The Blue Jays’ (75-74) bid to remain above .500 at season’s end was slightly buoyed during their three-game trip to Boston, as they picked up two wins before dropping Sunday’s finale. The series saw two Jays starters hit the 13-win mark, while Jose Bautista moved one home run shy of 50 on the year.
Bautista’s march continues
Those looking to put what Jose Bautista, a baseball journeyman who was acquired by the Jays from the Pirates for a player to be named later, has accomplished this season into context are frequently citing former Oriole Brady Anderson. True, Anderson’s name stands out as being out of place among the 25 players to have enjoyed a 50-home run season, just as Bautista’s will once he goes deep once more this year. But even Anderson had hit at least 21 home runs in a season prior to his breakout 1996 campaign. If and when Bautista hits No. 50, he will have outpaced his previous career-best home run mark by 34. Already a holder of the single season franchise homer total, if Bautista reaches 50, it will make this remarkable, unlikely campaign all the sweeter.
Just win, baby
The significance behind a pitcher’s wins and losses is currently at the forefront of an AL Cy Young debate that likely boils down to Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (12-11, 2.35 ERA) and New York’s C.C. Sabathia (20-6, 3.05 ERA). However, whether or not wins are an all-important stat, it has to be encouraging to Jays’ brass to see solid win totals almost across the board for the team’s rotation. Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil earned their team-best 13th wins against Boston, while Shaun Marcum (12) and Brandon Morrow (10) have accumulated double digit win totals. It marks the first time since 2007 that four Jays pitchers have 10 or more victories, suggesting that each of these men know how to win at the big league level. Now, about that fifth starter…
Yu(nel) da man
Is it still too early to declare a winner in the Jays’ and Braves’ Yunel Escobar-for-Alex Gonzalez mid-season swap? At the risk of being rash, I’d say the deal has officially swayed firmly in Toronto’s favour. Look at the numbers: Escobar is hitting .298 with a .350 OBP since joining the Jays and is just three hits shy of his 62 total during the first half of the season with Atlanta, despite having 63 more at-bats as a Brave. Gonzalez, brought in to add offence to a team gunning for the NL East, has hit .267 in Atlanta with a .321 OBP and just five home runs, well shy of his 17 as a Blue Jay. For those looking to measure this trade over the long term, beware: Gonzalez is 33 and will be a free agent after this season, while Escobar is 27 and remains controllable for at least three more years.
This space has discussed the Jays’ struggles against left-handed pitching before, but another dominant outing by Boston lefty Jon Lester on Sunday demands another look. As a team, the blue birds have hit .213 against lefties, compared to .258 against righties. And those aren’t the most jarring statistical differences: 1,033 hits against righties compared to 228 against lefties, 193 home runs against righties compared to 36 against lefties, 1,901 total bases against righties compared to 391 against lefties. Lester, himself, has owned the Jays to the tune of a 3-1 record with a 2.00 ERA and 22 strikeouts over four starts this year.
The Jays enter the season’s final week, as they welcome to Seattle Mariners to town. Luke French gets the call in Tuesday’s opener for the M’s, while the Jays respond with Marc Rzepcynski.
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Written by Ben Fisher