The Jays could assuage their weekend woes, having been swept by the Boston Red Sox, by turning the page on to a new week of this war of attrition, known as the MLB season.
They will be running into the New York Yankees at a potentially auspicious time for the Jays, given that the meat of the Bronx bombers order has been temporarily gutted by 3 concurrent DL stints.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, with the aid of GM Brian Cashman’s front office, has had to get inventive with the lineup card and roster, with Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday, and Starlin Castro, their usual 2,3 and 5 hitters, all shelved due to injury.
The Jays, who long for some consist winning and the potential to get back into contention, will still have to face some hot hitters like Brett Gardner, who had a huge night on Friday for example, hitting a grand slam and knocking in 6.
Of course, the most lethal threat in the Yanks lineup is Aaron Judge. The rookie sensation sits atop the leader boards, having amassed an obscene 27 home runs, 62 RBI’s and 70 runs so far while slashing.325/.448/.626.
If he maintains his current tally, he could very well wind up being the third player in Major League history to win both the MVP And Rookie of the Year awards in the same season (the other two being Fred Lynn and Ichiro).
Unfortunately, another Aaron, 2016’s A.L. ERA leader Aaron Sanchez won’t be ready to return to the club this series, as he is due to make an additional rehab start at AAA-Buffalo.
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The Jays, however, will be sending 3 pedigreed starters to the hill in NYC: Ace-like Marcus Stroman on Monday, 2016 20-game winner J.A. Happ on Tuesday, and magic Marco Estrada to close out the battle in the Bronx on Wednesday.
As alluded to, the Jays who are 2-8 in their last 10 games, hope to turn things around on the road, and Yankee Stadium could be just the place to do so.
Although the Blue Jays record in New York, historically, has been rather dismal, post-2015 they are 26-15 there. It’s short porch in right could obviously aid the red-hot Justin Smoak but he alone cannot carry the team.
They say hitting (and not hitting) is contagious so hopefully, the change of scenery will spark our other powerful switch hitter, DH Kendrys Morales. Again, the short porch in right could aid in this. As our own Brendan Panikkar has astutely pointed out though, Morales has yet to fully acclimate to his new club and hit to full potential. This series would certainly be prime time to do so.
We need to see other hitters return to old form as well, such as 2015 MVP Josh Donaldson who hasn’t looked that comfortable at the plate lately, with jittery check swings, quickly falling behind in the count.
Aside from the venue, the other factor that could lead to a win is Masahiro Tanaka, a shadow of his former self with a 6-7 record and dismal 5.56 ERA. Tuesday’s starter, Sabathia however, is currently experiencing a resurgence this season with a 7-2 record and 3.46 ERA.
In order to close out the series with a win Marco Estrada needs to bounce back from his last outing, and possibly take some momentum into the last series prior to the All-Star break (against possibly the best team in baseball, the Houston Astros, who currently, as of writing this sit at 55-27).
Estrada will have to keep the ball down and (possibly) extinguish a “tell” – allegedly tipping his changeup and/or fastball to opposing batters, as some have suggested, in order to help secure a win on Wednesday.
An encouraging fact though is Estrada’s last start in New York back in May, in which he allowed only 1 run against the stripes while walking none: a far cry from his last outing, Friday night’s 11-inning affair vs. Th Sox, in which he allowed an almost unfathomable 7 free passes.
For today though, the goal is that Stroman will maintain his Cy Young-like dominance, coming off a very strong outing last Wednesday in which his pitches looked sharp with lots of movement, resulting in the Orioles getting shutout 4-0, while the Stro-show struck out 8, cruising to victory.
First pitch in the Bronx is slated for 7:05 Eastern time tonight: time to turn the page to hopefully a very different second half for the Jays.