Toronto Blue Jays Face Uphill Road Away From Home Without Key Players
The Toronto Blue Jays played the longest game in the history of their franchise on Sunday at Rogers Centre. The contest played into the 19th inning and lasted six hours 37 minutes, with the Jays eventually coming out on top. The cost of winning that night took its toll on Toronto.
The Blue Jays are already banged up, and the depleted lineup never really stood a chance after a lengthy flight to the west coast to face the Seattle Mariners and the AL’s best pitcher, Felix Hernandez.
The Jays’ starter Monday night was Drew Hutchison, who has traditionally been sharper on the road than at home in 2014. It mattered not, because like clockwork, King Felix was again dealing in a class all his own. The Jays are currently without 1B Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Brett Lawrie and DH Adam Lind. When removing them from the lineup card, you take away a collective .281 BA as well as 42 HRs and 135 RBIs.
Before Encarnacion went down with a quadriceps injury leading up to the All-Star break in early July, he was one of the hottest power hitters in all of baseball. Lawrie did his part to hit for power too, but it’s his Gold Glove defense at third base that the Jays miss most. Lind was hitting .320 and is a valuable asset to have in the lineup against right-handed pitching like Hernandez, as he has posted a .369 batting average vs. RHP so far in 2014.
Hernandez has been unfortunate to not have a higher winning percentage with the M’s this season like he deserves. He hasn’t had great run support. He had 12 wins entering Monday’s game in 24 starts, but for a guy poised to win his second AL Cy Young award while sporting an ERA of 1.97 and routinely working out of the seventh inning in ball games, he shouldn’t get stuck with so many no-decisions.
The Jays have been striking out at a higher rate in August than they were in July. Given that Hernandez has a BAA of .100 (second-best in AL) when he faces hitters with two strikes, the odds were stacked against Toronto from the get-go. No Encarnacion. No Lawrie. No Lind. No home field advantage. No day of rest after a brutal turnaround. No solid outing by Hutchison. No chance.
The Jays and Mariners are both battling for an AL Wild Card berth. It goes without say that this is a crucial series for both parties involved. After Monday night’s blowout, Toronto needs to regroup and rest where they can get it. They get Chris Young (10-6) and Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6) on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively before heading to the Windy City for a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox.
It’s a long road trip, and certainly an uphill battle for the wounded blue birds of Canada.