Jays played their 88th game of the season and won it - and won the series as well.
The Blue Jays are now only 2 games under .500.
Tuesday the team travels to Cleveland to begin a set of three; then to Baltimore for three ending Sunday afternoon on the 14th - just before the start of the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, part of the All Star break festivities - which (started on Friday - but really) starts on Monday with the Home Run Derby. Tuesday the 16th is the All Star Game. (see mlb schedule at the bottom of this article)
The Blue Jays first game back after the break is Friday, July 19th in Toronto vs.Tampa Bay Rays.
After Reyes came back, the team's line-up and defence changed ... and while the manager was 'evolving' the team towards whatever it was becoming --- the pitching began it's inevitable return to the terrestrial plain.
Of note - the Jays this season have not had a Starting Rotation. Again this year the staff has been hit by more than their share of injury. All year long the Jays' General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has been borrowing spot starters from a deep roster of pitchers in the Jays' minor league system (the tactic gives the surprise starter's team an advantage, as the opposing team doesn't have good knowledge, or good books on the spot-starter - if he does well he gets another start...). The Jays' record could be seen to be inflated by a couple of wins because of this agressive general managing.
GM Anthopoulos indicated last week to the Toronto Star reporter, Brendan Kennedy that he was open to deals for starting pitching:
thestar.com - July 02, 2013
"Blue Jays: GM Anthopoulos mulling upgrades to starting rotation"
by Brendan Kennedy
"Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos suggested before Tuesday’s game, in his usual oblique manner, that he may be in the market for upgrades to the starting rotation in advance of Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline."
This team has three Starters healthy; the rest is subterfuge.
'The Bullpen's Start'The bullpen has an extremely low ERA.
I'm wondering - since the bullpen's ERA is so extremely tiny - if every 5th start should be designated a bullpen Start. Bullpen pitchers form a 'start committee', create a pitching specialized plan: someone starts the game and throws the number of pitches that they're used to throwing (or perhaps through the order once); then he gets relieved. The next pitcher pitches whatever innings they're used to ... .
On the offensive side, this team is all about speed (Davis, Reyes, Bonifacio, Izturis, Baustista, Kawasaki). But then this team is also all about power (Bautista, Encarnacion, Lind, Arencibia, Rasmus, DeRosa). After a real tough couple of months in April and May, the team finally found itself a batting order just as they kicked into that great month of winning ball that culminated in the 11 game winning streak. Later, after scuffling along for a week, Reyes came back and Cabrera went on the DL (due to his legs issue) - and the line-up doesn't kick like it did before. Then the pitching started sucking and the team wasn't getting enough runs to make up for it - like they were doing during the good month. So how to configure this line-up so the team remains a team even when a Reyes comes back - or a Cabrera is missing?
Melky Cabrera might be a bigger loss to this batting order then one might think. Almost invisible is he, going about his job - hit, hit, hit - like a clock on the mantle. When Bonifacio and Kawasaki were able to turn the line-up over - there was Melky to help keep it going - a key link towards some really big innings.
Izturis is as hot as a potato right now. Nice compliment for all the lead-off hitters grouped at the bottom of the order. (Manager Gibbons has determined that forcing the other team's starter to face Bautista and Encarnacion in the top of the first (batting #2, #3) benefits the team by destroying good pitching early in the game with a big first inning. With Cabrera hitting lead-off, the table was often set - even with-out a classic #2 hitter (or #3 hitter) - the metric was working). With speed and average hitters grouped at the bottom the order the line-up would often turn over resulting in 2 or 3 runners on when Bautista, and then Encarnacion would come up.
Now with the great Cabrera on the mend - is Reyes a Cabrera?Does it make sense to bat Cabrera #2?
All-in-all I'd say, this .500 team is better than their record suggests. The lack of consistent quality starts is the teams Achilles heel right now.
Odd thing to come to - after the Herculean job the bullpen, all the pitchers on the roster, have done so far this year - but there you have it:
What miraculous thing have you done for me lately?
Another starting pitcher please.
ALL STAR stuff:
Edwin Encarnacion was voted onto AL All Star Team by the Players. Baustista voted on by Fans starts in RF. Brett Cecil Going.
Munenori Kawasaki - not going. But your vote is worth nothing (as you may vote as many times as you like - Citizen). So let's vote Kawasaki onto the team!
Actually, you cannot - it's too late.
But you may "Twitter Vote" for Steve Delabar - Tweet this - it's good for one vote; change it slightly, and Tweet (vote) again. #RaiseTheBar is the keyword: Steve Delabar (TOR) - #RaiseTheBar @MLB @BlueJays"
"From 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, July 11, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (noted above) will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the American League and National League winners. Fans will be able to follow @MLB on the popular social networking service for the latest standings updates over the course of the entire five-day voting period."
For complete voting details see:
MLB Press Release: 7/6/2013 "All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com (#finalvote) now under way; Twitter voting returns to Final Vote Thursday, July 11" - http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130706&content_id=52929064&vkey=pr_mlbcom&c_id=mlbcom
via MLB - http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/all_star/y2013/