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:
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?
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