4 takeaways from the Blue Jays sweep of the Pirates
What a difference three days can make in the grind of a baseball season, as Toronto Blue Jays fans were once again reminded of this past weekend.
After the thoroughly miserable four-game shellacking at the hands of the division rival Boston Red Sox, in which the Jays certainly didn't put their best foot forward, the general mood among the fanbase could be described as gloomy.
Following their three-game sweep of the NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates, things suddenly look a whole lot better for the Jays and their fans, who were ready to hit the early-season panic button just mere days ago.
So, what can we take away from the team's weekend romp through PNC Park?
Takeaway #1: The Blue Jays can win without Guerrero Jr.
When the news came out that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was dealing with a sore wrist and would miss Saturday's game, there was an obvious concern for his health and what a lineup without Guerrero would like, both in the short and long term. After all, Guerrero is slashing .318/.389/.530 this season, with seven home runs, 23 runs scored and 21 RBI. That kind of production is hard to replace.
Despite being a similar issue to what he dealt with and played through last season, per Sportsnet's Shi Davidi, there was enough soreness to keep him out of the final two games of the weekend series.
As it turns out, there's not much to worry about, at least for the time being.
After taking the series opener 4-0, with Guerrero contributing one hit and an RBI, the Jays lineup didn't miss a beat on Saturday with the former MVP runner-up watching from the sidelines. Thanks to contributions from up and down the lineup, they jumped all over Pirates' starter Johan Oviedo, scoring four in the first inning en route to a convincing 8-2 victory.
Sunday was more of the same. Whit Merrifield's third-inning three-run home run broke the game open, Jordan Romano showed his mettle in escaping a bases-loaded situation in the eighth, and then a five-run ninth-inning sealed the 10-1 win and three-game sweep.
Blue Jays hitters racked up 18 runs on 29 hits without Vladdy. Most importantly, they got contributions from the bottom of the lineup, not just the big boys up top — the six-seven-eight-nine hitters chipped in 14 hits and 13 RBI in the two games.
While it's impossible to replace a Vladimir Guerrero Jr., if the two games without their everyday first baseman are any indication, this team is deep enough, both at the plate and in the field, to survive an absence like this.