What We Learned From Blue Jays Opening Losses


Apr 2, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) reacts to a called strike by home plate umpire Jeff Nelson against the Cleveland Indians at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY SportsWell, let’s be honest, the first two games of the season did not go as well as Toronto Blue Jays fans would have liked. Amid the hype and heightened expectations, there was likely very little room for error to begin with, so it is understandable for people to be a bit disappointed in the early outcomes.

However, it is important to stress the word “early” in that sentence.

So like it or not, the Blue Jays lost their first two games of the season. As fans, pundits, bloggers, whatever, we move on and we gather ourselves to cheer them on for games three, four, 75, 158, you get the point. What we also do is take away from these games what we can.

The Bad

Let’s start with the bad, because it gets it out of the way and it helps us leave things on a good note.

J.P. Arencibia showed us why Toronto brought in not one, but two different catchers who are familiar with the knuckle-ball. Look, I love J.P.’s gumption as much as anyone, but desire to catch a knuckle-ball does not make it easier to catch a knuckle-ball. J.P. tied the club record for passed balls in a game, in just two innings of play. He’ll get a few more starts with Dickey on the mound, but we need to gear ourselves for the fact that Blanco is likely to get the bulk of those starts.

– Speaking of the knuckle-ball, it is unpredictable. R.A. Dickey did not become an overnight sensation throwing it and he likely will not always pitch like one. His Opening Night performance with four walks showed just how hard it is to consistently harness the knuckler. There’s be nights when he is lights out, but there will be nights when he struggles to find the plate, and those nights will frustrate us to no end.

Colby Rasmus was already on thin ice with Blue Jays fans as it was, so we were looking for him to get off to a fast start in order to quiet some of those worries. That said, Rasmus is hitless in 7 at-bats heading into Thursday’s action with four strike-outs. The announcers keep talking about how he is more relaxed at the plate, but to me, he looks uneasy and uncomfortable. Rasmus needs to get comfortable and quickly before fans start calling for Anthony Gose.

– Another batter we are closely watching is Adam Lind. Lind had a great spring, but thus far has left 6 men on base in the first two games of the season. Lind likely has a bit more rope than Rasmus, especially after that strong spring, and because the Blue Jays do not really have a better alternative at the present time.

The Good

– You have to be encouraged by Brandon Morrow‘s first performance of the season, throwing 6 innings, while giving up one run and striking out 8. He will continue to benefit from being slotted in behind Dickey, so as long as he can stay healthy and keeps his pitch counts in check, this could be a big season for Morrow.

– I’m really liking what I have seen from the bullpen thus far. Yes, Santos took the loss in the 11th on Wednesday night, but the bullpen has thrown 8 innings and surrendered just 6 hits and a single earned run, while walking 3 and striking out 6.

– I was a bit worried coming into the season about how Jose Reyes would transition from fielding on natural grass to the experience of Toronto’s unnatural turf. It wasn’t that I doubted Reyes ability to pick it, but I thought it may take him some time to get used to how the ball got on you as a fielder at Rogers Centre. After the first two games, those worries were silenced.

– How much can you say about Jose Bautista‘s home run?! Yes, it is only one homer on the season, but for him to get it out of the way this early in the season, and to show the quick wrists through the zone, we’re looking forward to having the old Jose back again this season!

Hopefully, game three gives us the one really good thing we’re still looking for; a win!