Wake up with Vladdy Guerrero Jr. smashing a classic homerun

The Blue Jays have already won the series with the Yankees ahead of game three. Game two was a showcase of home run crushing strength and team hitting led by the ever so legendary Vlad Guerrero Jr.

Guerrero’s three-run homer in the bottom of the 8th inning gave the Jays the lead as well as flashbacks to his dad hitting dogshit pitches out of stadiums:

The deep, one-handed swing on a ball that was an inch off the dirt – it’s an absolute carbon copy of Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and some of his absurd home runs. As much as the hitting gene clearly got passed on, so to did the clutch gene. Jr. bashed that ball in a time where the Yankee’s superior bullpen should have taken over this game. Instead,

The youth movement was working last night in the Big Smoke, with Guerrero leading the way. Gurriel scored twice on two walks, Jansen had a hit an a walk, Guerrero had two hits for himself including this three-run bomb, Cavan Biggio had a hit, two walks, and an RBI, and Teoscar Hernandez had a pair of doubles in his return to the big league club.

Shout out toe Randall Grichuk and Brandon Drury, too. The two more veteran players collectively had three home runs on four hits totaling four RBI’s to keep the Jays in the game. It’s early but it appears bringing in Drury and extending Grichuk is paying off for Atkins and Shapiro.

The team that is often criticized for not being competitive enough, but that’s simply not true as proved last night. The young-guns will get more and more comfortable with MLB pitching, and with that will come development and progress in the wins/losses column. One thing is certain when the bats are working, this team is VERY fun to watch.

Jays Beat Nats, Nats Beat Yanks = Jays Best Team in AL East?

I’m just asking for a friend, but I think that the Jays may be the best team in the American League based off of the transitive property – don’t blame me, blame science! But seriously, what is going on with the Blue Jays? It’s a small sample size but the Jays have gone 7-3 in their last ten, sweeping the Orioles and Nats, while getting swept by the Rays in Tampa (obviously).

A few reasons that the Jays have had a recent turn in form are: Devon Travis, Randal Grichuk, Yangervis Solarte, and Marco Estrada.

Devon Travis, a career bandaid player, was recalled from a minor league rehabbing stint on may 22nd. A man possessed since returning, Travis has been hitting .538 avg. in his last seven games, including two home runs and five RBIs in that stretch. This brings his season average to .238 and home runs to four with 11 RBIs, emphasizing the impact his most recent 13 at bats have had on his season total 122 at bats.

Yangervis Solarte has just been more of the exciting, electric player he has been since coming to the Jays. His average is sitting at .258 with a .310 on base percentage, virtually mirrored in his last seven days at .286 avg and .286 obp (all evens out, right?). He is handling the job of team slugger, with three home runs, even if they are coming with no one on base, four RBIs. He seems to be the pulse of the team and has now officially surpassed Ace as team mascot – just watch the dug out when anyone hits a bomb, their hands up dancing just like Solarte was doing in April! He may be an important piece for more than just his on field performance as any contending team could use his switch hitting bat, and infield utility defence.

Randal Grichuk,¬†MY GUY. Since coming off of the DL on June 1st he has been more than advertised when he was brought in to the Blue Jays fold this off season. In June, fresh off the DL, Grichuk has been hitting .326 avg. with 3 home runs and 5, yes 5, home runs. He has been lights out and seems mentally refreshed since coming off his injury rehab. Is it sustainable, well I previously say no, but I guess we’ll see, won’t we! Grichuk is up to .196 .avg on the season, and 7 home runs. He has turned his game around and as long as he can keep it close to this form for the rest of the season, Toronto and the fans are the real benefactors of his improved and exciting play.

Marco Estrada¬†has been a real mixed bag as a pitcher this season, and it has been a mix of “what type of bad is Estrada going to be?”, not “will he be good or bad?”. However, the former pitching ace has seemingly turned his form in June, posting a 1.45 era and going 2-0 in 3 starts. It’s hard to say what has been effecting Estrada’s game last season and leaking into 2018, however whether it is mental clarity or mechanical reworking that has settled him down in June, Estrada is finally pitching like he can and is actually helping his team get closer to winning.

