Friday, August 23, 2013

Sweeping Those Pesky Blue Jays Feels Like Christmas In August

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!
Oh what fun it is to see the Yankees sweep the Jays!

Don't give me that look, Crazy Eddie stores used to have a "Christmas in August" sale.


And doesn't sweeping 4 straight those pesky Blue Jays feel like Christmas in August?

In fact, Toronto led in all 4 games of this series, and the Yankees came from behind to win all 4.

Remember when the Jays were considered preseason favorites to win the American League Eastern Division? How's that workin' out?

Not well.  Here's the AL East standings this morning:

Boston Red Sox 75-54
Tampa Bay Rays 72-53, 1 game behind
Baltimore Orioles 68-58, 5 1/2
New York Yankees 68-59, 6
Toronto Blue Jays 57-71, 17 1/2

Due to having played fewer games, having 4 games in hand -- which is odd, because they play their home games in a dome, you'd think they'd have fewer games postponed due to bad weather -- the Rays are actually 1 game ahead of the Sox in the All-Important Loss Column; the O's 5 back, the Yanks 6 back, the Jays 18 back.

In the off-season, the Jays picked up former Met ace R.A. Dickey, former Chicago White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, and former Miami Marlins ace Josh Johnson.  They also picked up former Met "superstar," shortstop Jose Reyes.

Dickey is 9-12, 4.49 ERA, 1.27 WHIP.
Buehrle is 9-7, 4.23, 1.33.
Johnson is 2-8, 6.20, 1.66.
Reyes is batting 

Before the season, some pretty smart people, acting on an ESPN panel, predicted that the Jays would win the East: Yankee Legend (if only briefly) Aaron Boone, former Oakland Athletics All-Star Mark Mulder, former Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden, and ESPN analysts Jayson Stark, Tim Kurkjian and Michael Knisley.  In addition, panelists such as former Boston superstars Nomar Garciaparra and Curt Schilling picked the Jays to win at least a Wild Card berth.  

"In a balanced division where it's impossible to forecast the last-place team with any certainty, the Blue Jays should still rise above the rest." -- Jorge L. Ortiz, USA Today, March 25

"It's going to be a Blue Jays autumn... First-rate rotation. Powerful lineup. Popular manager back in the saddle. About the only 

question is the bullpen, but the Blue Jays are so good in every other area that the pieces seem likely to fit together." -- Richard Justice, MLB.com, former Houston Chronicle columnist, March 26

"With the determination of the players on the roster, and the fact that the team has a no-nonsense manager in John Gibbons, the Blue Jays should have no issues taking the AL East crown in 2013." -- Michael Straw, Yahoo Sports, March 29

"I realize that I am no doubt biased on this topic, but I attempted to look at this as subjectively as possible, and am still adamant that the Toronto Blue Jays will once again be at the top of the American League East pecking order... Bet on it, bank on it and believe it: The Toronto Blue Jays will once again be playing meaningful baseball in October." -- Clayton Richer, RantSports.com, April 1

They were fooled.  Look, I suppose it's easy to be fooled by the bright lights of Toronto, the 2nd-largest city in the U.S. and Canada combined, if you're from a small town outside Saskatoon, or a seaside community in Nova Scotia.  But when you're a big-time sportswriter who's been to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles a few times, you should know better.

Aside from the Argonauts, who've won 4 Grey Cups in the span (including last year's), here's what Toronto teams have done since Joe Carter touched 'em all, 20 years ago this October 23:

Blue Jays: Haven't made the Playoffs.  Haven't even come close.  Only finished as high as 2nd once, in 2006, and still didn't get close to Playoff qualification.

Raptors: Reached the Playoffs 5 times, winning 11 games and exactly one series (a 2001 first-round series over, you guessed it, the Knicks).

Maple Leafs: Reached the Conference Finals in 1994, 1999 and 2002, but until this past season hadn't made the Playoffs in 9 years, haven't won a Playoff series in 9 years, and still haven't reached the Stanley Cup Finals, let alone won a Cup, since 1967.

So why should anybody be fooled by a Toronto team? Except for the Argos, and that's the Canadian Football League, and how many Americans care about that? ESPN sure doesn't seem to: They don't even show highlights, unless it's a guaranteed "Top 10" -- or a "Not the Top 10."

*

Yesterday's Yanks-Jays game was supposed to start at 1:05, but it was delayed a couple of hours by rain.  When it got underway, Andy Pettitte started against Toronto for the 45th time in his career, easily the most against any team.  He went 6 innings, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits and 3 walks.  He certainly didn't pitch like an old man.  Shawn Kelley got into trouble in the 7th, but after that, Boone Logan (yeah, I was shocked, too), Preston Claiborne and David Robertson pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing just 1 baserunner.

The Jays led 1-0 on a home run by J.P Arencibia leading off the top of the 5th.  But Curtis Granderson led off the Yanks' half of that same inning with his own homer (his 4th of the season).  After a Mark Reynolds flyout, Eduardo Nunez drew a walk, Chris Stewart singled, and Ichiro Suzuki walked to load the bases.  Vernon Wells, who has not been contributing much since May, dunked one into short center field to score Nunez, and that gave the Yankees the lead.

In the bottom of the 6th, with 1 out, the Jays issued 3 straight walks, to Alex Rodriguez, Granderson and Reynolds.  Nunez, who of course is in these games for his bat, not his glove, singled home A-Rod and Grandy.  Chris Stewart got Reynolds home with a groundout.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3.  WP: Pettitte (9-9).  SV: Robertson (2 -- Mariano Rivera had closed 3 games in 2 days, and Joe Girardi gave him the day off).  LP: J.A. Happ (3-3).

Ho, ho, ho!

*

The Yankees have now won 5 straight, and 10 of their last 12.  They fly down to Tampa to take on the Rays, in what could be a very important 3 games.

Tonight, 7:10: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Chris Archer.

Tomorrow night, 7:10: CC Sabathia vs. David Price.

Sunday afternoon, 1:40: Ivan "Super" Nova vs. Alex "Don't Call Me Ty" Cobb.

If the Yanks can take at least 2 out of 3, it would send a message that the race isn't over yet.

There are 35 games to go.  Come on you Bombers!

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