12:17AM Eastern

The best thing about the Blue Jays’ road trip through Central Florida and the Dallas Metroplex?  It’s over.

It began with great promise, a win over the Rays in which the worm appeared to maybe have kind of started turning, and it ended with five straight losses, two of them in extra innings and two of them massive blowouts.

The Jays didn’t save the worst for last – the worst was Friday night – but they came pretty close as Kyle Drabek coughed up a seven-spot to the Rangers in the second inning, fuelled by his old enemy, a lack of control.  With a leadoff single aboard, Drabek walked three of the next four hitters, the last with the bases loaded to force in the game’s first run, and from then on it was all big hits.  A two-run double for Ian Kinsler, another for Elvis Andrus, and after Josh Hamilton was retired, a two-run home run for Adrian Beltre.  Kinsler added a two-run homer of his own the next inning, and the Rangers had a 9-1 lead through three, easily on their way to a series sweep.

The Blue Jays came back to make the final score not a thorough embarrassment, but they were never in the game.  Drabek’s brutal outing at least allowed the Jays to take an extended look at Jesse Chavez, who was called up along with Chad Beck to help deal with the massively overworked bullpen, and Chavez took it the rest of the way, holding Texas off the scoreboard in four of his five innings (though he gave up a three-run homer to Mike Napoli in the other one) and at one point striking out five Rangers in a row.

The outing must be taken with a little bit of a grain of salt, though, because by the time he came in the Rangers were on cruise control, with the Blue Jays never cutting their lead to fewer than six runs.

As for the Jays’ offense, Colby Rasmus continued to swing it well from the second spot in the order, belting a two-run homer to go with a single and a double, and J.P. Arencibia added a pair of solo shots to give him the major-league lead in home runs by a catcher with nine.

Kelly Johnson wasn’t able to go for the second straight game because of a sore hamstring, and Yunel Escobar had to leave mid-game with a groin injury – he tightened up going first to third on a Rasmus single in the third inning.  With both middle infielders out, Brett Lawrie finished the game at shortstop while Omar Vizquel stayed at second, Jose Bautista moved in to third base and Rajai Davis went out to right.  In other news, Adeiny Hechavarria didn’t play in the Las Vegas game on Sunday.  He’s hitting .314/.367/.459 with the 51s – remember, those are Vegas numbers – and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he’s on his way to Toronto to play some shortstop as Escobar and Johnson heal up.

With Beck and Chavez called up, the two Blue Jays who went down were Ryota Igarashi and Yan Gomes.  Igarashi looked just awful in two appearances this weekend, and was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Chavez, while Gomes showed very well in his brief trial in the bigs, but he’ll go down to Vegas to ensure that he has an opportunity to play every day and will  be back in the bigs soon enough.

Here’s Sunday afternoon’s edition of The BlueJaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:

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Imagine how it will be if, at some point during the season, the Blue Jays actually have a losing record.  They haven’t yet, at any point.  The Rangers and Orioles are the only other A.L. teams who can say that.

I understand the frustration, honest I do, but the team is doing about what it should have been expected to be doing this season, especially given the struggles of the bullpen, the lack of production from first, left and centre and the growing pains of the starting rotation.  They just went on the road to play what might be the two best teams in the American League and got their tails kicked – it’s no fun, but it happens.  They’re still very much in the thick of things for a playoff berth and, again, right about where they should have been expected to be.  I don’t think it’s fair to be upset with the Blue Jays because they had a great Spring Training and so many fans believed they were more of a playoff threat than they actually are.

They’ll get a chance to make some headway this week as they return to Rogers Centre for a six-game homestand – three each with the Orioles and Red Sox.  Monday night’s opener against Baltimore features Drew Hutchison against O’s righty and Canadian country music icon Tommy Hunter.  The Orioles were 27-14 to start the season, same as the 2009 Blue Jays (which happens to have been the only Jays team in the last seven years to finish with a losing record), and since that point, Baltimore has lost five of seven and fallen into a first-place tie with the Rays.  We’ll be on at 7:00PM Eastern – join us won’t you?

Please give me a follow on The Twitter – you can find me @wilnerness590.

Comments are welcome, I read them all and respond to most!

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22 Responses to “Road Trip From Hell”
  1. 1.

    Mike, The Jays’ pitching rotation leads the league, by a large margin, in walks. Does that concern you as a statistic? I don’t see how the Jays can compete if they continue to lead the AL in walks – do you disagree?

    MW: It will be very, very difficult if they continue to lead the league in walks. But I don’t know that there’s a good reason to expect that they will.

    - jaysoptimist
  2. 2.