A few shoutouts for great play are J.A. Happ and Teoscar Hernandez. Happ has been great as he has been all season, locating his fastball and mixing pitches like the vet he is. Teoscar on the other hand, always seems to have a homer run or timely hit loaded in his bat for Jays fans to get excited about. Outside of these two, and another plus to the Blue Jays is the long coming return of Marcus Stroman. It will likely see Sam Gaviglio sent back to the minors, but that may be for the best as he has struggled in his last two starts.

Any way you cut it, the Blue Jays are playing some exciting ball right now and giving the fans something to stick around for. I’ll gladly take a team that can sweep elite and terrible opponents while mystically being befuddled in the league’s shittiest stadium for no apparent reason. As long as they win some game and crank some dingers, that all we want for this season now!

After an AL beat down streak, Blue Jays smack back at Twins

With the series finale slated for a matinee affair on May 2nd, the Toronto Blue Jays have seemingly bounced back after getting taught some tough lessons against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, against the Minnesota Twins.

Resilience will need to be a a key factor in the Blue Jay’s character this season if they want to hang around in the playoff race. But, as it stands the Blue Jays are doing what playoff contenders do – beat the mediocre teams and hang with the good ones.

The once thought to be strength of the Jays, the pitching rotation has shown a few chinks in the armor so far. Marco Estrada and the long ball, a tale as old as time, has been an issue this season.As well, Jaime Garcia looking for consistency in his pitching, especially against players who will make you pay. But both are nothing in comparison to the often outspoken and now under performing Marcus Stroman.

He just doesn’t have it this year – yet. Five games started, three loses, and no wins to show for it this season, Stroman is sporting a pretty damn bad ERA: 8:88. Maybe an Eric Lindros fan but more likely just an under performing pitcher, Stroman brings the heat on himself in this situation constantly talking about himself on social media. I’m not condemning the use of social media for athletes, I actually love it, but there is an expectation when you’re on it constantly talking yourself up – walk the walk, now Stroman.

I do think he’ll get it figured out, he’s simply too good not to, but the longer he takes to get his head on straight, the longer the Jays will have to wait to take another step forward.

For positives, the Blue Jays have a legit Cy Young contender on the team (so far this season, obviously). J.A. Happ, maybe the quietest player on the Jay’s roster has, quietly (how apropos) strung together ELITE numbers this year. 4-1 in 6 games started, 3.50 ERA, 12.5 strike outs/nine innings, 1.028 WHIP, and a total of 50 strike outs. Happ is pulling his weight in the rotation and setting a terrific example of veteran talent making an impact.

To go along with team resiliency, the Blue Jays have plugged players in for injured or under performing starters and had really positive results. Donaldson on the DL, Grichuk on the DL, Travis demoted to the minors, Gift Ngope not earning his spot on the bench, all have been mitigated by squad players stepping up and producing.

The infield is comfortably being patrolled by Smoak a stalwart and everyday first baseman, 2nd base covered by rookie call up Lourdes Gurriel jr. who is comfortably settling in the big leagues, Aledmys Diaz playing almost everyday at SS, Yangervis Solarte being a productive and serviceable 3rd baseman, while Teoscar Hernandez, another young call, up has cemented himself on the big league club.

They Jay’s aren’t bad – a point I will continue to stress as long as they keep proving me right. I never thought they would be, but I did think that they would have had to rely on three players to have big season: Travis to reestablish himself after injury layoff, Donaldson to prove himself in a contract year, and Grichuk to prove the Cardinals wrong for moving on from him. All three have been bad, or injured… or both, and yet, the Jays keep producing.

Until they stop acting like they’ve been here before, the Blue Jays are ready to continue shocking the league – the most recent lesson they have learned is the importance of resilience, and at the poor old expense of the Twins, too!

