August 2014

Nothing is ever simple with the Jays

The off-day did not bring the results the Jays were hoping for as they could not do better than getting two hits in the first game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

They were hoping to put an end to their five-game losing streak but they bowed 6-1 as their starter, J.A. Happ, allowed the Brewers to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

The leading Brewers, atop the Central Division of the National League, struck for 10 hits including seven doubles. At one point it look as the Brewers were playing musical chairs at second base !.

The next day, manager John Gibbons could not ask for a better awakening as the Jays scored nine runs on 15 hits, including two homers and the Jays closed their rough road trip with a nice 9-5 win.

Jose Bautista hit his 24th homerun, a three-run blast and Colby Rasmus added a two-run blast, his 16th.

R.A. Dicky registered his 10th win as he gave up only three runs in the first five innings, before issuing a two-run homer to Carlos Gomez. A foursome of relievers followed and shutout the Brewers on two hits.

The Jays keep loosing ground since de beginning of August with only four wins in 17 games, having won only one of their last nine away games… and only nine homeruns.

Going back home, the Jays were hoping that their new found attack was a sign of things to come as the Tampa Bay Rays were coming to Rogers Centre.

It was not to be.

The Jays could not do any better than two hits against Drew Smyly, who looked like David Price in top form. The young lefthander notched his first career shutout and complete game as the Rays won easily 8-0. It was their 17th shutout of the season and their second in a row.

For a second consecutive start, Marcus Stroman was roughed up as he gave up five runs on 10 hits in only five innings.

The following day, despite a blown-up save by Casey Janssen in the ninth inning, the Jays bounced back in the 10th inning. After two outs and a two-strike count, Rasmus surprised the Rays by dropping a bunt for a sinple and then stole second base. Jose Reyes drove him home with the game-winning run.

But… the win is still not official, since the Rays’ manager lodged a protest after a controversial call by senior umpire Bob Davidson, in the fourth inning.

In the final game of the series, the Jays missed and excellent chance to put some distance between them and the Rays. Trailing by one run in the bottom of the tenth inning, the Jays put two men on the bases following two Rays’ miscues.

Despite the fact that they were facing a reliever who was shaken up, two experienced hitters like Reyes and Melky Cabrera swung at the first pitch and were easy outs. Then, Nolan Reimold, inserted in the lineup after Bautista was ejected by plate umpire Bill Welke for arguing a third strike, struck out to end the game.

It was a game that the Jays definitely should have won…

Starting next week, the Jays’ schedule shows that they will plays 25 of their 32 remaining games against their Eastern Division foes: seven vs the Yankees, six vs the Orioles, the Red Sox and the Rays. They will also face the Cubs three times and the Mariners in a four-game series.

What should help the Jays get back in the race, is that 19 of their last 32 games will be at home.

Marcus Stroman… handle with care!

The long trip started on a bad note as the Jays and Drew Hutchison resisted during the first five innings but fell apart in the sixth inning and King Felix came out the winner.

Jose Bautista put the Jays ahead 1-0 in the fourth inning with his 23rd homer ofe the season, but the Mariners answered immediately with two runs.

And in the sixth stanza, Robinson Cano greeted Hutchison with his 10th homerun and the Jays were doomed. Drew was touched for six runs on seven hits and two walks while Brad Mills could not do any better as he gave up five runs on three hits and as many walks.

The only good news of the day was that Adam Lind would dressed and ready to play in the second game while Edwin Encarnacion could join the team on Friday in Chicago.

The next day, even with Lind in the lineup, the Jays were unable to get more than one hit with runners in scoring position and they bowed 6-3.

J.A. Happ held his own on the mound, but the lack of offense and a Colby Rasmus’ error sent him to his seventh loss in 15 decisions.

Like the day before, the Jays took the lead on a Melky Cabrera’s double but they had to wait until the eight inning before they could add two more runs.

In the third game, it was the same story as R.A. Dickey gave up a two-run homerun in the first inning. He absorbed the loss as the Jays were shut out, 2-0.

Once again, the Jays could not, despite two hits each by Jose Reyes and Lind, get anything going with runners in scoring position.

Isahi Iwakuma recorded his 11th win of the season, giving up only five hits and one walk and Fernando Rodney notched his 35th save.

The lack of hitting in key moments is becoming alarming.

After an off day on Thursday, the Jays welcomed Encarnacion, but the smiles quickly faded as Marcus Stroman could not even get through the first inning!

The White Sox got to him for five runs in only two thirds of an inning and although the Jays made it close, 5-4 in the second inning, they went down 11-5 for their fourth loss in a row.

