It wasn’t pretty — to be honest, part of it was very gut-wrenching — but the Blue Jays managed to pull out a split against the Red Sox in Boston. That’s always good. If you couple that with the fact they also split with the Houston Astros right before the All-Star break, you get the makings of a competitive team going neck-and-neck with the best of the American league. The climb up is a long one, but this helps.
On Monday, the Jays offence quickly jumped on Eduardo Rodriguez, who was making his first start after spending a month on the disabled list. Marcus Stroman was cruising, but the Sox rallied in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game. But immediately after, Steve Pearce, who led the offence all game, drove in the go-ahead and ultimately game-winning run. 4-3 Blue Jays.
On Tuesday, we witnessed a heartbreaker. In the top of the 11th inning, the Jays took the lead, but Roberto Osuna blew the save in the bottom half because of some unfortunate batted-ball luck. Mike Bolsinger pitched the game of his life, striking out four in one inning, but allowed Hanley Ramirez to hit a walk-off bomb in the bottom of the 15th inning. 5-4 Red Sox.
On Wednesday, limp from the previous night’s marathon, the Blue Jays’ bats were completely shut down by Drew Pomeranz. Worst of all, Aaron Sanchez was lifted after four innings because The Blister flared up again. 5-1 Red Sox.
On Thursday, the Jays teed off on Doug Fister, which was important because Francisco Liriano wasn’t able to get out of the second inning. Justin Smoak clubbed a couple of solo homers and the bullpen was able to hold Boston off from mounting a comeback. 8-6 Blue Jays.
Things that were good
- The bullpen was taxed heavily this week, and they did an admirable job of dealing with it. All told, the relievers pitched 23 innings over the four games and only surrendered six earned runs. Mike Bolsinger’s performance in the extra innings heartbreaker was excellent, as he came one strikeout shy of matching a career-high, but he was put on the 10-day disabled list the next day. In his spot, Cesar Valdez took advantage of the opportunity, pitching four dominant innings in relief of Aaron Sanchez. Roberto Osuna was nails save for his blown save, which, as I said, had a lot to do with some unfortunate luck, and Ryan Tepera had a couple very good showings.
- Though it kind of came unraveled in the seventh inning thanks to an error, Marcus Stroman put together yet another quality start on Monday. He tossed six-and-two-thirds innings while holding Boston to just five hits and wasn’t charged an earned run.
- Steve Pearce had a great week at the plate going 5-for-19 with some key hits. He hit a homer and the go-ahead single on Monday and drove in two runs on Thursday. Since returning from the disabled list, Pearce has been a major catalyst in Toronto’s offence and has creeped up to a very respectable .783 OPS. This is the player the Blue Jays thought they were getting when they inked him to a two-year deal last winter.
- Justin Smoak has continued his excellent season, killing the skepticism that his first-half performance was just a bunch of bullshit. Smoak had seven hits over the four games including two bombs on Thursday. His OPS is currently sitting at a cool .960 and it seems like he’s going to crack the 40-homer plateau. It’s truly amazing how he’s been able to turn his career around.
- Jose Bautista made a damn good diving catch in Thursday’s game. Fuck the haters. He’s the GOAT.
The GOAT. pic.twitter.com/a5Pkx72P3M— Blue Jays Nation (@thejaysnation) July 20, 2017
Things that weren’t good
- I mentioned it above when talking about the bullpen, but the starters didn’t make life very easy this week. Well, that isn’t totally fair. Stroman was very good and Happ was solid, but Liriano had another very frustrating outing and Sanchez’s blister issue came back again.
- The last one is the big issue here. Sanchez has already hit the disabled list three times this season because this goddamn thing and it keeps popping back up. It’s getting to a point where it’s become worrying for not just this season, but 2018 as well.
- Josh Donaldson hasn’t really looked like himself. It hasn’t been reported that he’s injured, but there’s no way he’s playing anywhere near 100 per cent right now. He went 3-for-18 for the series and his double in Thursday’s game was his first extra base hit since he hit a three-run bomb against Houston before the break.
- I don’t know if this is good or bad.
Just how they drew it up! pic.twitter.com/tqB4h4IxBR— Blue Jays Nation (@thejaysnation) July 20, 2017
Y’know, the Jays sort of look like a playoff team sometimes. This series in particular their play seemed a lot more crisp than we’ve seen recently. The offence, save for Wednesday, was pretty decent, and the ‘pen was able to pick up the starters when needed. But, as Stoeten pointed out, that horrible start was really a killer.
Yankees, in 2nd WC spot, are 48-45. Jays 43-42 since the 1-9 start. It HUUUUUUURT. https://t.co/PpQoAJ11vg— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) July 20, 2017
The Jays will head to Cleveland for three with the Clevelanders, who aren’t playing particularly well recently. After that, they’ll come home for a very, very, very important seven-game stretch against the beatable Angels and Athletics. After that? It’s the trade deadline. So we’ll have a better idea of what August and September are going to look like.