 

Jays Lose First Series Of The Season

The bubble has popped, the bandwagon is losing members, and the season is over – The Toronto Blue Jays have lost their first series of the season.

Wait. Its just April, and its still five full series that they hadn’t lost. Things are actually pretty damn good in Blue Jays land right now, and the problems they have should be reasonable enough to over come!

The Jays had two issue that rared their head in this second four game series against the Yankees, one a surprise and the other a condition of their random offence: starting pitching, and men left on base.

As far as pitching goes, Toronto is missing a big piece of the puzzle which is Marcus Stroman. Yet to win a game this season, Stroman is taking a lot of heat for being more focused on his personal brand over his pitching abilities. Sure, height doesn’t measure heart, but earned runs will kill a starting pitchers confidence – and Stroman is leading the team in earned runs and has posted a 8.55 ERA.

He looked better in his last start but ‘looked better’ isn’t providing results for the Jays. Stroman is the ultimate competitor and wants to be winning baseball games, but until he starts doing that he isn’t going to be playing on a playoff contending team.

Outside of Stroman, Estrada has been a concern. He has a 5.32 era and has the narrative of nagging back issues constantly being brought up. He has been saved in his win/loss record by late game pushes by his teams offence, but hasn’t given his team a chance to win on a regular basis. Biagini was solid in his spot start and provides the Jays an option if Estrada’s back issues flair up, but a good Marco is better than a good Biagini.

As far as offence goes, Toronto has nothing to complain about from their team. No one really thought they would be playing for much this season, but now it seems like the Jays want to make it to the post season. The biggest issue that should get rectified sooner rather than later is men left on base. The Jays rank 6th in men left on base with a per-game average of 6.76. In their last three games against the Yankees this bloated to 7.67.

It’s an issue that has seemed to follow the Jay’s around in recent years. It was a symptom of the home run dependent offence they had relied on for so long. That is why I am not too too concerned about it at this point. The home runs will still come, but the success Toronto has had this season was around getting on base, and getting clutch hits. Not to mention taking walks, stealing bases, and moving runners forward. To remedy the men left on base stick to what you know – hard hit balls and not trying to push everything out of the stadium. Capitalize on the damn shift, too!

Two big ole’ bright spots are Teoscar Hernandez (yes, still), and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Teoscar has improved his HR count to three in just eight games this season, and has 10 RBIs. He is really really potent right now for the Blue Jays and adds pop to the #2 spot in the order with Donaldson out. No chance he gets sent down when Donaldson gets back off the DL – looking at you Randal Grichuk.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a name few are too familiar with is the brother of the Gurriel in Houston who just won the World Series. The 24-year old infielder from Cuba was nestled right behind Vlad jr. and Bo Bichette on Toronto’s farm system rankings and got the call up in game two of this series. Hitting in the nine spot, Gurriel nabbed two hits and three RBIs in his first game. He is hitting .273 avg in eleven appearances. Yet another bright spot in the youth department for Toronto.

Almost a month into the season Toronto sits second in the AL East with a 13-6 record, 1.5 games up on the Yankees. With some stable performances Toronto can absolutely continue on this track of possible post season success!

 

Another Series Gone, Another Series Won By The Blue Jays

In just 29 hours the Toronto Blue Jays played a three game series with the Kansas City Royals this week. With their weekend and Monday action postponed due to weather and piercing ice the Blue Jays remained well rested and stole the series away from the floundering Royals. Runs scored was heavily in favour of the Blue Jays 31-12 which was the result of two double digit blow outs.

The Jays are getting the job done in all ways right now; here are a few key players in this series.

Teoscar Hernandez

4-6 with 6 RBIs in an afternoons work isn’t too bad for the promising 25 year old prospect, but that was just the cap on the strong start to his season for the Jays. In four games played (KC series and one game in Cleveland) Hernandez has hit .421 avg., has 6 RBI, with a .450 OBP and five extra base hits. He also has one walk and stolen base a piece.

