Remember when the Blue Jays won three of four against the Rays earlier this week? Remember when they had moved into a tie for third in the American League East and were only three games out of a playoff spot? Remember when times were good?
Well, the Jays went to Wrigley Field this weekend for the first time since 2005 and got curb-stomped by the Cubs, essentially erasing that gusty series win against Tampa Bay.
On Friday, J.A. Happ got tagged by the Cubs offence, allowing five runs over five innings. After Jake Arrieta left the game, the Jays rallied off of Chicago’s bullpen, led by a clutch Ryan Goins hit, but Wade Davis came in and slammed the door. 7-4 Cubs.
On Saturday, Nick Tepesch navigated in and out of trouble before getting yanked in the fourth inning. The Jays bullpen did a solid job of keeping the team in it, but the offence wasn’t able to get much going off of Jose Quintana, and, yet again, Wade Davis slammed the door. 4-3 Cubs.
On Sunday, it looked like the Jays had managed to edge one out, and, in the process, managed to salvage the series. Marco Estrada pitched a strong game, the middle relievers were good, and Kevin Pillar put the Jays ahead in the tenth. But Roberto Osuna and Raffy Lopez imploded in the bottom of the tenth, allowing the Cubs to score three runs on two reaches via strikeout, a hit by pitch, and two singles. My lord. It was fucking terrible. 6-5 Cubs.
Things that were good
- It’s not easy to draw positives from that yard sale. The Jays were never really hammered in any of the games like we’ve seen at other points this season, but their lack of quality depth became really evident this weekend.
- Marco Estrada had a solid start, allowing three runs over six innings. All of them came in a weird third inning in which a batter reached after hitting Estrada with a comebacker and the opposing pitcher reached on a perfectly placed popup bunt. All in all, it was another promising start for Estrada, who really should be given an extension.
- Kevin Pillar had an excellent series with the bat, going 6-for-13 with a key RBI in Sunday’s game. That’s obviously a great sign considering Pillar had been having a hell of a time offensively as of late, and has managed to pull his OPS back over .700.
- The bullpen was largely solid considering the tough hand they’ve been dealt by Toronto’s depleted starting rotation. Danny Barnes pitched a strong two innings on Saturday making up for Nick Tepesch’s poor start, Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup each had a couple of strong appearances, and even Matt Dermody had a strong outing.
Things that weren’t good
- The tenth inning on Sunday. Holy hell, what the fuck? I mean, I don’t want to rag too hard on Raffy Lopez because he’s, like, Toronto’s fourth string catcher or something, but man, that was a hell of a display. Roberto Osuna also didn’t look his same dominant self in that appearance, which is something we’ve had to say too often this season. Osuna deserves a pass, though, because the guy has been overworked immensely the past few seasons and he did manage to technically get the three outs he needed that inning.
- You can really tell that when Josh Donaldson’s offence goes, the rest of the team does too. Donaldson went nuclear against the Rays, almost singlehandedly lifting the Jays to those three wins. But this weekend, he was quiet, picking up just one hit in the series. And, as a result, the Jays didn’t get much going offensively.
- It’s probably time to put an end to the Nick Tepesch era. He was able to grind through just three-and-two-thirds innings on Saturday, putting the ‘pen in an ugly situation. The Jays acquired Tom Koehler after the game from the Marlins, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the last we saw of the journeyman Tepesch.
- I’ve tried pretty hard to be optimistic despite the fact that a playoff appearance — or run, really — was unlikely, but this series was probably the nail in the coffin. They’re still only five games out, but hell, when they lose, it’s very convincing. Oh well, thankfully it’s almost September, we can watch the rosters expand and see some young players get an opportunity to play, I guess.
It might not be our year, guys.— Jonah Birenbaum (@birenball) August 20, 2017
The Jays will go to Tampa Bay for three games against the Rays after a much-needed day off on Monday. If they can sweep Tampa, cool. If not, meh.