Blue Jays must play better baseball. No more, no less.


The loss that launched a thousand ships. The Toronto Blue Jays have sparked a war of headlines in the short time since their extra-innings loss to the Texas Rangers, ranging from replay rage to absolute resignation. Lost in the constant quest for a greater narrative, though, is the potential that the simplest answer is the most accurate one. The Blue Jays need to play better baseball, and the story ends there.

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The Dallas Morning News took aim at Toronto’s media reaction last night with an article entitled ‘Toronto media whine about ‘scandalous’ calls in Rangers win’. Don’t let yourself waste three valuable minutes on the article’s great copy-and-paste efforts, but this gives you a sense of the widespread scope that has grown out of that heartbreaking loss. If the local sports talk stations opened the phone lines today, you’d hear everything from Gibbons hate to America-versus-Canada conspiracy series.

Sometimes, baseball teams lose games because another talented group of individuals scored more runs, and the story ends there.

The Blue Jays posted just eight hits in 14 innings and a rolled off a string of zeroes through the latter two thirds of Friday’s game. I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that all nine batters were looking to end the game on every swing, but as a roster, there could have been a much more proactive game plan at the plate. Even a well-placed ground ball from Russell Martin with Dalton Pompey on first base and none out could have tilted the game. The opportunities were endless, and Toronto continued to miss.

This is not a damnation of the Jays, just the reality of baseball. If Toronto takes the field in mid-May and loses two straight games, it brings up little more than a groan, regardless of the opponent. While losing two straight in this situation is horrendous timing, many are treating this as a much more shocking occurrence than dropping two consecutive in May. That logic can’t add up, as the Texas Rangers were one of the hottest teams in baseball over the past two months with the third-highest scoring offense in the MLB.

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Rougned Odor‘s foot on second base remains the primary arguing point of the game, but this represents the unfortunate limitations of MLB replays where the word “definitive” rules all. A fraction of an inch of Odor’s cleat appears to remain behind the bag in even the closest image, but even if that spike is a full inch off the bag depth-wise, we don’t have that angle. Instead, perhaps a better pitching matchup on Odor would have eliminated him from the bases altogether.

Odor has given the Rangers the classic breakout playoff performer, something most teams need to lift them above and beyond their opponents in October. Besides, at this time of the season, there are no undeniable favorites. If you earn a seat at the table, you’re good.

Toronto has not had that, despite five consecutive innings with an opportunity to walk it off at the Rogers Centre. We can debate the merits of Friday’s umpiring for hours, days and weeks, but frankly, nothing good will come of it.

The Blue Jays, at most, played an equal level of baseball to the Rangers on Friday. In doing so, luck, chance and situation are left free to steal a ball game away. The solution isn’t an umpire, magic bean or a roster move, it’s better baseball. They’ve been doing it all year.

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