While the Sox got nine hits with runners in scoring position, the Jays could not do better than two in such occasions.

This game gave us a very clear indication about the status of young Stroman.

Each time Stroman uses more than 100 pitches in a game, his next start is a disaster. On July 4th, he made 115 pitches and in his following start, he gave up five runs on eight hits in less than four innings… on July 29th, once again he made 115 pitches and on his following start, he was roughed up for five runs on seven hits in three innings… on August 9th, he made 109 pitches and on Friday he could not even pitch a full inning!

Is there a message somewhere?

On Saturday, the Jays renewed with victory, but it was not easy.

Mark Buhrle held the fort over the first five innings and the Jays even gave him a three-run cushion. But in the sixth inning, he gave up a run and he exited after one out and with two runners on the basepath.

Dustin McGowan came in relief and was unable to hold the lead.

Luckily, Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista came to the rescue in the seventh inning, driving in three run for a 6-3 victory and Casey Janssen recorded his 19th save.

On Sunday, Drew Hutchison gave the Jays no chance as he issued a grand slam and a two-run homer in the first innings and the Jays trailed 6-0. They made a valiant effort to overcome the deficit, but they came up short, losing 7-5, despite Encarnacion first homerun since his return to action.

One must hope that the Jays will use Monday’s off day to do lots of soul searching… because as Yogi Berry once said: « It’s getting late, early » !

A good trip ends in a nightmare

What started as a good trip, a very good trip, ended in a nightmare!

The Jays arrived in Houston having won five of their first six games in New York and Boston… with four games on tap against the team with the worst record in the AL, the Astros.

They started the series with their sixth win in a row, but they faltered in the next three, an unexpected and disastrous ending. The Jays had taken two games in New York and had swept the Red Sox, getting close to the Orioles and first place, while the Yankees were fading away.

In Fenway Park, they avenged their 14-1 loss of a week ago by trouncing the Sox 14-1. Melky Cabrera hit two homers, one from each side of the plate, drove in five runs and Ryan Goins had four hits a added four rbis.

R.A. Dickey finally got the support of the Jays attack and he held the Sox to three hits and a walk. He struck out 10 and notched his ninth win of the year.

The next day, the Jays followed with 12 hits and Marcus Stroman, although he made 115 pitches, registered his seventh victory, 4-2.

Colby Rasmus hit his 14th homer and Anthony Gose drove in two runs. Jose Reyes and Juan Francisco got two hits each.

Casey Janssen gave up a solo blast to Xander Bogaerts en route to his 17th save of the year.

The Jays completed the sweep as the Red Sox seemed distracted by a lot of trade talks were floating in their clubhouse.

Marek Buehrle finally got his 11th win of the year, 6-1, as he allowed only six hits and one walk over six innings and two thirds on the hill.

In Houston, the Jays put their frustration aside as they were shut out on the trade front while the Orioles and the Yankees got some reinforcements… as least for the first game.

They hit four homeruns for their sixth win in a row, beating the Astros 6-5, to get within a game and a half of the Orioles. Drew Hutchison gave up four runs as he had trouble keeping his pitches down. It was young Aaron Sanchez who notched his second career victory and Janssen recorded his 18th save.

Designated hitter Nolan Reimhold, inserted in the lineup when Colby Rasmus was benched for showing up late, hit two homeruns while Jose Bautista and Dioner Navarro got the others. Danny Valencia and Jose Reyes added two hits each.

In the second game, the Jays missed a golden opportunity to distance the Yankees as they were beaten by the Red Sox. The Jays’ bats were not present when needed. In the second inning, leading 1-0, the Jays had runners on second and third base, nobody out, but came out empty.

J.A. Happ held his own for seven innings, allowing only one run on three hits, but Aaron Loup came in relief and was greeted by a Gregorio Petit homerun, his first career blast, and the Jays bowed 3-1.

In the third game of the series, the Astros roughed up Buehrle and Brett Cecil and the Jays did not get a single hit over the last five innings.

Buehrle gave up five runs on nine hits while Cecil did not record a single out, facing only three hitters as Jason Castro and Jon Singleton went deep against the lefthander.

In the last game, Stroman started strong but faded in the third and fourth innings as the Astros got to him for five runs. He was trailing 5-1 when John Gibbons took him out.

So the Jays ended what had started as a very good trip on a sour note, losing three games to the Astros and they flew home where, after an off-day, they will start what is probably their most crucial homestand as they will host the Orioles for three games and the Tigers for three more.