A Beautiful Weekend

When last I wrote, the Jays were heading into what was looked at as a pivotal series.  It was May 2nd, and the Jays were starting fresh after taking a series against Tampa Bay.  The Jays were 12-14, which was at the very least reverse of what was expected going into April.  It wouldn't surprise me if most fans were expecting to be 24-2 at the start of May.

The Jays ended up winning that series, but that's where the fun stopped.  After a fantastic opening game against LA, the Jays went on to lose 8 of their next 11 games - including a 5-game losing streak (oh, and there was a bench-clearing brawl in Texas, too).  The sky was falling, and fans were pushing the panic button as if they were waiting for an elevator car that just won't come.  That was a terrible simile, but you didn't pay to read this, did you?

But a trip to Minnesota brought a change to the lineup - Bautista leading off?  What sorcery is this?  But it seemed to work - since May 18th, the Jays have gone 7-3.  At the time of publication (Top of the 9th, vs the Yankees), this brings their record for May to 15-11, two outs away from making it 16-11.

The offense is starting to heat up - there's no questioning that.  The starting pitching faltered a little in the middle of the month, and the bullpen is still terrible.  I even heard talk today of moving Sanchez to the bullpen (please don't do that if we're not bringing a better starter).

But what I wanted to highlight was a fantastic series vs the Red Sox, May 27 - 29.  I was lucky enough to be able to witness the game on May 28th, which was a walk-off 10-9 win.  Why was I lucky?  I didn't get the game Ortiz sat out.  Bautista served his suspension the night before.  I got to see Big Papi hit one over the fence mere feet away, and the Blue Jays still won the game.  I saw a rare (this season anyway) Russel Martin home run.  I saw an absolutely fantastic walk-off single and celebration by Devon Travis.

But I think the best thing I saw?  Bautista's reaction to the fans in front of me who were trying to get his attention.  I was setting in 113 DR so had a great view of both Jose and Mookie Betts.  While the fans in front of me were unsuccessful in getting Mookie's attention, Jose delivered some excellent fan service.  Oh sure, he waved a few times - I'm sure that's not the first time he's done that.  But what I'll remember from Saturday was this one moment in the late stages of the game.

Our section was filled mostly with Jays fans - a few Red Sox fans peppered here and there.  But it was the row of (presumably) drunk fans that were the most vocal; this one fan in particular was calling out Jose to hit a grand slam, constantly and boisterously.  Then, with perfect timing - as per usual Jose Bautista - he turned to our section, and made the most fantastic Jose hand motion I've ever seen and likely not caught on any camera: the drinky drinky motion.

Thank you for a memorable afternoon, Jose.

The Bat, Flipped

I don't think there was a single bigger moment in 2015 than the infamous Bat Flip.  The biggest proof of that is that I can say "bat flip" and you probably know what I'm referring to.  For that reason, I think the series starting tonight vs the Texas Rangers is likely the most anticipated meeting of the year so far - the return of 2015's ALDS opponent to the Rogers Centre.

But the team hosting the series is very different from the one that won the ALDS last year.  Or is it?

While it's only been one month, the 2016 Jays are playing sub-.500 baseball.  For April they went 11-14, scoring 95 runs while allowing 102.  In the 2015 ALDS & ALCS, the Jays had a record of 5-6, scoring 52 runs and allowing 57 runs.  Doing some very rough extrapolating, the 2015 playoff Jays over 25 games would have a record of about 11-14, with 118 Runs For and 130 Runs against.

For those of you doing the math, their actual RF/RA differential this year is -7, and the theoretical 25 game record above is -12.  Pretty similar!

I'm not suggesting that it's time to panic, or pack it in.  At only 26 games into the season, with a 12-14 record, it's far from over.  I have to wonder though...at what point do we accept the team's real record?  Last year, the Jays had a poor first two months - both below .500, and didn't turn it around until June when they went on their first 11-game winning streak of the year.  Even then, July was a losing month.  It wasn't until August when they really took off.

I guess what I'm suggesting here is that you can't assume the Blue Jays are going to continue to be as bad as they are this year, but you also can't assume they're going to be as good as they were at the end of last year.  However, their 2015 playoff record pretty well matches what they put together in April of this year.

I think the Jays need to look at their bullpen options, as that's been the real issue, but it's hard to not want to wait it out a bit longer to see if some of the struggling players (read: the entire team outside of the starting pitching staff) pick up their play and start playing to their potential.