12:00 AM Eastern
This baseball thing is so much easier when you actually have people who can hit the ball out of the park on a regular basis. The Milwaukee Brewers showed the Blue Jays how it’s done, getting only seven hits, but having five of them clear the Miller Park fences, and most of them by whole lot. Heck, even Craig Counsell got in on the act!
For the third straight game, the Blue Jays’ flaccid, embarrassing offense could muster only one hit or fewer through the first four innings. This time, though, they got their second in the fifth – they didn’t get their second hit Sunday until the 7th, Saturday until the 8th. It’s incredibly frustrating when the opposition scores three and you feel as though the game is over. But it’s even more frustrating because it’s true. In games in which the Blue Jays have trailed by three runs at any point this season, they’re 1-21. These aren’t exactly the comeback kids.
And yes, there’s a difference between having the opposition score three and having the Blue Jays fall behind by three. There’s just not nearly as much of a difference with this club as there should be.
As I mentioned on The JaysTalk tonight, the feeling is almost the same as it was in mid-May, when I believed that the Jays were a well-placed loss away from having John Gibbons walk the plank. I thought that if they had been shut out in that final game in Cleveland on May 12th, after they’d scored a grand total of one run in the first three games of the series, that Gibby wouldn’t be on the plane to Minnesota. Through no fault of his own – I don’t think he should be the scapegoat for this. I don’t think there should be a scapegoat at all. This is an offense-wide failure.
The Jays won that game, despite not scoring in the first nine innings, then went to Minnesota and swept the Twins and it was the beginning of a 14-4 run. Since then, they’re 4-11.
Is Gibby in real danger at this moment? As completely unfair as it is, the answer is yes.
I don’t believe that someone should lose his job if it’s not warranted, just to “shake things up” or “because it can’t hurt” or “to let the players know we’re serious”. I don’t believe that firing John Gibbons will make these hitters all of a sudden be able to take advantage of their opportunities offensively, nor do I believe it’ll make the pitchers better (like that’s possible). I haven’t agreed with every move that Gibby has made, obviously (just read the archives), but I certainly don’t believe there’s something he’s lacking that’s even partially responsible for the fact that his hitters turn from big-leaguers into the Lansing Lugnuts with runners in scoring position. And that’s probably an insult to the Lansing Lugnuts.
So what to do now, other than wait? My initial response is move Alex Rios out of the leadoff spot, because it feels as though he’s been awful for months. For the month of June, after the 0-for-4 tonight, he’s hitting .288/.345/.365, so he certainly hasn’t been awful. But not leadoff-worthy. You know who has been? Eckstein. If you want to ride the hot bat, why not move the .333/.391/.385 in June back up top for now?
Look at this – the Jays have actually driven me to consider small sample sizes and act as though they mean something!!!!!!
But the top of the line-up isn’t the issue. Until these last three games, they haven’t had any problems with getting people on base. They came into tonight in a virtual tie for 4th in the league in OBP with Detroit. They can’t cash them. And it continues to be mind-bottling. You can say “they are what they are” all you want, but it’s just not true. 72 games of “Krap with a capital K” doesn’t erase years and years (in a lot of cases) of average to better than average offense. This is why I don’t believe that things can possibly continue like this. I didn’t believe it six weeks ago, and the fact that six weeks have passed (three of them pretty good) doesn’t change that.
So please don’t write into the comments section and ask me if NOW I think the season is over. It’s just as ridiculous now as it was in April.
Here’s tonight edition of The JaysTalk:
Comments are encouraged, as always – The 24/7 JaysTalk is afoot!