After a brief upsurge with four straight wins, the Blue Jays stumbled again in New York over the weekend, dropping two games and scoring only two runs total before the series finale was rained out.
This time a year ago, the Blue Jays were 24-19 and a respectable third place in the AL East. The collapse began when they lost three starting pitchers, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Brandon Morrow to injuries in a span of five days in early June. Throw in the struggles of Ricky Romero and the Blue Jays knew early enough that they had no chance at making the postseason.
At the All-Star break, their pitching was ranked 26th in the Majors with a 4.45 ERA, four complete games and six shutouts to go with 16 saves. That was after 86 games.
Right now, they have played 43 games and only Houston has a worse ERA at 5.49 to the Blue Jays 4.81. On top of that the Blue Jays are giving up nearly a run per game more than the team holding down the second Wild Card spot, Detroit which clocks in with a 3.83 earned run average.
Surprisingly the offensive drop-off this season has been even greater. At the All-Star break last season, the Jays had scored 430 runs, third most in the A.L. behind Texas (443) and Boston (432). They had 127 homers and were hitting .254 through 86 games.
Now unless they really take off over the next 43 games, they won't come close to those numbers. At this point John Gibbons' crew has scored 177 runs, has hit 54 homers and is batting .243. I know the injury bug has bitten again, but on paper at the very least, even without Jose Reyes, this year's line-up should be acheiving more than last year's, don't you think?
Red Hot Red Sox
After cooling off dramatically and dropping 10 out of 14, Boston is suddenly hot again, reeling off five straight wins to take over the first Wild Card position and pulling to within a half game of the division-leading Yankees. Even more daunting to the Blue Jays or anyone else chasing them, the Bosox are tied with St. Louis for the best road record in the Majors at 14-7. The Blue Jays on the other hand are 8-14 away from Rogers Centre.
Interesting little historical gem about the Red Sox. Originally they were not supposed to exist in Boston. American League founder Ban Johnson wanted to foster some sort of cordial working relationship with the established National League, and wanted to avoid markets which already had existing franchises in the "Senior Circuit". Since Boston already had the Beaneaters (later the Braves), Johnson was going to place a team in Buffalo. However, when the National League adopted a more confrontational approach towards the American League, all bets were off from Johnson's standpoint, and he put a team in Boston.
They didn't officially become the Red Sox until 1907. That was the year the Beaneaters removed the last vertiges of the colour red from their uniforms. Once that happened, Boston's American League squad grabbed the colour red as their own and the Red Sox were born.
Tampa Bay may have lost David Price to the disabled list, but lefty Matt Moore is more than taking up the slack as the staff ace. Sunday he ran his record to 8-0, pitching seven strong innings in a 3-1 victory over Baltimore. It was Moore's ninth straight win overall setting an all-time Rays record. The 23-year-old southpaw also became the first left-hander to start a season at 8-0 since a 22-year-old lefty by the name of Babe Ruth turned the trick in 1917 at age 22.
The debates rages as to whether Bosox slugger David Ortiz will ever get into the Hall of Fame. Either way you can't take this one away from him. Ortiz had his 38th multi-homer game over the weekend, setting a Boston record in that category. He pulled one ahead of the late great Ted Williams, who had 37.