There is still a glimmer of hope for the Toronto Blue Jays. Yesterday the team showed us what they could really be. Sure it was against the Seattle Mariners and many had penciled in a Blue Jays win before the game even started with Joe Saunders and his 0-3 road record taking the mound, but I’m going to be annoyingly optimistic today. The Blue Jays needed that game if there was ever such a thing as a must-win game in May. Tonight they are back to business facing the only American League East division rival they have yet to battle in the Tampa Bay Rays.
Mark Buehrle (1-2, 6.43 ERA) takes the hill against Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 4.71 ERA). Not exactly an elite pitching matchup but great news for the Blue Jays who are trying to build off yesterday’s 15-hit effort. I was looking forward to this series as a Jays fan but as I look at the numbers on the Rays offence they really aren’t bad but I can’t tell if maybe it’s just because I’m comparing them to the Jays atrocious start. Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Kelly Johnson are all having productive offensive seasons so far. As a team they have an ISO (stat that measures power or ability to hit for extra bases) that ranks 14th in the league at .156, which isn’t great but only slightly behind the powerful Blue Jays. They are also slugging better than the Jays at .404 compared to .394. I actually had to rewrite this part of my post based on how good the Jays did yesterday. More reason for blind optimism! Regardless I think everyone expects we could be in for a high-scoring affair this evening. (Stats courtesy of FanGraphs)
Although I’m still trying to be optimistic, it must be said that the Jays record against Tampa the last couple years has been awful. They haven’t won a series at Tropicana since August 6-8, 2010 and since that time have compiled a 12-30 record including getting decimated last year 14-4. But as Joshua Menezes pointed out earlier, Buehrle and R.A. Dickey have both pitched well against the Rays in the past and with every year brings a new team. I try not to get too hung up on comparing historical performances. However recent none of those losses occurred against this year’s Toronto Blue Jays. Hopefully by the time Friday rolls around we can still say they are undefeated against at least one American League East team.
This GIF from GAMEREAX pretty much sums up what has happened to the Blue Jays after they get our hopes up after a big win:
We are still waiting to hear what type of lineup the Jays will field tonight. Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera have both been a bit banged up. Unfortunately they both can’t play DH so we will have to see if either is held out of the lineup today.
Other Random Stuff:
Buehrle is allowing a brutal 11.3 H/9 and 2.3 HR/9, maybe he doesn’t belong in the AL East… Hellickson hasn’t been great either allowing 8.2 H/9 and 1.5 HR/9, still better than Buehrle though… I only use historical stats when it helps the Blue Jays – despite James Loney‘s recent tear (17 for 34) he’s a career 4 for 24 (1.67) against the Jays (ESPN)
We are starting off today’s LIVE Game Thread with a question for the people – do you still have hope for this year’s Toronto Blue Jays?