It wasn’t enough that the Blue Jays blew the game in dramatic fashion on Friday evening against the Red Sox; they also happened to lose one of their best hitters for the rest of the season. Basically, the equivalent of a punch to the gut and a kick to the groin.
And although they dropped two of three at Fenway Park, the Blue Jays ultimately had a fairly successful road trip through Tampa Bay and Boston, compiling a 4-2 record.
Any team would be more than happy with those results, but the sad reality is the Blue Jays need to play much better than .666 baseball the rest of the way to even have a sniff at the playoffs.
The Melk Man Goes Down
Going into Friday night, miraculously Melky Cabrera had managed to go the entire season as one of the Blue Jays most durable and consistent hitters in the starting lineup. And after an innocent slide back into first base, just like that, he’s done for the year.
I’m not exactly sure how this injury will impact whether or not he’ll re-sign with Toronto (another topic for another day), but it just muddies what is already a very murky situation for Melky and Blue Jays this offseason.
Many would say that the loss of Melky effectively ends the Blue Jays season; I wouldn’t go quite that far, but for a team that already had very little margin for error, losing one of the pillars in their starting lineup doesn’t bode very well for them down the stretch.
Colby Rasmus: Professional Pinch Hitter
Even with the injury to Melky Cabrera, one thing became very evident over the weekend; Colby Rasmus will ride out the rest of the season on the bench. But like any good artist faced with adversity, Colby has managed to reinvent himself as a clutch pinch hitter.
It’s probably not the way he envisioned his time with the Blue Jays coming to an end, but Rasmus is certainly making the most of the rare opportunities he’s been getting the past few games.
Colby was the hero on Thursday night as he hit a game-winning pinch hit home run against the Rays, and he connected again and went deep for his second home run in three at bats off the bench.
If this was somehow the Blue Jays’ diabolical plan to somehow get Colby Rasmus to hit, it’s definitely working. Colby Rasmus has now tied the Blue Jays club record for pinch hit home runs in a single season with 3, a title he shares with Willie Greene.
In fact, Colby is just one off the franchise record for total pinch hit home runs, a title owned by Jesse Barfield and Ernie Whitt with 4 apiece.
Joey Bats is On Fire
Perhaps this has been overshadowed amidst the Colby Rasmus controversy, the bullpen implosion on Friday and Melky Cabrera out for the season, but is there a hotter hitter in baseball right now than Jose Bautista?
Not only did he hit home runs in five consecutive games last week, but he picked up two more over the weekend at Fenway Park; bringing his last 11 game total to 7 home runs, 16 hits and 12 RBI’s. Not to mention, Bautista slugged .826 over that stretch.
He may not be having a 2010 or even 2011-like season, but Jose Bautista is quietly putting forth one of the strongest seasons of his career.
We have this stat courtesy of Ben Nicholson-Smith from Sportsnet that Jose Bautista is on pace for his best season since 2012:
And now with Melky gone for the season, the contributions from Jose Bautista suddenly become even more crucial to the Blue Jays lineup. It’s also become more and more imperative that the Blue Jays need Bautista to stick around beyond 2016.
Whether that’s feasible or not all depends on payroll, but if the cash is there, then the Blue Jays would be best served to set aside a good chunk for a Jose Bautista contract extension in the future.
Images courtesy of Jim Rogash/Getty Images Sport