Blue Jays Almost Get Jo-Jo'd With 9-0 Lead; Rout Yankees In The End

By Thom Tsang

Firstly, apologies for the lack of updates over the last couple of days – I’ve had no internet access (still don’t), and have been unable to get somewhere to write. With the All-Star break over and regular baseball returning, however, so too will the content to this site.

Now that it’s out of the way – the Blue Jays returned triumphantly to action at the Rogers Centre last night, dispatching the Evil Empire of the AL East in a 16-7 rout. You’d think that with a game like this, there are pretty much only positives to discuss, but this is not so: that’s because the game was actually much closer at one point, thanks to yet another vintage Jo-Jo performance on the mound.

To put it bluntly: Jo-Jo almost blew a 9-0 lead. Seriously, regardless of whether or not it’s the Yankees, that kind of performance is unacceptable at this level, and Jo-Jo’s “stuff” is not playable at the MLB. The Blue Jays offense jumped to a whopping 9-0 lead off Yankees starter Bartolo Colon (whose revival tour is just about finished) before 3 outs was even recorded, and inning by inning, meatball after meatball, there was Jo-Jo throwing at Yankees pitches up and over the plate, slowly allowing a 9-run lead to dissipate until it became just a 2-run lead by the time John Farrell mercifully removed Jo-Jo after 5.1 innings, just barely enough for him to “earn” the win. If there was ever a case to be made against the importance of pitcher wins and losses, a start like this has got to be it.

Reyes allowed 7 runs on 10 hits, while walking 1 and striking out a pair of batters…but does the line really matter here? The point is, and always has been, that Reyes is just not a good pitcher. He doesn’t have good “stuff” – the ball doesn’t come out of his hands with movement, and quite literally, the only improvement he’s made from his slightly-even-more terrible self in Atlanta was that he learned to pound the strike zone. I’m convinced that there is no such thing as calling for a corner with Reyes; he either throws a ball, or it’s up and over the plate for a strike. Just how is this guy still in the Blue Jays rotation? Why does Alex Anthopoulous continue to put Jays fans through this shit show display every 5 days when there are better options with, at the very least, better upside? Batters are hitting .303 against Reyes after 19 starts – it’s time to cut bait. It was time to cut bait a month ago; hell, how he survived the month of April is an amazing feat in itself. I don’t know what Anthopoulous thinks Reyes has done to keep his spot on the team – maybe there’s this crazy idea in his head that the Jays will be able to trade him for anything of value because he’s a lefty. I know I’ve been down on Reyes since the season started: I’m biased as a Braves follower – but seriously, it’s time to let go. I don’t know if I can watch him try to luckbox his way out of not giving up 5-7 runs every start anymore. It’s time to let go. I feel like a broken record – maybe I should just try to purposely not talk about Reyes anymore?

On the plus side, the Blue Jays offense absolutely came out to play last night, demolishing just about every Yankees pitcher they saw, starting with a bat-around-the-order 9 run 1st against Bartolo Colon and Luis Ayala. To be fair, Colon only allowed 3 earned runs (6 runs came with 2 outs after 3B Eduardo Nunez made an error on what would have been an inning-ending play); but really, the Jays hammered him for 8 run on 6 hits, led by Eric Thames, who had 2 hits, including a 2 RBI ground-rule double with the bases loaded in his 2nd at bat during the inning to finally chase Colon from the game. Granted, the Jays got a little bit of luck, with Rajai Davis and Yunel Escobar both hitting little dribblers to third that Colon had no chance of getting to, but when you score 9 runs in an inning, it’s mostly because the opposition was terrible.

In all, the Jays knocked in 16 runs on 20 hits – only JPA, Davis and Bautista did not record multiple hits on the day, and had Bautista not hurt himself in the 4th inning (more or that later), I’m sure we’d have only 2. In a game like this, it’s hard to say if anyone “led” the offense, but I’ll go with Eric Thames, who went 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs. The rookie has been surprisingly effective since his call-up, especially considering his swing-happy profile. His .408 BABIP suggests that he’s at least a little bit lucky, but he has done a good job of squaring up to pitches and hitting everything hard in his 108 PAs thus far. I’m interested to see how he responds when he goes through his first real rough patch in the big leagues, but obviously it would be great for him to carry this performance onwards.

While Thames put on a solid performance batting 2nd, you also can’t really ignore the performances from Edwin Encarnacion (3-for-4, 3 RBIs) and Travis Snider (3-for-5, 2 RBIs). The Blue Jays line was a feast of numbers last night, and we scored against every pitcher the Yankees sent on the mound. Amazingly, none of it was done with the long ball. Jo-Jo Reyes gave up the only homers last night (surprise!), with a pair going to Andruw Jones, but even as the Yankees pulled the game to 9-7 in the 6th, the Jay bullpen didn’t buckle under the prospect of blowing a massive lead, and the offense just kept coming. Perez, Camp and Francisco all did their jobs, with Francisco getting the much needed 9-run save to boost his confidence (and trade value) after the team officially named Jon Rauch the closer yesterday.

Having gotten off to a good post-break start, the Jays will try to keep the ball rolling against the Yankees tonight, with Brandon Morrow taking on Freddy Garcia.

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