    When you hear about non pitcher pitching in the majors, like you did just this week, it usually happens when your team is losing 10-1 and your bullpen is shredded – Farrell should hot have pitched Frasor. Every team has some loudmouth how boasts that he can pitch and probably does throw some bp, that is who he should have put in.

    MW: In the 13th inning with a one-run lead and the tying run on second?

    - Wayne
  3. 3.

    Some comments on the road trip:

    Drabek got his butt kicked yesterday because his formula where he magically gets out of jams didn’t play for him. When you walk a pile of people, you will at some point get hammered for that. Drabek’s stats for RISP were incredibly good and eventually, that had to change. Hopefully, he learns from this (and hopefully the whole team does) and starts to throw good strikes and see if his fielders can get people out.

    If Chavez is not on a plane back to Vegas today, I wonder if he will take Hutchinson’s place in the starting rotation should he have a bad start tonight (or Drabek has a bad start on Saturday).

    Do you really think that Guerrero will be with the Jays by say, June 6th against the White Sox? And if so, what does this mean for Adam Lind and Edwin? Or are the reports true that they are going to allow Guerrero to play left and send Thames down? I see plenty of options playing themselves out but I really don’t think Lind should stay down for much longer. The next two weeks for the roster I think will be very very interesting.

    MW: I think Guerrero may be up sooner than that, and what that means for Lind is that he’s going to stay in Vegas for a while longer. I can’t imagine they’d let Guerrero play the outfield on a regular basis.

    - Tim in Niagara Falls
  4. 4.

    You are right mike, it was a brutal road trip. Drabek seemed to revert back to the way he was last year before getting sent down.

    Hopefully, this is just a blob in jays starter loosing control of the strike zone.

    On the bright side, out of those games they lost, they could have won two of them – romero and drabek worries me though, they seem to performing worse in their last outings, especially the walks

    - Francis
  5. 5.

    Hi Mike,

    I tried to call yesterday to the Blue Jays Talk but that last dude took up too much time ranting and raving about stuff that made no sense.

    Anyway- it was a garbage trip yes, but I think we need to say that Colby Rasmus is starting to look rather good. His D we all know about, but he looks so comfortable and confident at the plate. I would say for the last almost 3 weeks, he has been hitting everything hard, and has rarely had a bad at bat. So many people called in and wrote in about how bad he was, I am surprised no one is giving him credit when it is due. He just always had too nice of a swing to be as bad a s he was, and even when he was getting out this year, I think it was more bad luck than anything.

    Last thing- The JP Ricciardi era was a failure, and I think it boiled down to the Jays inability to ever address left field, and still to this day they have not been able to do so. Why do you think that one position has been their achilles for the better part of 15 years, and it continues to be- it seems- and will continue to be for the foreseeable future?

    MW: I really don’t know what the answer is. You’re right, they haven’t had a big-time left fielder – either a leadoff type or a slugger – for years and years. No clue why that’s been so tough, it doesn’t seem as though it would be a terribly difficult position to fill. I guess they’ve tended to have faith in the wrong guys.

    - chris
  6. 6.

    Eh I wouldn’t really say it was a road trip from hell. Just a bad one. The real RTFH was that 0-9 one a few years ago. Three straight sweeps.

    MW: I don’t believe I said it was the worst road trip ever.

    - BlueJayWay
  7. 7.

    Rasmus is turning it around thanks, I think, to a better approach at the plate. I don’t know what the approach is, but one can arrive at such a conclusion simply by looking at his strikeouts-to-walks ratio. So far this season, his ratio is 2.1. In his excellent 2010 season with the Cards, it was much higher – 2.3 to be exact. Better still, in the past 5 games, he has produced a SO/BB ratio of just 1.2, and it has translated into much better overall production. The other reason to be optimistic is that his BABIP for the season is just .260, which is much below his career average of .294. In 2010, he had a BABIP of .354, which means one of two things: either he was really, really lucky in 2010, or he is poised to become an excellent quality hitter, capable of hitting many line drives for doubles and triples and stuff.

    Quality hitters (take Tony Gwynn for example, who had a career BABIP of .341) typically have career BABIPs in the .350 range. Gwynn did not ‘get lucky’ every year; he was just a really good hitter. I don’t think, even for a second, that we should expect Rasmus to have a career like Gwynn’s (who, by the way, had a career SO/BB ratio of just 0.55). But if he can maintain the approach he has been applying at the plate over the past few games (getting the walks up, and the strikeouts down), there is good reason to suggest he’ll be a much more productive hitter than he has been the past couple of seasons.