Hernandez, acquired last season in a deadline deal with the Houston Astros for pitcher Francisco Liriano, has made that deal a win-win for both teams. Houston and Liriano get the World Series and Toronto look to have a legitimate outfielder who can hit in the top half of their line up.

While limited, Teoscar’s numbers this season are supported by his play to end out 2017 when he was called up. In 26 games he it .261 avg. with 8 home runs and 20 RBIs. Hernandez is showing that he can contribute on a big league level and his defence adds another element to the team as well.

The question now is what do Toronto do with him when Morales and Donaldson are back from DL stints? Hernandez is playing himself into a regular position on the team and is showing that the he has out grown the minor leagues. With Pearce, Granderson, and Grichuk all outfield options realistically this puts pressure on Morales to produce once he is back, and on Grichuk to get his bat straightened out. Regardless, Hernandez is a totally exciting piece the Jays have clicking right now and he should continue to impress given the chance.

Yangervis Solarte

The guys is a likeable character. I may even be writing that he is a positive influence on the team if all he contributed was some salsa dancing to celebrate Blue Jays home runs! Besides his celebrations Solarte has been consistent for the Blue Jays and repaying them for the game time he’s been getting.

To start the season so far he is just shy of .300 avg. hitting .296. To go along with that average Solarte has nine RBIs and seven extra base hits. What is really impressive about him is his patience at the plate. Hitting mostly from the cleanup spot in the line up, Solarte has drawn eleven walks, just one behind team leader Justin Smoak. Not selfishly hacking away with men on base, or looking to splash big regardless of the situation, Solarte is showing every bit of his experience in the majors.

Despite his high amount of walks, Solarte can mash, too. An unlikely duo atop the Jays team leaderboard for home runs, Solarte and shortstop starter Aledmys Diaz each share the top spot with four dingers. To go with that bat, Solarte is solid on D as well. In the series finale with the Royals Solarte garnered a rowdy round of applause from the Jays fans after a diving play in the outfield to stop a ball and swing it to first for an impressive out.

He’s got offence, defence, veteran presence, and charisma. This is what the Blue Jays needed in such a transitional season, and Solarte is providing it all for his teammates and fans.

Luke Maile

Colour me surprised with this one, but Luke Maile is clutch! More than that, Maile is consistently hitting in high intensity situations and bringing runs home for the Blue Jays. In the third game of this series with Kansas City, J.A. Happ didn’t have his best stuff and it was the likes of Maile who eventually helped in picking up his pitcher and hitting a long RBI single to the outfield to increase the team lead.

He is hitting .476 avg. in 25 plate appearances this season. In this time he has racked up 8 RBIs, good for third on the team and eclipses his 2017 total of 6! He is taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to him which is not only beneficial for his own stats and the win/loss of the team, but also of his catching battery mate Russell Martin. Martin who has been injury plagued in the last few seasons can breathe a little easier knowing that he isn’t needed for his (at times) big bat in the line up. As well, Maile is a good defensive catcher and has a now two year history with the majority of the pitching staff providing comfort in the thought of him taking over the catcher position if needed.

Maile has been a shock so far for the Jays, but the trust he has from John Gibbons now should prove valuable to his confidence levels at the plate. Toronto is happy to see this likeable guy getting some results for his team.

 

Sure, it was just the Kansas City Royals who after this sweep fall to 3-13 on the season but that shouldn’t discredit Toronto’s success. Good teams beat bad teams, and compete with the elite which is exactly what comes next for the Blue Jays with the New York Yankees up next.

The good news is that despite losing their opening two games to the Yankees, Toronto took the following to for a series split and now are sitting comfortably ahead of the thought-to-be slumbering giants. Even more good news – Aaron Sanchez takes the mound for the series opener in New York. Now is the time the prove the doubters wrong and keep the steak alive. Anyone up for another series win?