It was a rough Saturday at the Rogers Centre, but if the Blue Jays can win Sunday’s series finale with the Rays they could salvage a pretty decent week.
How could I say that after such an ugly double-header yesterday? Well, baseball is always going to have good and bad days, and sometimes we have to step back and look at the bigger picture.
When Monday began the Blue Jays were looking at eight games in seven days against division rivals in the Red Sox and Rays. I saw many fans on Twitter saying they’d be happy with a 5-3 record over those eight games and ideally winning each series, with three games coming against the Red Sox, and five against the Rays. With a win on Sunday, they could finish with that 5-3 record and beat the Rays, just as they did against Boston to start the week.
Why does that feel underwhelming? For starters, it was pretty deflating to see Kevin Gausman limp off the mound on Saturday. That said, the early reports are that he’s dealing with a contusion and that the x-rays have come back clean, which is a huge relief for a team in need of more pitching, not one that can afford to lose one of their most reliable arms. It wouldn’t be a shock if Gausman had to miss one turn in the rotation, but thankfully it looks like he came out of a scary situation with the best news we could hope for.
It also doesn’t help that the Blue Jays could really use a boost to their pitching staff in general these days, and the holes on their roster are becoming glaringly obvious. Yusei Kikuchi surprised many of us with a quality outing during his last time out, and Jose Berrios was much better as well during his Canada Day start against the Rays, but both will have to continue the work to turn their seasons around. Even with an improved performance from the rotation, the bullpen could really use some help. If there’s any silver lining here, perhaps the urgency goes up for the front office after the recent performance from the ‘pen.
I will admit that this week has felt like a bit of a lost opportunity for the Blue Jays, and that they could be in an even better spot. As of this writing they are still sitting at the top of the Wild Card standings though, and with a win on Sunday this week will ultimately help in the race for a playoff spot.
Speaking of the playoffs, I think it might be time that most of us let go of the idea of the Blue Jays chasing down the Yankees for the AL East lead. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t think the Yankees can keep this up all year and that they’re due for regression at SOME point, but the gap is pretty wide at 14 games behind, even if there is plenty of season left. It could still happen, but it’s going to require a significant cold stretch or two from the Yankees that may never come to that extent.
For now, the Blue Jays sit with a 44-35 record, a half game lead over the Red Sox in the Wild Card race, and 1.5 games ahead of the Rays. It would be great to send the Rays away with a 2.5 game deficit rather than making it just a 0.5 game lead with a Sunday loss, and if they can pull it off the week will ultimately be some sort of success. You might not agree with that sentiment after a frustrating pair of losses on Saturday, but it was never going to be easy against these two teams. At the end of the day (or in this case, week), a win on Sunday could make for a pretty decent eight-game stretch.