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AL East Report – May 25

This sucks. This week sucks even more. 

Last Tuesday was my first AL East report where I said this team had a huge chance to take over first place and for the first time this season they had a bad week. All but one of the games this week was unwinnable, but with a bunch of blown leads, a mismanaged game and hard-to-watch extras, it was definitely a tough week.

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I wrote my first Jays Nation blog last week regarding the situation in the AL East and made some pretty bold claims in hindsight, such as how they had a 22-17 record, how they had one of the best bullpens in the league and how Vlad demolishes the ball like how I demolish unhealthy food.

While all of these were true at the time, they now own a 23-23 record, are 5.5 games back of the new division leading Rays and the bullpen has struggled mightily since last Tuesday. Vlad,  is still among the league leaders in home runs as well as owning the highest fWAR in the league. So that’s nice.

We have to ask ourselves, what went wrong, what is next, and most importantly, will they be able to recover. Unlike last week’s AL East report, this one will be more Jays-focused as both the Red Sox and Rays played key games against Toronto.

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Tampa Bay Rays

I am still quite upset as I started writing this directly after the last game of the series ended. We’ll get to their first series in a moment so I can postpone my suffering for another paragraph.

Their first series of the week was a sweep against the often dunked on Baltimore Orioles. Short paragraphs suck.

Tampa was essentially at home for a four game series in Dunedin. The best word to describe this series in my opinion is the word “pain”. Every single one of these games was close. First was the poorly managed 9-7 loss in the 12th. This is beating a dead horse with a stick, but the reason they lost this game was due to poor management. Next came a 3-1 loss where Robbie “Roie” Ray had a fantastic outing who pitched 7 innings allowing only 1 ER on a surprising 109 pitches. This was actually the first game I missed as I was buying my new kitten, Toaster Oven. 

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Nonetheless, I watched the Ryu start as they blew another lead in the ninth. This is still fresh, so I’m not going to run through it batter by batter, but yeesh. Ryu did well though. In the last game of the series, they rallied down from a 5-0 deficit as well as a 7-5 deficit in extras but the bullpen once again imploded on itself resulting in a 7 run inning 11th inning for the Rays.

I said it in last week’s post and I’ll say it again, the hated Rays are the dark horse to win the division as they are now sitting pretty in first. This week, they start a three game stretch against the Royals, a two game stretch against the Phillies and a game against the Yankees next Monday.

Boston Red Sox

This was a pivotal series as the Jays were in second only a game and a half behind the leading Red Sox. It started off nicely for the Jays who won the first of three convincingly 8-0 this game wasn’t even close because the Jays had eighteen hits with Ryu pitching like the big sexy Korean ace that he is. This brought them to half a game behind first.

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The next game was the only game this week where they didn’t have a chance to win. Ross Stripling did not have a good outing, throwing only 3.2 IP while allowing 6 ER.

In the final game against the Jays, the boys from Boston were down 7-5 in the ninth inning when Dolis came in to close the game. Now, I personally have a love/hate relationship with Dolis. One the one hand, he is a fantastic pitcher, on the other hand, I do not enjoy the extra 30 minutes added to the game; however, with all that being said, he is still an incredibly reliable piece out of the pen. That was not the case on this night as he allowed three runs. This also coincided with people calling for Charlie’s job, which you can read my opinion on here.

It was a difficult series in which the Jays should have won two of three. The Red Sox also faced the Philadelphia Phillies, winning two of three. As of today, they sit second in the AL East and will be facing the Braves for two games, the Marlins for three and a game against the Astros next Monday.

Yankees

Finally, I don’t have to write about why the Jays make me sad; well, perhaps until next week’s post.

The Bronx Bombers have won all six games they’ve played this week which included a sweep against the Tony La Russa led Chicago White Sox as well as sweeping the Rangers. Be original guys. Aaron Judge continues to heat up as he moves his slash line to .308/.407/.978 while DJ LeMahieu continues to struggle.

As for pitching, Gerrit Cole’s ERA jumped to 1.81 in the two games since I wrote last week’s post. This was due to a tough game last Monday against the Rangers giving up 5 ER in 5 IP. However, he returned to form against the Rangers in his last start. Oh, and not to forget Corey Kluber threw a no-hitter.

Looking ahead, they play a pivotal three game series against the Blue Jays, a three game set against the terrible Tigers and one against the hot Tampa Rays. Why can’t the Jays play bad teams? Who knows.

Baltimore Orioles

As is a tradition, I really don’t have much to say. This holds true as I am currently writing this before their game against the Twins starts. They could win, they could lose, quite frankly it doesn’t matter. They have also lost their last six, only the Jays didn’t get swept by lowly Nationals. The bad birds are 11.5 games behind the Rays and their season is all but finished.

Maybe one day they can be competitive again. Just if they put Zach Britton in…

Conclusion

After a tough week which included a six game losing streak, the Jays are “down bad” as the kids say. All but one of those games were close. Unlike what Charlie Montoyo says, this is not the “try league”. Close losses are still losses and Toronto needs to have a competitive week, as they play a divisional rival as well as the above .500 Cleveland Baseball Team. Early season wins are just important as late season wins. Finishing with a record below 4-2 could very well lead to issues further down the line.

What went wrong is pretty clear, the bullpen is gassed. However, I will propose an alternative. On May 19th, the Edmonton Oilers started their playoff series. Both them and the Jays have lost every game since.

As always, thank you for reading. If you want to see more of Toaster Oven, follow me over at Brennan_L_D on twitter. As for me, I will be looking to write more articles for Blue Jays Nation so send me suggestions. One currently in the works is about potential trade partners, starting with my favourite NL team, the Colorado Rockies.