    In my opinion, the barometer for which direction Colby is headed lies in the SO/BB ratio, which, as I have pointed out, has moved in the right direction over the past month or so.

    I think this admittedly small sample size is really good news. Keep it up, Colby!

    - Sandy
  8. 8.

    Get Lind back here…….we need his power, been solid in Vegas. I want a top first basement but unless one drops from space Lind is better than most options. Cooper is a poor mans Lyle Overbay, not the answer. I get the reasons now get him back. I agree we are still ok on the record Wilner but we are one horrible home stand of behing very very far from contention……

    One trade is not going to do it either we need a LF, 1st, and pitching….thats a huge christmas list.

    Hopefully people get off of Colby’s back now, the guy is full of talent and his defense alone saves runs…we would be in trouble if we had just Thames and Joey with Davis…all weak defensiviely, sans Joes Bats who is average with a plus plus arm.

    When we have to use Davis this much we in trouble. Hes a great option but for certain situations, he pops out way to much and rarly seems to get infield hits for some reason…..the guy has a terrible approach at the plate, use your speed please!!!

    Our pitching was due to expload we have a lot of youth and unproven talent, they have kept us going for a long time with our below average abats. GO BACK TO SMASHING BALLS MENTALILTY PLEASE…..we are not the yanks or red sox, we dont have willy vets that can run the count up. Get a fast ball down the middle smash it…..when you try to be someone you are not you will fail! we are an agressive up tempo team so lets get it going!

    - Moon
  9. 9.

    Coughing up 34 runs over three consecutive road games (and 47 over five games) tells me–LOUD AND CLEAR–that our current rotation AND bullpen have some serious issues that need to be dealt with if we are going to be playing ANY meaning baseball in September.

    MW: They certainly did over the last three games.

    - B A H
  10. 10.

    So basically your saying the blue jays are a .500 team and fans were stupid to think they were better in the preseason?

    MW: My not saying that at all.

    - ad
  11. 11.

    I’m not saying fangraphs WAR is the best measure out there but it does encorporate all facets of the game and uses measures like wOBA and UZR for comparison purposes. I think it’s pretty telling to see that Johnson, Lawrie, EE, Rasmus, Escobar, Bautista and Arencibia are all relatively close together from 1.5 to 0.8 worth of fWAR and that Thames and Lind are at -0.6 and -0.7, respectively.

    They’ve already made a move with Lind and I think they would be well-served to recall Snider to play LF as soon as he comes back healthy and plays a couple rehab games with Las Vegas. When you go into the defensive numbers for all outfielders with over 1000 innings over the last 2 seasons Thames really does rank up there as 3rd worst in UZR/150 and 5th worst in UZR with a -18.6 and -13.3, respectively.

    I feel like I’m beating the dead horse but I really haven’t seen anyone put any context like this to how bad Thames has been in LF. I mostly hear anecdotal things like ‘he takes bad routes’ or ‘he misses the cutoff man a lot’. It really would make a huge impact on the team to have Snider defensively for 9 innings a game and UZR does back this up when you look at the difference between the two players. With Lawrie at 3B, Escobar at SS, Rasmus in CF and Snider in LF that whole left quadrant of defense would really be the best in the game.

    MW: I’m not disputing the fact that Thames is a below-average defensive left fielder, but even the creator of UZR says it’s a misleading stat unless you have three years worth of data.

    - Scott
  12. 12.

    Mike, I know you like the Defensive Runs Saved metric so I’d like to mention that stat as well. Thames ranks 6th worst among all major league OFs the past 2 years in DRS (-16) with only Logan Morrison, Raul Ibanez, Lucas Duda, Michael Cuddyer and Vernon Wells (in 400 more innings) ranking worse than him.

    - Scott
  13. 13.

    Hi Mike,
    Let’s hope the Jays fare better this week at home.
    I have a question: The Jays were “away” last week for Victoria Day, and “home” today for what is Memorial Day in the USA. This isn’t rocket science. Wouldn’t it be great if the Jays were always home on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Simcoe Day, and away on Memorial Day & July 4th? All it would do would be to increase revenues for MLB.

    - Dan Rosenberg
  14. 14.

    michael,
    i too am a baseball god just like that one caller from the fri. nite phone in show.
    but i don’t live in scarborough.
    other than that though him and i have alot in common it seems.
    i know alot about this game of baseball too ok… that’s just how us baseball gods roll.
    and i have to tell you i shared alot of his exact same opinions re: the blue jays pitching.
    we definitely need another lefty similar to morrow in the starting rotation or at the very least another hard throwing righty like romero.
    and it wouldn’t hurt to find ourselves another righty specialist for the bullpen similar to derek oliver.
    that’s right bucko. you heard me. that’s what we need alright.
    but i doubt very much whether this organization will even bother to listen to him or me on this.
    they should though i tell you. cause’ we know our stuff michael.
    b.g.

