Blue Jays must pounce on the plucky Oakland Athletics
The Toronto Blue Jays will return home to the Rogers Centre this weekend to take on the Oakland Athletics in a three-game series.
It’s a sneaky big early series as it’s the only set of games remaining in the month of April that’s not against common American League heavyweights in the Boston Red Sox or Houston Astros.
It’s important for the Jays to take advantage of these games against a team that’s attempting to establish its identity after offloading many of their most well-known players in the offseason.
Blue Jays: Don’t overlook the A’s
Oakland wasn’t at the top of any power rankings after trading Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt. Although the perception is that closed its recent competitive window, the A’s have remained a tough team to play against early on and they just won three of four games against the defending AL East champion Rays.
I recently tried to think of as many A’s players off the top of my head and it wasn’t many. Frankie Montas, Tony Kemp, Stephen Piscotty, Sean Murphy. And that’s about it.
Looking up the roster, a few other names were recognizable, including Kirby Snead and Kevin Smith, acquired from the Jays in the Chapman trade last month. Former Blue Jay Billy McKinney is also on the Athletics roster.
This is what the A’s do. Destroy and rebuild. They had some really good teams with some great players, didn’t quite get it done, and, as those players reached their peak trade value they were moved. In a lot of ways, this is a classic Athletics team. Plucky, underrated, and dangerous.
Oakland uses a strategy similar to the Rays. They build through the draft, pick up players off the scrap heap, and tend to trade their most valuable assets when they get too expensive.
Blue Jays “Semien-al Moment”
It’s interesting to think about the last time these two teams met. A three-game series at Rogers Centre to kick off the month of September with both teams on the fringes of the AL Wild-Card race. The games were a microcosm of the two teams going in the opposite directions.
It resulted in a three-game sweep for the Blue Jays, including a wild comeback in the first game in what was one of the most memorable games in recent team history. Down 8-2 in the eighth, the Jays rallied behind a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. RBI single followed by an Alejandro Kirk bases-loaded walk.
That set the stage for Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s game-tying grand slam. It looked like it was all for naught when Mark Canha homered with a man on in the ninth.
Then Marcus Semien stepped up to the plate and delivered a huge, walk-off three-run homer to win it 11-10.
Blue Jays: Free Stuff!
If the A’s unexpected early success or the recent history isn’t enough excitement for Jays fans, there will also be a pair of exciting promos at the ballpark this weekend.
On Friday, MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day and the first 15,00 fans will receive an exclusive Jackie Robinson T-shirt. Then, on Saturday fans will receive a Hello Kitty bobblehead with the purchase of a specialty ticket.
The trio of games feels similar to the Rangers series where the Blue Jays didn’t play their best but still must’ve felt disappointed not getting the sweep. They’d do well to come away with one this time because the upcoming schedule is daunting.