The Rollercoaster Ride Continues
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton/USA Today
2 months ago
Six days ago, the Blue Jays entered the most important series of their season with one mission: Win the four-game series against the Texas Rangers to solidify a playoff spot.
The assignment didn’t seem insurmountable. A playoff-worthy team would surely win at least one game in a four-game series. Instead, they did the impossible and lost all four games to the surging Rangers. The whole season seemed like one giant mistake with everyone mocking the Jays for their hilariously abysmal underperformance.
Offence was nowhere to be found and pitching helplessly faltered throughout their series against the Rangers. This team seemed beyond lethargic heading into a series against the Boston Red Sox this weekend. No one was betting on the Jays to win this time. The team showed too much of its flaws for four games straight, there was no way they could recover from this, especially against a team that has nothing to lose.
Then, something bizarre happened. Vladimir Guerrero Jr, launched a three-run home run against rookie Brayan Bello while Jays’ starting pitcher José Berríos relievers Jordan Hicks and Jordan Romano successfully blanked the Red Sox offence. The bats didn’t exactly come alive in this game for the Jays but they did just enough to win the game.
The Blue Jays now had to win one more game to win the series against the Red Sox. All they needed was a lights-out pitching performance with a slugfest. But this is the 2023 Blue Jays – nothing comes easily for this team at all. On Saturday, the Jays couldn’t hit anything against the Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale as they struck out swinging ten times.
This game had “loss” written all over for the Jays as they committed horrendous baserunning mistakes almost every single inning and the offence couldn’t muster up any runs. While Guerrero Jr. cut down the Red Sox lead to half (2 – 1) as he took Chris Sale deep, the rest of the Jays failed to provide any other run support. That was the case until Cavan Biggio singled against Red Sox reliever John Schreiber and Daulton Varsho smashed a triple to get Biggio home. It was now a 2-2 tie game at the bottom of the ninth inning.
Surely, the Jays were going to walk off the Red Sox to score one more run at the bottom of the ninth inning. However, the Jays didn’t make it easy on themselves by blanking for three straight innings while successfully stopping the Red Sox offence from a roaring comeback mostly. Nobody was trying to win the game, and it seemed that the Jays simply didn’t have it to win a game against their division rival.
Everyone was rooting for the game as the Jays entered the bottom of the 13th inning. The game had the potential to go until the 20th inning at this point if their offence couldn’t even deliver one hit. One swing to end the game would have been nice and funny enough, the Jays did just that. When Whit Merrifield swung a pitch from Red Sox reliever Mauricio Llovera, the game ended with the Jays’ victory.
You’d think that hit for the Jays would be a walk-off home run. But I’m sorry to inform you that a walk-off home run is out of the equation for these 2023 Blue Jays. It was a swinging bunt from Merrifield out of all things that saved the Jays from losing the game. A swinging bunt! It was a fitting end to an endlessly chaotic and hilarious game.
Does it matter as to how a team wins a game? In a grander scheme, maybe it does, but for the 2023 Blue Jays, that’s not the case. A win was a win and they needed to cash in as many as they could.
It’d be amazing if the Jays bats all awoke at the same time to deliver the white-hot offence for the remaining 13 games. That ship unfortunately sailed a long time ago. Their offence is what it is – it’s a gritty and tense offence that relies highly on a small ball. It’s undeniable that this offence has been less than fun to watch compared to the last two seasons. But they do get the job done when they need it the most.
The frustrating baseball experience is their method to the madness and it keeps working for them time and time again. It shouldn’t but it does. As the Jays head into the last game against the Red Sox and continue their stretch against the AL East opponents, they need to deliver on their grit.
Nothing for the 2023 Blue Jays made any sense whatsoever so far. Instead of resisting and questioning their identity, the Jays need to turn that into fuel to win as many games as they can. Will anyone remember how they won the games years from now? Probably not. They’ll only remember the wins for what they are and will reminisce about how good some games were.
Call the 2023 Blue Jays whatever you want. Mind-numbingly frustrating, frustrating, disappointing, underwhelming. You name it. Or you could just simply say that they are a hilarious bunch with a twisted sense of humour. They are a hilarious team and will always deliver on hilarity regardless of how ugly their wins are. This is their brand and they need to embrace it more to bulldoze their rivals. After all, who says that they can’t be the frustratingly gritty bulldozers? Precisely.
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