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Series Recap: Bad Times in The Bronx

One step forward, two steps back. Get some momentum, let it go immediately. Ho hum.

What happened?

The Jays were rolling into this series with momentum for the first time all season. They had just won two in a row at home against Tampa Bay, their first series win of the season, and appeared poised to keep the ball rolling with largely favourable matchups against the Yankees.

On Monday, Marco Estrada twirled another gem, shutting down the Yankees for one earned run over seven innings. Since getting knocked around in Tampa, Estrada hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start, a streak spanning over four outings. The bats were also strong all game. The Jays managed seven runs on 12 hits, getting the majority of their offence on the long ball. 7-1 Jays. Three in a row! Rally!~!

On Tuesday, Mat Latos went up against Masahiro Tanaka in a game I’m pretty sure deep down we all knew the Yankees were going to win. Latos got drilled for seven runs over four innings of work, and Tanaka was solid enough, holding the Jays to four runs over six-and-a-third. 11-5 Yankees.

Wednesday’s game was the frustrating one. With an opportunity to win a second series in a row and really get shit rolling, the Jays crapped themselves. They got an early 4-0 lead off of CC Sabathia, but couldn’t really muster much else after that, ultimately stranding 22 runners on base throughout the game. Marcus Stroman got knocked around and had to leave the game after just three innings with an injury. The bullpen wasn’t able to hold it down, and, like I said, the offence straight up didn’t help the cause after the first two innings. 8-6 Yankees.

We’re now 9-19.

Things that were good

  • Marco Estrada was excellent yet again, completely shutting down a Yankees lineup that, as we saw in the second and third games of the series, is very good. Estrada is also very good. Sign him to an extension.
  • Sticking with Estrada for a second, he had very positive things to say about the team’s new backup catcher. According to Arash Madani, Estrada said he felt like he had been throwing to Maile for years. We all know Maile isn’t going to accomplish much with the stick, because backup catcher seldom do, but if he can be sound defensively, that’ll do.
  • Devon Travis looked like a different hitter this series than he has all season. He went 2-for-4 in both of the first two games, squared some balls up, and got himself some hard contact. He’s  had a rough start to the season, but he’s simply too good to struggle for this long. It seems now that his season is back on track.
  • Steve Pearce seems to have finally woken up, too. On Tuesday, he hit two homers and went 4-for-4, and on Wednesday, he clubbed a three-run bomb off of CC Sabathia. Like Travis, he’s too good of a hitter to continue on at, like, a .200 OPS pace, obviously. He may not be an everyday player, and still likely functions best in a platoon role, but Pearce is coming around.
  • Roberto Osuna tossed an inning in Wednesday’s game, picking up three strikeouts. There was worry about his velocity and whether it was going to be a long-term issue, but Osuna has now been spotless in his last three outings.
  • Also, Danny Barnes. What does this guy need to do to get more high leverage innings? Barnes has tossed six-and-two-thirds innings and hasn’t allowed a run this season. He just pounds the strike zone over and over and has consistently seen success.

Things that weren’t good

  • Mat Latos was very bad in Tuesday’s game. We all knew that he was eventually going to get drilled, but it seems he’s going to continue in the starting rotation until J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez are back. He actually managed to strike five Yankees out over his four innings, it was his fastball that was getting pumped. Hopefully it was a blip and he can back more like the starter we saw against St. Louis, but that seems unlikely.
  • Marcus Stroman left Wednesday’s game with soreness in his armpit, which isn’t good. He says it isn’t serious, and expects to make his next start, but with the luck the Jays have had this season, I wouldn’t blame you if that didn’t make you any less worried. We may see Joe Biagini make a spot start if Stroman isn’t able to go, which could be interesting.
  • Kendrys Morales has been awful at the plate recently. His OPS for the season is down to .637, which is like Ryan Goins/Darwin Barney territory. If you’re a DH, you simply can’t be producing that poorly with the bat, especially when you’re playing for the Jays, a team full of old, nearly broken guys who could use time off from the field every once in a while. At one point, Morales was one of few bright spots on the team, but in the Yankees series, he had multiple ugly at bats in key, possible run-producing situations.
  • Jason Grilli got rooooooocked on Tuesday for three runs without getting an out. We all like Grilli, his demeanour, and what he’s done for the team over the past year, but damn, after a handful of poor outings this year, it’s hard not to worry if he’s out of gas.

Up next…

The Jays will have a much-needed off day Thursday before heading to The House of Horrors for three with the Devil Rays. After that, it’s the Return of Edwin at Rogers Centre. Apparently Hazel Mae has a feature with him coming up that’s going to be a real tough one to watch. After the way the team has performed the first month of the season, I’ll welcome something that’ll push me to feel a little nostalgia.

  • lukewarmwater

    Good summary Cam on the strengths and weaknesses of this team so far. As Teddyball game eloquently stated recently, at least the vast majority of the games have been entertaining, whether it is watching a two run sacrifice fly, C.C. having a try out with Circus Du Soleil with his daring high jump over a startled Molina. In general what could go wrong has gone wrong. I’m sure a lot of us thought the baseball God’s would not be as kind regarding the health of our starters as was shown last season. But this is beginning to get out of control especially with the two dynamic youngsters, arm pits, finger nails, blisters, my goodness what is next?

      • lukewarmwater

        Cam in about 6 weeks the Jays single A affiliate out here in Vancouver will hear the chant from the umpire Play BALL. I’ll attend a number of games as it is a beautiful , fun ball park and keep an eye on some of the youngsters to see if there are any future Sanchez, Osuna, Pillar, Syndegarden etc. who are beginning their journey to the majors. I will occasionally post some comments on what I’ve seen in some of the youngsters play.

  • ErnieWhitt

    I have a funny feeling that Edwin, who has had some pretty harsh struggles early-on, is looking at that return to Toronto as the logical start of one of his patented hot streaks.