Blue Jays continue winning ways but are unable to lock down the first series sweep of the year (again)

Photo credit:© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
4 days ago
Beginning the season on a three-series road trip, the Toronto Blue Jays returned home on April 8th with a 4-6 record and a lot of questions needing answers.
The bats were inconsistent, with Astros right-hander Ronel Blanco notching the first no-hitter of the season while some of the go-to pitchers in both the rotation and bullpen were still getting their feet under them. This slow start didn’t extend to everyone on the pitching staff, namely José Berríos, Yusei Kikuchi, and Yimi Garcia, who were all excelling out of the gate, but the Jays were last in the AL East, and things looked bleak for a team making analytical lineup decisions that drew the ire of the fanbase early as well.
Fast forward to today, and the tides have changed for the Blue Jays. They have turned things around in the win department to improve their record to 12-9 on the season, winning six of their last eight contests after dropping yesterday’s game against San Deigo. The Jays have also won their last four series, taking two of three from the Mariners, Rockies, Yankees, and the Padres to move into third place within the division.
While the Jays have improved their record in a short span, the team has been close on numerous occasions to sweeping a series but has yet to lock the accomplishment down, letting at least one game from each of the last four series get away from them. In particular, the Mariners, Yankees, and Padres series saw the Jays win the first two games before dropping the finale, with the sweep in the Rockies series coming off the table early when Colorado was all over Jays starter Kevin Gausman in the first contest, winning that game 12-4.
Considering the Jays’ schedule has seen them face the Yankees on two separate occasions as well as multiple predicted postseason squads in the Rays, Mariners, and Astros (although their slow start has swayed that theory), to sit with a 12-9 record when some of the top players on the Jays haven’t been seeing results on the field is nothing to slouch at. The awkwardness is the “what could have been,” as the Jays were very close to sweeping three of the last four series but each time, they fell apart late in the game, seeing the win slip away in the last game.
For the Mariners series, a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. home run in the seventh inning tied the game at 1-1 but the bats were unable to capitalize with loaded bases in the ninth, sending the game to extras. Reliever Tim Mayza immediately allowed a home run to plate two runs (runner on second) and then lost control of the strike zone, leaving the game with one out and runners on first and second. After Mitch White was finally able to get out of the inning, the Mariners tagged the Jays relievers for five runs, and the Jays couldn’t respond, losing 6-1.
A similar fate befell the Jays in their most recent series against New York, where after winning the first two games, the Jays relief corps entered the ninth inning with a 4-2 lead but Erik Swanson and Mayza were unable to contain the big bats in the other dugout.
Giancarlo Stanton got the inning started with a solo home run, and Swanson would leave the game with runners on second and third with one out. Mayza couldn’t shut the door, allowing two singles and a walk to Juan Soto that added three more in the inning and gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead when all was said and done, with Clay Holmes collecting the save in the bottom half of the inning.
For the Padres series, the results were a little less dramatic in the third game compared to the Mariners and Yankees contests, as the Padres held a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning before adding two more insurance runs to put the game on ice, with San Diego winning the finale and avoiding the brooms. There were some miscues defensively and on the mound, namely an untimely catcher’s interference and a George Springer error that aided the Padres in avoiding the sweep.
Posting an 8-4 record after a rough 10 games to start the campaign is a positive sign for Toronto, especially since some of the Blue Jays bats haven’t been as active as many have been hoping for early in the season.
Guerrero Jr. has improved at the plate over the past week (outside of yesterday’s ninth-inning at-bat), collecting eight hits and five walks through his last seven games while Daulton Varsho has stolen the show as of late, making outstanding plays in the outfield and crushing three home runs with seven hits total through his last 20 at-bats. The left-handed batter has now raised his OPS to .836 on the year while leading the team with five home runs (including a grand slam) and a .530 SLG and tying for the RBI lead with Justin Turner (11).
Turner has been a bright spot on the Jays as well, leading the way with his .905 OPS and leading the team with 20 hits. Both Davis Schneider and Ernie Clement have hit well to start the year as well, including two separate solo home runs yesterday at Petco Park, forcing manager John Schneider to play them with some increased frequency.
Both Berríos and Kikuchi have been leading the rotation to start the season while Chris Bassitt has improved over his last two starts, dropping his ERA from 7.71 (April 3rd) to 3.90 after yesterday’s 5 1/3 inning outing in California. Newcomer Yariel Rodríguez is also off to a strong start after making his Major League debut last weekend, striking out 13 batters through 7 2/3 while splitting time with Bowden Francis.
Looking ahead, the Blue Jays will face a Kansas City Royals squad led by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who has helped his club start to a 13-9 record to begin the campaign. The Jays will return home to face Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Dodgers starting Friday after their three-game series in Kansas City, which is sure to pack the Rogers Centre as fans get a chance to see “what could have been” after an eventful offseason (as well as see one of the top teams in the NL West).

Tyson Shushkewich is a contributor at the Blue Jays Nation. He can be followed on X or Instagram at Tyson_MLB or reached via email at Tyson_MLB@hotmail.com

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