MacArthur: Home run or bust for struggling Blue Jays

Scott MacArthur
7/4/2014 9:07:15 PM
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OAKLAND – The Blue Jays entered Friday's action the American League club most reliant on the long ball to score runs.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the club struggled offensively during the Fourth of July matinee, a 1-0, 12-inning shutout loss to Oakland during which they had nine hits, including a double and eight singles.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the club struggled offensively (five hits) in a series opening 4-1 loss to ace right-hander Sonny Gray and two Athletics' relievers on Thursday.

Fielding a lineup that included, among the bottom four, Triple-A call ups Brad Glenn, Darin Mastroianni and Munenori Kawasaki, the Blue Jays were shut out for six innings by Oakland left-hander Tommy Milone. Milone allowed only four hits, one of which was a sun-aided popup double by Steve Tolleson in the fifth inning.

The Jays, with 404, ranked third in the American League in runs scored on Friday morning. A full 45-percent, or 182 of those runs, have been scored via the home run.

If the blot that is Mount Davis in centerfield or the sewage backups that twice have rendered the visitor's clubhouse a wasteland of human sewage aren't enough to make Coliseum an unappealing place, it's well-earned reputation as a stadium where home runs go to die should be enough to turn Blue Jays' stomachs.

There are only two other teams in the American League that rely on the home run to score more than 40-percent of their runs. The Baltimore Orioles are percentage points behind the Blue Jays (166 of 369 runs, rounded up to 45-percent) and the Houston Astros are third (138 of 322 runs, 42.9-percent).

By point of comparison, nine AL teams account for between 30 and 38.9-percent of their runs via the home run. Three teams (Minnesota, 26.2-percent; Texas, 25-percent; Kansas City, 24.8-percent) bring up the rear.


Brett Lawrie's critics like to point to his .299 on-base percentage as the main reason for their displeasure with the 24-year-old's season.

Yet, Lawrie's the man who drove the bus on manager John Gibbons' platoons that worked so well in May. Moreover, his right-handed bat is missed as the Jays faced a raft of left-handed pitching last weekend against the White Sox and this weekend against Oakland. The Angels are scheduled to throw two southpaws next week and the Jays expect to see at least one in Tampa Bay next weekend.

"We miss Brett right now," said manager John Gibbons. "Brett's a key guy. He really is. Like I said, I think when he first went down, he adds energy to that room and on the field. Our personalities aren't, we don't have a lot of that. Of course his play on the field makes a huge difference."

Lawrie is out with a fractured right index finger, suffered when he was hit on the hand by a Johnny Cueto pitch on June 22 in Cincinnati. General manager Alex Anthopoulos suggested last week Lawrie could be out through July. The timeframe fits; the injury has a three-to-six week healing period.


Prior to Friday's game, the Blue Jays activated reliever Brett Cecil from the disabled list.

Outfielder Anthony Gose was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.

Cecil pitched to two hitters in the 10th inning, setting down Nick Punto and walking Coco Crisp. He was not involved the in the decision.

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