How is it, again, that the Red Sox still seem to have the Blue Jays’ (64-59) number? That certainly didn’t seem to be the case after Friday’s dominant 16-2 win by Toronto. But the rest of the weekend didn’t quite go as smoothly, with Boston earning a 5-4 walk-off win on Saturday and a 5-0 shutout behind a stellar outing by Clay Buchholz on Sunday. The Jays may have won the runs battle (20-12), but it’s the battle in the standings that counts.
Not bad for a guy nobody wanted!
Despite an 0-for-3 day at the plate in Sunday’s series finale (he wasn’t alone on a team that collected just six hits), Lyle Overbay still came out of the series with impressive numbers: 5-for-10, three home runs, nine RBI, four runs and three walks. Yes, this is the same Overbay who, just earlier this month, managed to clear waivers and appeared primed to be traded. Apparently no contender (even first base-needy Boston) had any use for a defensive first baseman and professional hitter who also boasts some pop. The future of the 33-year old remains in question, as the Jays seem ready to allow Overbay to leave via free agency and let Adam Lind take over at first.
Hill’s not out of it yet
There had been some growing optimism of late over the steady improvement Aaron Hill had seen at the plate, allowing for hope that he can return to previous form leading into next season. But Hill’s renaissance seems to have hit another snag, with the second baseman hitless in his past 13 at-bats and coming off a benching in Sunday’s game. ESPN analyst Steve Phillips recently opined that the Jays would be part of a three-team pennant race (with the Yankees and Rays) if Hill and Lind were meeting their offensive expectations this year. While that may have been an exaggeration on Phillips’ part (Toronto remains, after all, a considerable 12.5 games out of first), it points to how critical the two men – and their return to form – are to the team moving forward.
If Buchholz goes on to win the AL Cy Young award at the end of this season (not unimaginable, given his current 15-5 record and AL-best 2.26 ERA), he might want to offer a special thanks to the Blue Jays. He has, after all, particularly victimized his AL East rivals this year, going 3-0 in three starts while amassing a 0.41 ERA (two earned runs in 22.0 innings of work). Shaun Marcum was solid for Toronto on Sunday (three earned runs and four hits over 7.0 innings), but was simply outmatched by Buchholz.
Fisher Cats could shine in play-offs
With the Blue Jays’ shot at a postseason berth heading farther and farther out of reach, it is worth keeping an eye on the Double-A Eastern League, where the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are 18 games above .500 and have secured a play-off spot. They also happen to boast several of the prospects expected to make their way to Toronto in the not-too-distant future. Headlined by blue chipper Kyle Drabek, who leads the team with a 3.12 ERA in 24 starts, the Cats also feature right-hander Zach Stewart, future closer hopeful Trystan Magnuson, prized shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and outfielders Eric Thames, Darin Mastroianni and Adam Loewen.
The Jays return home for a seven-game homestand against the Yankees and Tigers. On Monday, New York will send Ivan Nova to the hill for his major league debut against Brandon Morrow.
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Written by Ben Fisher