The Jays first series of the week was against the Baltimore Orioles, another important series against division rival. Certainly the Jays have not started the way they were expected to. They are playing catch-up and will really need to start winning some games in a row, or something will have to change and in sports blame is usually put on the coach. I am not saying that I am blaming Gibbons (yet), I am just saying that the Jays need to win more and lose less. The first game of the series did not fall in the winning category for the Jays lost 2-1. It was a good game, a pitchers duel between JA Happ and Chris Tillman both pitchers only had four hits against and Happ had 6 strikeouts. Unfortunately for the Jays everything went wrong. Aaron Loup, his first battered he faced he hit with a pitch then later in the inning with two outs and two on Alexi Casilla hits a ground ball to Kawasaki and it seemed like a routine underhanded throw to second base. Casilla decided to throw it to first and Encarnacion could handle the ball and just like that bases are loaded. Nick Markakis would single to the left field and Chris Davis would score and that would be the end of the game.
The Blue Jays going into this game have had to come from behind 14 times in 21 games, that is a lot of runs allowed first in only 21 games. Another unfortunate stat in the last ten games at Camden Yards, the Jays have won two. If you have noticed that when I start like this it is never a good sign. The O’s were the first to score in the second inning and they scored four runs to make the Jays and Dickey squirm just a little bit. The Jays would calm down and in the top of the 6th inning with walks to Adam Lind and Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion would hit a 3 run homerun. Melky Cabrera almost got an inside the park homerun, but was held at third. I kind of wish they tried to send Melky home because aside a small chance in the top of the 8th inning the Jays would lose their second straight to the O’s and continue this months woes. Like the word play, all sad jokes aside the Jays have now lost two games in a row by one run against the team that was notorious last season when it came to winning one run games. Let us hope that the Jays can avoid the sweep.
The third and final game was played in the early afternoon under the sun and was a great day for baseball. The Jays were looking for their first win against the O’s this season and were making sure they would not get swept for the first time this season. The O’s would score first in the first inning, but JP Arencibia would hit a two run homerun in the second inning which was his 8th of the season and in the third Rajai Davis would hit his first of the season, those were not the only homeruns, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion each had a solo homerun to make the score 5-2. Brendan Morrow held on nicely in six innings and had four strikeouts. He did have a tough seventh inning, a walk and then an RBI double by Ryan Flaherty made the score 5-3. So they pulled Morrow and switched him with Aaron Loup, he did not do any better and had two more runs scored against him to have the game tied. That is the second game in three nights that Loup has not pitched well. In the top of the 9th JP Arencibia and Brett Lawrie struck out, JP’s KO was his fault, attempted to get the walk instead of swinging a pitch that hit dead center, but Lawrie had a bit more of a reason to argue. Lawrie would leave without being ejected, but John Gibbons went out to talk to the umpire, they did not agree and Gibbons was ejected. With the game tied it was off to extra innings and the game could have been over if it was not for Rajai Davis who threw out Manny Machado at home. In the top of the 11th inning with two outs Arencibia singled as well as Kawaski, then the pitch hits Brett Lawrie to make the bases loaded. It would get worse for Jim Johnson, he would walk Maicer Izturis and the Jays score and that is all they would need as the Jays win 6-5. This was a game that the Jays should have lost and could have many times, they were lucky that Jim Johnson had run out of gas, now it is off to New York for a four game series.
This was another series loss for the Jays and they could have easily been swept, there are aspects of the game that they need to fix. The Jays were only 3-15 with runners in scoring position and that is something they have to fix. Now I know the O’s went 8-30 with runners in scoring position, but that means they had way more opportunities then the Jays had!
Did the WBC really screw up the team this badly? The Jays had a lot of players in the WBC this spring and that meant the team had less time getting to know each other and practice. I find it hard to believe it, but maybe that is one of the reasons why the Jays have had such a slow start.
I also put the blame on the pressure this team has been given. Everyone has deemed them the team with the best chance to win the World Series before the season started and that put a ridiculous amount of pressure on them. I think the expectation should have been playoffs not the series.
I have been biting my tongue for a while on this one and I know it is only a month, but maybe John Gibbons was not the right choice for this team. There are a lot of top players on this team and I think the Jays should have gotten a more seasoned veteran manager, but again there is still a lot time to fix this team.
Going into the final game of this series the Jays had an average of 226 and they were 28th in the league, they need more hits and they need to cash in on these hits. If they can win a few series 3-1, 2-1, or with sweeps in a row then the Jays are back on track and well, if not then man oh man will this be a long season.
I know the Jays miss Reyes, but frankly they are not playing any worse when he was with the team. I have another question, is it just me, or do the Jays give Rasmus a much shorter leash than the other players? I would not have pitch hit for him, I would have taken out Bonifacio, and then again I am not a coach.
To end on some good news JP Arencibia for now leads the AL in homeruns and is having a good season overall.
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