Did I say panic last week? What the hell was I talking about?
Thanks to a particularly cranky rant by The Score’s resident snot Andrew Stoeten, I feel I need to address this quickly and then move on. Last week, I wrote “the Blue Jays need to panic.” What I really meant was “play with urgency.” The Jays needed to start playing with some urgency, some kind of importance. It’s similar to “panic” but doesn’t have the same ring to it. ”Panic” generally means chaos is involved and that’s not what I meant for this team. Not before July 31st (trade deadline) anyway. If the team fails, the front office SHOULD panic since this team was built to win NOW. I had a nice long talk with some better baseball minds than Stoeten and they don’t think I’m crazy for thinking this way. However, there’s no doubt Stoeten has a bright baseball mind. He’s on The Score for a reason. So I will not write him off like he did with me and that’s all I gotta say bout tha’ aat.
Since I wrote that article last week, OUR Jays (can I say “our” again? They’re winners now, so it’s ok right? Where’s my pink hat?) have not lost a single game. That’s right baby! 6 wins! Zero losses! Victory… is… MINE! I mean, I must have woke them up right?
Yea… right… You have to give credit where credit is due and the Jays players are doing the work! They are, in fact, playing with urgency and like a team. The bats are doing their jobs. The pitchers finally started doing theirs as well. That picture up top is the epitome of what a team looks like. That’s a team that suddenly looks like it’s having fun. This is a team that has suddenly shown life. While the skeptic in me says “Simmer down eh!” you cannot dismiss the fact that this run made things a little more exciting and brought back some hope.
I’m not going to get into the week that was because we have enough writers here, and everywhere else, that have it covered, but Buck Martinez said it right just two nights ago: “…this is a Jays team that (has) got(ten) hot at the right time.” In a span of 1 week’s time, the Jays impressively picked up four games in the AL East (12 GB down to 8 GB) and four and a half in the Wild Card race (10 GB down to 5.5 GB) with five of the six straight victories coming on the road. As Josh Menezes says, that’s “Pro-Gress!”
The most impressive part to this streak is the dominance of it. Again, before we fans all go nuts and say “If we can beat (read as: DESTROY) the Texas Rangers, we can beat anybody,” just know that this was not the same Rangers team from April (17-9) and May (17-11.) Their pitching rotation has been without Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando and their line up has been without 2B Ian Kinsler and 1B/DH Mitch Moreland. Since Kinsler went on the DL May 19th, the Rangers have won only 10 out of their last 26 games.
The Jays did, however, beat Yu Darvish and his 1,439 different kinds of curveball (seriously, he’s got more kinds of curveball than Cool Hand Luc does ice cream.) Not exactly an easy task, especially since most of North America thought there was no chance Esmil Rogers was going to hang with Yu-Know-Who (http://instantrimshot.com/). The Jays did prevail however, and the Jays staff has been stellar in every game since. The last five games have been particularly eye-opening because almost every Blue Jays starter produced a quality start (at least 6 IP, 3 runs or less)… and that’s really understating just how good the starting five have been. Blue Jays pitching has allowed only four runs over the last 45 innings pitched. The birds of the north were +22 in run differential. They pitched two shutouts. Blue Jays starters: 34 IP, 2 ER, 9 BB, 26 K. Three of the starters had WHIPs under one. (Mark Buehrle 0.71, Rogers 0.86, Josh Johnson 0.95.) Pretty damn impressive indeed.
Colorado is weakened too, but again, let’s give credit where credit is due. We fans have been BEGGING Toronto starting pitchers to pick up the slack. We’ve been begging for a consistent stretch since the Jays season began with pla… with high expectations. This week, they answered the call. Hopefully, here’s the first of several good stretches, because the Jays will need this if they want to start mentioning that “P” word I refuse to say right now. That’s the goal. That’s been the goal from the beginning of this season. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this team was… well, one off-season anyway. I’m not saying things are good yet, but they’re definitely improving. Still skeptical? I’m a big fan of Jonah Keri. Check out his latest The 30. You guys should be pretty familiar to him no? (Special thanks goes out to James G for making me aware that Keri happens to be Canadian*) His take is amazing and should leave you feeling good after.