    - darrell bishop
  15. 15.

    michael,
    oh and a couple other things if i could…
    after listening to the abbreviated phone in show early yesterday evening i was convinced that when i woke up this morning it was going to be pitch black.
    but holy smokes the sun did come up afterall.
    whew!
    that was a close one by the sounds of it.
    oh… and a quick question for you in regards to the general conjecture of all those calls from yesterday as well.
    has a team in mlb ever come back from 2.5 games out of a playoff spot with over a 100+ games still to play and made the playoffs or should we just be realistically starting to look to 2013??

    - darrell bishop
  16. 16.

    The guy who insisted Ryota Igarashi be made Jays closer…did he call back yet and admit you were right?

    MW: That would have been awesome. Of course not.

    - terry the censor
  17. 17.

    it’s pretty funny that you can write with a straight face that the jays are “in the thick of things for a playoff berth”.

    i know you like to stay positive, but you’re starting to sound almost as ridiculous as many of the callers that phone in to jaystalk.

    the truth is, informed fans realized as soon as AA failed to land a veteran/proven starter that the rotation was going to really struggle; even if there were going to be moments of quality performance, it would be near impossible for youngsters to keep it up through a whole year.

    add to that issue, the desperation for certain guys to prove their recent years of poor performance weren’t the norm (cough lind) and you really can’t claim (as you did mike after the preseason) that this team is an actual playoff calibre team.

    definitely they’re fun to watch, and it’s always a treat to be at the ballpark (esp with the roof open) but all that hyperbole that you’ve been spouting about AA being a ‘ninja’ and the like really is ridiculous. hopefully as you carry on your sportscasting gig you even out your tendencies to set yourself up as a predicitive authority and stick more to the actual facts as they unfold.

    To my mind, while it’s all well and good to laud AA on building a great AAA roster, he hasn’t done much to inspire confidence that he knows how to actually assemble a steady, playoff-calibre MLB program. We’ll see how it plays out of the next couple of years, but this year’s team certainly doesn’t seem to have a lot of MLB coherence to it; at least after the first two months anyway.

    MW: I appreciate you wanting to write in and rip me, but you really should get your facts straight. I don’t make predictions and the farthest thing from the truth is to suggest that I’ve painted myself as a predictive authority. There can be no question that Alex Anthopoulos is a ninja, as he operates in stealth and silence. And seeing as they’re 2 1/2 games out of a wild card spot with 114 games to play, there is no way to paint the Blue Jays as being anywhere else but in the thick of the playoff race. Those things are not opinions, they are facts.

    - cb
  18. 18.

    Hey Mike, as of the time I type this, ‘Burned By Fumes’ & ‘Road Trip From Hell’ has game 3 BlueJaysTalk, and ‘Sort Of A Night To Forget’ has gm 2 BlueJaysTalk. In your twitter feed, you suggested they were correct and a refresh was needed…it didn’t work. And I missed the diety caller, and really want to hear it!

    MW: It’s been fixed! Sorry about the confusion this weekend.

    - Marls
  19. 19.

    Mike do you ever see MLB having a balanced schedule becasue I would like to see them play against Detroit more often and be rivals with them and they are the closest MLB team to Toronto.

    MW: I hope so. Next year will be very telling as far as schedule changes go.

    - Paul
  20. 20.

    The Jays were last .500 on April 27th at 10-10. They were also 6-6 and 4-4.

    At least they have never been under .500. Hopefully they are back above tonight.

    - Jeff
  21. 21.

    The way I see it when it comes to scheduling for next year, I see it as this:

    72 games against AL East, 30 games against AL Central, 30 games against AL West, and 30 games against the National League. I like an East / East, Central / Central, West/West matchup. So the Jays play the Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves, and Marlins in home and home series. This would setup some pretty interesting interleague rivalries and minimize travel.

    Otherwise, one series in 8 will need to be interleague, so at a minimum, I see 21 interleague games for each team. Why not make it 30 and really balance out the schedule?

    MW: That’s not a really balanced schedule, it’s highly imbalanced towards the division, but the math works. For me, the less interleague play, the better.

    - Tim in Niagara Falls
  22. 22.

    Sorry to bug you Mike, but the BlueJaysTalk still hasn’t been fixed. Maybe I’ll never get to hear the diety call?!

    MW: Hmmmmmm……

    - Marls
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