What a weekend for baseball in Toronto. With the warm weather, the roof open and over 115,000 fans packing the stadium over the weekend, it’s amazing how all these things just add up to make for a really fun atmosphere at the ballpark.
It may only be mid-May, but this was preview of what we might expect in the upcoming “dog days of summer”; series at home against heated division rivals. If this home stand was any indication of how the Jays might fare in the future, they may be a formidable foe.
The Starting Pitching Rebounds
Going into this series versus the Red Sox, it seemed like there might need to be a summit on the state of the Blue Jays starting pitching. But then Aaron Sanchez kicked off the series with seven strong innings of work, despite giving up five walks.
Drew Hutchison somewhat laboured through five innings on Saturday, but managed to hold the Red Sox at bay and limit them to simply one earned run. Not exactly the best outing from Hutchison, but not necessarily the worst either.
And that’s been the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation in a nutshell over the course of the first six weeks of the season. We’ve probably already seen this rotation at its worst; we have yet to see this rotation perform at its very best.
Without Marcus Stroman, this Blue Jays starting rotation might only be average at best. But with the amount of runs they’ve been scoring as of late, the starting pitching might only need to be average for the Jays to have a fighting chance.
R.A. Dickey and “One Bad Inning”
How many times have we heard this one before? R.A. Dickey had really only had one bad inning. It was true once again yesterday versus the Red Sox. Dickey gave up a four-spot in the very first inning, and that ended up being the difference-maker.
For whatever reason, batters tend to pick one particular inning to tee off on R.A. Dickey; the rest of the game, Dickey seems to keep things under control.
In recent weeks, Jeff Blair has said that Aaron Sanchez is the kind of player that tends to get into trouble, but is only ever one or two pitches away from getting out of a jam. On the other hand, it feels like R.A. Dickey is always one or two pitches from losing the game.
That tends to be the nature of the knuckleball itself; it’s extremely unpredictable an volatile. In his third (yes third) season as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, you’d think we’d be used to it by now; but there’s something about having Dickey on the mound that’s just so unsettling to me.
This is precisely why I would never want a guy like R.A. Dickey starting a Wild Card playoff game for the Blue Jays, because on any given start, you simply don’t know what you’re going to get from him. A white knuckle ride is not what you want with your team’s season hanging in the balance.
Game to game, there’s hardly any sense of consistency for R.A. Dickey. But over the course of an entire season and 30 plus starts, things tend to even themselves out for Dickey.
The Red Sox and Jays – Two Teams at a Crossroads
You may not know it by the tone in which the Boston Red Sox have been covered by the media this past week, but only 1.5 games separate Boston and Toronto in the AL East standings.
However, these are two clubs that are heading in entirely different directions. The Red Sox capped off their week by firing their pitching coach, demoting one of their everyday players to the minor leagues, and several of the franchise figureheads tried to right the ship by addressing the clubhouse.
The Blue Jays have only won two more games than the Red Sox at this point, and yet the same sense of urgency doesn’t seem to be there from the Blue Jays’ standpoint. The Blue Jays have had a closed door meeting this season, but it was about what music to play in the clubhouse.
Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’d say there’s probably more pressure on the Red Sox than the Blue Jays to deliver this year and the Red Sox front office does not want to take the “wait and see” approach.
The Blue Jays are admittedly being a little more patient and giving more rope with their players and coaching staff. But doesn’t it just seem like the Red Sox might be panicking a little too early here?
Images via Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP