Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (17-24) @ New York Yankees (25-16)
May 15, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) and left fielder Emilio Bonifacio (1) and center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) get congratulated by second baseman Maicer Izturis (3) and shortstop Munenori Kawasaki (66) after a win against the San Francisco Giants at the Rogers Centre. Toronto defeated San Francisco 11-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
With Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay leading the charge the Toron…oh wait. This isn’t 2007. Seems like something that would have been written back in the glory days of the Ricciardi era. Unfortunately (well for us, not for them) they are now plying their trade against our next opponent….the frikken Yankees.
How can this be? Wells played poorly average in Toronto in 2010, gets traded in almost the biggest salary dump in MLB history before the 2011 season (than YOU Art Moreno), is relegated to 5th outfielder status as the likes of Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout take his at bats and then in another beauty, the Yankees come calling because of serious injury issues and just needed a warm body to play the outfield until Curtis Granderson et al returned from the DL. Funny thing is, Wells has started to mash. Mash like he did when he was the star player for YOUR Toronto Blue Jays. Look at his slash line… .295/.354/.527. Couple that with his re-discovery of hitting home runs with 10 so far and you have 27 year old Vernon in his 34 year old body (he even has 4 steals!).
It is players like that that keep the Yankees afloat. Even in dire times when injuries ravage them they still manage to find the rose in a pile of retread mud. They are like the Illuminati of the baseball world…almost unstoppable. I yearn for the 80’s when they were a dysfunctional caricature of themselves…
Game 1: Mark Buehrle (1-2, 6.19 ERA) vs Hiroki Kuroda (5-2, 2.31 ERA)
Game 2: Brandon Morrow (1-2, 4.69 ERA) vs David Phelps (1-2, 4.33 ERA)
Game 3: R.A. Dickey (3-5, 4.83 ERA) vs C.C. Sabathia (4-3, 3.19 ERA)
In Game 1, Buehrle is hoping to build off his last start which was by far his best of the season. Better still was the fact he was able to keep the ball in the ballpark at Fenway, which is a feat unto itself. If he is the consistent bulldog he has been reputed to be then this would be a great time to run off a string of victories. The way the offence is clicking right now it would seem an easier task…that is it could be if we can smack a few runs off a growing arch nemesis in Kuroda. Two words to describe Kuroda would be old and goooooood. He is even more dominant at Yankee Stadium where his ERA is 1.93.
The numbers seem to favour the Yankees but when the top of your order is hitting .457 during a 4 game win streak you start to wonder if Kuroda is due for a knock around game. That batting average is brought to you by Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and if you told me a week ago they would be our 1, 2 and 3 hitters I would have thought you got cracked by an Encarnacion bat flying into the seats.
Game 2 sees our potential-stuffed Morrow taking on a wee kid in the Majors who is making only his 4th start of the season in Phelps. Phelps had a 2.51 ERA in the minors with over 500 innings pitched so he has a decent pedigree. Since being inserted into the rotation he has a ridiculous GO/AO of 2.89 and a 3.44 ERA…mind you this was against the Astros, Rockies and Indians. If Morrow is over his neck issues that have held him back for two weeks then this could be a very lopsided game in favour of the good guys.
Game 3 is the proverbial battle of the aces. Dickey seems to finally be getting over his neck and back issues (for now). He tallied 10 Ks and two walks last time out and his knuckleball was really dancing. He allowed two earned runs while recording his team-leading sixth quality start. If he can keep the ball in the park and keep cutting down on his walks, then this could be another game taken by the Jays.
Sabathia has almost looked human lately. In 3 starts this month his ERA is 2.76 but his WHIP is an un-Sabathia like 1.47 and his opp BAA is .284. He is making pitches when he needs to but with his big body he may be on the verge of the inevitable down slide.
The following are the probable line-ups for both squads:
Toronto Blue Jays:
1. LF: Melky Cabrera
2. RF: Jose Bautista
3. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
4. C: J.P. Arencibia
5. DH: Adam Lind
6. 3B: Brett Lawrie
7. CF: Colby Rasmus
8. 2B: Maicer Izturis
9. S: Munenori Kawasaki
New York Yankees:
1. CF: Brett Gardner
2. SS: Jayson Nix
3. 2B: Robinson Cano
4. LF: Vernon Wells
5. 1B: Lyle Overbay
6. DH: Curtis Granderson
7. 3B: David Adams
8. RF: Ichiro Suzuki
9. C: Austin Romine
So it is assumed that most of us willed April away due to it’s horrendous outcome. Here is a little sprinkling of May numbers to show you we are on the right track as a team… .271/.340/.439 which is good for about fourth overall in the American League. The hitters have finally started hitting. Now it is time for the pitchers to deliver. Although the month has looked rosy if you look deeper the Jays pitching has still been atrocious. Our team ERA of 5.20 and WHIP of 1.52 in May is almost the worst in the AL (thank gawd for the Astros). I know this is the offensive league but they boys can only do so much. We need our pitching to come around and get healthy…Ramon Ortiz, as fun as it’s been to watch him, isn’t going to cut it.
An offence can carry a team through difficult times. It can render opponents feeling like a truck just ran over them. I am sure the Giants are feeling that effect. Thing is, everyone in the AL has the power to do what the Jays have been doing with the offence. What we need is the starters to prove to us there is more to see. Alex Anthopoulos scoured waiver wires and free agency to find some depth to the staff and found pretty much nothing. If injuries are going to play such a big part then perhaps we need to put someone like Chad Jenkins in full time. I would rather his upside be used than Ortiz’s pedigree. Pitching and defense win championships and until I see more consistency in both area, the Jays better be the second coming of the ’23 Yankees (yes I smell the iron…y).