DETROIT, Michigan - After Tuesday's ugly 7-3, series-opening loss to the Tigers, Wednesday's starting pitcher was urging a nervous fanbase back home to remain calm.
"I dealt with it last year, all the expectations," Mark Buehrle told TSN.ca. "That's why I think coming in, I don't want to say I was downplaying it, not making a big deal, but I think this is why. Everybody's got high expectations and then you start off bad and not playing good, then everyone's wanting to jump off a cliff like 'Oh my God, this team sucks.'"
Buehrle was a member of the 2012 Miami Marlins. The team with the brand new stadium in Little Havana and a nightmare-inducing sculpture over the leftfield fence, complete with an array of free agent signings that were supposed to catapult the organization to contender status in the National League East.
While it's likely that Buehrle, or Jose Reyes or Josh Johnson or Emilio Bonifacio, for that matter, haven't concerned themselves with how their current predicament relates to last year's, it's nothing if not striking. Save for the new stadium and hideous sculpture, of course.
In spring training 2012, the Marlins were the darlings of baseball. One year later, it was the Blue Jays. Miami went 2-5 to start last season, going loss-loss-win-loss-win-loss-loss through seven games. The Blue Jays in 2013: ditto. The Marlins lost 93 games last season and were blown up afterward. Toronto: far too early to predict such a fate and foolish to do so.
These are but numbers, interesting talking points for the water cooler and nothing more but Buehrle knows the results need to change and the sooner the better.
"Obviously, we didn't start off the way that we wanted; we're not playing as good as we wanted to," said Buehrle. "If you look at it, we're two-and-a-half or three games out, whatever we are, I mean it's a week in to the season. If you're pushing the panic button already, then we're going to be in trouble or we are in trouble. We're going to have good stretches, we're going to have bad stretches, obviously you want to start off the season with more than what we're doing but it's part of it and you've got to battle."
Seven games in and the Blue Jays have yet to have a starting pitcher throw a baseball in the seventh inning. Opponents have scored seven first-inning runs against the Blue Jays, nine total over the first two innings this season. The starters have combined for a 6.08 ERA after Brandon Morrow got roughed up for five earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday.
"We haven't done a good enough job to go out there and keep our team, I don't want to say in the game but we're out there giving up runs early and we're having to battle back," said Buehrle. "The starting staff's not doing our job of going out there, going deep in to games. We're wearing the bullpen out already. The home runs are there but we've got to do a better job of trying to hold them down to nothing until we get some runs on the board."
The offence will be buoyed by the return of Jose Bautista, who played Tuesday after missing three games with a sprained right ankle. Jose Reyes (.444) and J.P. Arencibia (.296, 3 home runs) are off to strong starts. However, Edwin Encarnacion is hitless in 18 at-bats and just 2-28 (.071) on the season. While the Blue Jays are in a four-way tie for second in the majors with 12 home runs (Colorado's 14 leads the way), they have struggled to piece together lengthy innings that wear down the opposing pitcher.
The infield defence has been porous, particularly at third base. Brett Lawrie, strained ribcage muscle and all, is missed. The Jays' seven errors, one per game, place them in a three-way tie for worst in the majors with the White Sox and Nationals. That doesn't take in to account the plays that should have been made, which don't go for errors, but weren't.
"Yeah, it sucks because we want to be playing better but at the same time, it's part of the game," said Buehrle. "We're going to have losing streaks when we're going to lose and not play good and then you're going to have times when you're going to be winning and it just seems like you can beat anybody. It's just one of those funks we're in right now."
The Blue Jays wouldn't mind if this season reflected that of the 2012 Marlins for one more day.
Miami won its eighth game last year.