I mean about the competing rotations this year.

I never quite know whether someone who does poorly, then goes on the DL, had the injury first and then performed poorly as a result, or alternatively, the two conditions are unrelated.  (For example, what is the back story of Morrow's struggles, this year?)

Of course, even if the two events are unrelated, this does not mean that once Price is back, he is not capable of mowing through our order like a well-honed scythe !

dan gordon - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#275232) #
Rogers' stock has dropped about 15% in 2 days now, since the announcement that Verizon may be seeking to enter the Canadian wireless market.  Rogers earns about 65% of its EBITDA from wireless.  It will be interesting to see if this might cause Rogers to decide to spend less on the baseball team.
92-93 - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 03:35 PM EDT (#275235) #
Am I correct in assuming the government won't allow Rogers/Bell to purchase Wind/Mobilicity themselves, dan?
dan gordon - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#275248) #

My understanding is that these types of deals must be OK'd by the CRTC or other government regulatory authorities.  Telus recently dropped their attempt to buy Mobilicity after the government told them they would not allow it. 

I see that today they have approved the Bell takeover of Astral with Bell allowed to keep the English language stations/channels they wanted, including TMN, which was a major asset that Bell was after, however Bell had to agree to accept certain rules that are not going to apply in the same way to their competitors.  I have no idea of the likelihood of Verizon, or whomever, actually buying Wind/Mobilicity, but it would be a pretty big change in the landscape for Rogers if it happened.

Thomas - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 04:34 PM EDT (#275249) #
Nice recap of a really exciting game.
Alex Obal - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 04:41 PM EDT (#275251) #
That Davis homer was something else. 389 feet the other way, totally effortless, a very-little-doubter. It was at that precise moment that I rashly decided the O's were the favorite to win the division.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 27 2013 @ 05:03 PM EDT (#275254) #
To the comment that the Yankees have no pitchers who induce fear, I point out that Kuroda and Sabathia aren't chopped liver, even if they have never reduced opponents to jelly the way that Jim Rice did.
Game Of The Week -- June 16th to June 22nd | 10 comments | Create New Account
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