Blue Jays: Three positive takeaways from a disappointing game
The Blue Jays dropped a disappointing series opener against the Red Sox on Tuesday, but the 2-1 loss had some positive things to take away.
To begin with, they received an encouraging outing from Yusei Kikuchi, who they signed prior to the season to a three-year, 36 million dollar pact. Things didn’t go very well in Kikuchi’s debut outing for the Blue Jays, as he allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks against the New York Yankees, pitching just 3.1 innings. Tuesday’s turn through the rotation for Kikuchi was much more encouraging, as he finished 5.0 innings and allowed just one run on three hits.
It’s not exactly ideal that he also issued three walks, but at it felt like a step in the right direction for the Japanese southpaw. With Hyun Jin Ryu already hitting the Injured List, and Nate Pearson starting the year there, the Jays will need Kikuchi to pitch to his potential. At his best he’s an All-Star calibre starter, so Tuesday was a positive sign, especially compared to his first outing. We also have to remember that most starters are still building up their workloads after a short Spring Training, and hopefully Kikuchi can continue to move in the right direction.
Secondly, the Blue Jays bullpen deserves a pat on the back for holding the Red Sox at bay last night. The Jays lost the game despite only allowing three hits all night, and all three came against Kikuchi. From there David Phelps, Yimi Garcia, and Trevor Richards combined to throw three hitless innings. Unfortunately a Bo Bichette error in the 7th inning eventually led to the winning run in a 2-1 game, but that was the only baserunner from the 6th to 8th innings.
Last but not least, it’s great to see Zack Collins continuing to bring value to the Blue Jays these days. A week ago I was among the many fans on social media that were surprised to see him lining up as the DH, but right now Charlie Montoyo looks pretty smart for giving him the opportunity. On Tuesday he went 2-4 against the Red Sox, adding a solo shot that represented the Blue Jays’ only run. He also struck out twice, but that’s a lot more forgivable while going 2-4, and he’s now up to 8-20 (.400) on the season.
This development is especially important because the Blue Jays are without Danny Jansen at the moment, who is on the IL with an oblique injury. We won’t see Jansen back for a while yet, and there were a lot of understandable concerns when he went down. That concern grew during the first game that we saw Collins and Tyler Heineman, who both looked terrible at the plate in that game, and Heineman also made a throwing error on defence. If Collins can make a solid offensive contribution, the Jays will be able to weather the loss of Jansen a lot more easily, and it’ll also take some pressure off of Alejandro Kirk as well.
In addition to Jansen’s absence, the Blue Jays are also missing Teoscar Hernandez to an oblique injury of his own. Collins can’t exactly replace Hernandez in the outfield, but bringing offensive value is going to be important while the 2x Silver Slugger award winner is on the IL. So far, Collins has stepped up and really helped to fill that gap. We can’t expect that to last, but he looks a lot better than most of us thought a week ago.
The Blue Jays and Red Sox are now tied with the Yankees at the top of the AL East after 11 games, with all three teams sitting at 6-5. They’ll meet twice more before the first series of the season is over between the Jays and Red Sox, and hopefully we’ll see a better result.