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Photo Credit: © Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Series Recap: Sliding Back

The Jays had an opportunity this weekend to reach the .500 mark for the first time in 2017. Agin, though, they failed to reach the hurdle, dropping two of three against the White Sox. Over the past two seasons now, the Jays have gone 2-7 against a Chicago team that they really shouldn’t be struggling against.

What happened?

On Friday, Joe Biagini got drilled for seven runs, six earned, over just one inning of work. The game was pretty much out of reach by the end of the second inning, and the offence didn’t do much about it. 11-4 White Sox.

On Saturday, Marcus Stroman put together a strong performance, allowing three solo homers over seven innings, but the bats were completely limp. The Jays only managed six hits and one walks, making Mike Pelfrey look like, uh, not Mike Pelfrey. 5-2 White Sox. 

On Sunday, J.A. Happ did his best to salvage the series, holding the White Sox down until Russell Martin and Kendrys Morales could blow the game open with a pair of two-run bombs. 7-3 Blue Jays. 

Things that were good

  • It’s pretty difficult to draw positives from those first two games. Justin Smoak hit a two run homer in the ninth inning on Friday, leaving him just one shy of matching his career high of 20. And as I said earlier, Marcus Stroman had another good start in which he gave the Jays a chance to win. Otherwise? Friday and Saturday are two games we’ll be looking to forget pretty quickly.
  • One really good thing from this weekend was the return of Steve Pearce, who had sort of become a forgotten guy on this team. He’d missed a month of action and wasn’t playing very well before going on the 10day disabled list back in May. But this weekend, he went 4-for-6 with a couple of walks, a home run, and two RBIs. That’s some much needed life for a lineup that’s looked dead recently.
  • J.A. Happ was excellent yet again on Sunday. He’s had back-to-back strong starts in which his fastball command has been excellent, and for the first time in 2017, he appears to be finding a groove.
  • Kendrys Morales’ bomb on Sunday was a beautiful sight to behold. The best part about it? It came immediately after a handful of media people and fans were starting to spout about how the team doomed itself due to the lack of small ball.

Things that weren’t good

  • Biagini’s start on Friday night was really rough. He had one similar in Atlanta a few weeks ago, but managed to grind out a few innings. This time, Biagini just looked uncomfortable and was never able to get past it. I wouldn’t look too far into it or anything, because the White Sox have a solid lineup and every pitcher has a bad day, but that was a tough one to watch.
  • In general? Bleh. The series was pretty ugly. Despite Sunday’s rally and win, the offence looked very poor this weekend. And when you’re facing Mike Pelfrey and James Shields, that isn’t a good thing. Jose Bautista has had a terrible June, as has Kevin Pillar and Troy Tulowitzki. It’s the inevitability of having a boom-or-bust offence, I guess, but the Jays really, really need to avoid hitting these deep lulls.

Up next…

It’s like the 2015 playoff tour. The Jays will head to Texas for four games against the Rangers and then Kansas City for three with the Royals. After that, they’ll head home to play the Orioles in what is ultimately a 10-game stretch that could make or break their season. Because after that? Things starts to get really tough.

  • AD

    I just cant shake the feeling that this is a .500 team. I hope im wrong, but the issues are:
    1) pillar is NOT a leadoff hitter. He has been awful since the atlanta series, time to make a change there. Maybe put jbats there? Atleast he can draw walks and get on base.
    2) Tulo, jbats, martin- these guys are getting old and just not that good anymore quite frankly.
    3) the offense as a whole- only smoak and Jd are performing above avg I would say. Morales has been ok but he swings at too many bad pitches for my liking and doesnt walk enough. They are second and third In runs scores I believe in the AL. This is not the 2015 jays offense, not even close. Way too reliant on the HR ball too.
    4) skechy bullpen- I dont know if i can realllyyy trust tepera and barnes yet. Grilli has been a dumpster fire. Loup is loup…

    So if you look at all these factors its hard to see how they make the playoffs this year and win 88+games. Can someone provide reason for hope this season? I cant, its prob time to sell.

  • Oz Rob

    What’s the deal with Stroman and the media? In his interviews, he just seems like a bit of jerk really. Richard Griffin made a cryptic comment about this a while ago saying that ‘other players are watching’. I know he’s focussing on his own brand , but somehow I’m not that he’s as likeable as he seemed a few years ago. Not that that matters, but it’s not a good look.

  • Rob Ray

    Yeah, the offence is in a deep trough. Pillar is 14 for his last 90 with one home run and five RBI’s. Bautista is 7 for his last 50 with one home run and 2 RBI’s. Tulowitzki is 11 for his last 54 with no home runs and just one RBI. Martin is 4 for his last 26 with 2 home runs and 3 RBI’s. With Carrera and Travis out there is no life in the offence at all. In order for this team to make a run at a playoff spot, they’ll have to play slightly better than .600 ball. I think they’re something like 13-20 against the AL East. That will have to change drastically or they could be sellers in 5 weeks.

    • Oz Rob

      In some ways if the Jays end up being sellers, it might be a blessing in disguise. It gives the front office a reason to retool for the future, which is something that needs to be done even if we make the playoffs this year. We definitely need some young dynamic players to replace the ageing core. That’s the reality, but geez it’ll kill off a large chunk of the fanbase who don’t get it.

  • Teddy Ballgame

    This is the problem when you face plant out of the gate like the Jays did. Even if they claw themselves back into fringe contention, another slump (as certainly happens in a long season) leaves them with a lot of teams to climb over. Hell, even with a stretch of great play the Jays are still in last. In some ways it reminds me of 2013 – that 10 game win streak brought hope, but the hole was too big.

    This year can obviously be different, but there’s not that much room for error. Fingers crossed for no more injuries…