The Blue Jays (44-45) enter the All-Star break below .500 and 12.5 games back from the AL East-leading Yankees, both predictable results if not for a surprisingly strong start to the year. Their latest division-related struggles came in losing two of three games at home to the Red Sox this past weekend.
Is Lind coming around?
Coming into the break, Adam Lind’s numbers are going to be an eyesore: .214 average and a .270 OBP. But unlike fellow struggling cornerstone Blue Jay Aaron Hill, who continues to look lost at the plate, Lind seems to be getting it together. He has now hit safely in six straight games, including a three-hit effort in Saturday’s 9-5 win that featured a solo home run and an RBI single. Sure, he won’t be able to salvage any eye-popping numbers over the course of the season, but a strong second half will offer team management some relief as to the long-term future of an asset whom they recently committed to.
Romero looks lost
Just as one of the Jays’ core players begins to turn things around, another’s woes seem to be mounting. There aren’t many players who need the All-Star break more than Ricky Romero, a loser of three straight who has allowed 13 earned runs in back-to-back losses to New York and Boston, lasting just five innings – combined – over the two outings. With his change-up deserting him and too many pitches being left high in the strike zone, Romero will need to use the four-day break to rest up, relax and find the confidence needed to return to ace form. He’ll need all of the four days to move past Friday’s painful 14-3 blowout loss.
Second half returns
A quick peek ahead at the schedule past the All-Star break reveals a 10-game road trip that kicks off in Baltimore and sends the Jays into Kansas City and Detroit. Good thing, then, that the team could get some reinforcements along the way. Travis Snider is tearing up Double-A pitching at New Hampshire and appears ready to return to the big club, while Shaun Marcum threw a pain-free bullpen session on Sunday and could get the call during the series against the Orioles. Even with these two injuries, it has been a remarkably healthy first half for a club accustomed to DL-related setbacks.
Litsch vs. Rcepczynski for the No. 5 spot
So maybe not everyone in the Blue Jays clubhouse in unequivocally thrilled to see Marcum back. The right-hander’s return means that one of Jesse Litsch or Marc Rcepczynski are likely to get bumped from the rotation once the second half resumes. Litsch had the best outing of his short season, scattering three earned runs and four hits over seven innings on Sunday, but still wound up with just a loss and an 0-4 record to show for it. Interestingly enough, though, Rcepczynski was called upon for some relief duty on Saturday, which also could have simply been Cito Gaston looking to get him some additional work.
Some will head home, others will relax around the city and Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista and John Buck will head to Anaheim to participate in the All-Star Game at Angels Stadium on Tuesday. Wells, meanwhile, will be busy tonight as he represents the Jays in the Home Run Derby. As for me, I will have a second-half outlook on the team posted in the coming days.
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Written by Ben Fisher