Ferguson: Jays have ground to make up after bad April

Scott Ferguson
4/29/2013 11:09:48 AM
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One bad month doesn't necessarily make or break a season. In the Blue Jays case though, with one game remaining in April, one miserable (9-17) month is pushing them right to the brink.

Consider this. John Gibbons' crew heading into Monday's action is nine-and-a-half games out of first place in the A.L. East and six-and-a-half back of Baltimore for the second Wild Card spot. Couple that with the fact that Boston can set a franchise record for the month of April with 19 wins with a victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. The injury-riddled Yankees are 15-9, Baltimore 15-10 and even Tampa Bay is just a game under .500 at 12-13. All four of the aforementioned teams have won seven of their last 10, while the Jays have dropped eight of their last 10.

What does one bad month really mean? Well the Yankees had two months last season where they played .500 ball, but they did not have a single losing month, and won the division with a 95-67 mark. Baltimore had one losing month (13-14) in July and one .500 mark and wound up in a Wild Card position. Tampa Bay had only one losing month at 12-15 in June and two .500 months and missed the post-season.

In the Central, Detroit too only had one month where they lost more than they won going 13-16 in May, but they overtook Chicago late in the season and won the division.

The West was the really interesting division in 2012. The Angels had two losing months including an 8-15 April, but they still managed to finish with an 89-73 record. Unfortunately, they finished four games back of Texas and that other Wild Card position.

Oakland was seven games under .500 by the end of May, but turned it on the rest of the way, going 72-39 including a 19-5 July and a 20-11 September. They eventually overtook the Rangers on the final week to win the A.L West.

The Rangers really had the most unusual season. They alternated good and bad months all season long. In April, June and August, they had a combined record of 55-25. The other three months they were 38-34 and hung on at the end for a Wild Card spot.

In case you were wondering, Cleveland and Houston had the two worst individual months of 2012. The Indians went 5-24 last August and went 18-41 over the final two months, resulting in the ouster of manager Manny Acta.

Houston was even worse. The Astros, still in the National League at that point, went 3-24 in July and 8-46 for July and August combined.

I'm not saying the Blue Jays can't rebound from a horrid start. But in their difficult division, with four other solid clubs and the hole they are already in, the odds are stacking up against them.

I don't know whether this is an omen or what, but R.A. Dickey has already dropped four decisions. According to the Elias Sports people, Dickey has tied the record for most April losses by a reigning Cy Young winner. C.C. Sabathia dropped four games in 2008, Doug Drabek ( Kyle's dad) did the same in 1991, Frank Viola did it in 1989 and Randy Jones in 1977. Viola, by the way, holds the all-time mark, when he dropped his first seven decisions for the Twins in '89.

Eye on the Farm

There are three names we've been keeping an eye on with the Blue Jays new Triple "A" affiliate in Buffalo. Anthony Gose, who could be the Blue Jays centre fielder of the future, kicked his batting average up from .258 to .276 over the weekend. He had one home run and nine runs batted in. He's also walked 14 times against 16 strikeouts and had a .402 OBP. But surprisingly Gose only has three stolen bases and has been caught stealing four times.

Moises Sierra, who played some right field with the Jays late last season, is batting .397 over 63 at bats with one homer, 11 runs batted in, and a .443 on base percentage.

The real story though is 28-year-old journeyman second baseman and Buffalo native Jim Negrych. He's batting an incredible .458 with a .515 on base percentage, two homers and eight runs batted in. Negrych just might be one of those guys who's a little too good for Triple "A", but not quite good enough to make it as a regular in the Majors. Or maybe at 28 he's a late bloomer who could be ready to make the jump.

The Bisons under skipper Marty Brown are, incidently, in first place in the International League's North Division, three games up on Boston's Pawtucket farm club. The Bisons are 10 games over .500 at 16-6.

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