Toronto Blue Jays’ post-season dreams slip-sliding away
Manager John Gibbons can't stop the bleeding.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ post-season dreams are fading fast – just as baseball’s all-important stretch-run approaches. With last night’s loss to the Seattle Mariners, the Jays are just 3-8 in August, a dismal record worsened by the fact that the their rivals for the wild-card spot keep winning.
Long gone are the heady days of May and June when the Jays reeled off a 21-9 record and sat 5 games atop the American League East. ESPN computer pegged their chance of making the post season at 87.2 per cent. Now, after a couple of up-but-mostly-down months, they sit three back in the wild card race, with 40 games to go. And over the course of those months, ESPN’s computer has changed it’s mind: it now feels the Jays only have a 12 per cent chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
On June 1, pitcher Mark Buerhle was 10-1, on pace to win 25 games. Slugger Edwin Encarnacion had set a team record for homers in May, and was forecast to hit 50. Fast forward to mid August, Buerhle now has 11 wins, and the oft-injured Encarnacion sits at 26 homers.
Yes, there’s still plenty of time to recover from this terrible run and the return of several players from the disabled list – Edwin Encarncion especially – should help turn the season around. However, time is slipping away and unless they right the ship soon, the teams prolonged post-season drought will hit 21 years.
Here’s a look at how the August slide has unfolded and the reaction to it by Jays’ players.
Aug. 1: Loss
Houston 3 Toronto 1
Recap: Offense dries up as Jays lose to one of worst teams in American League.
- “I threw two pitches and the next thing you know I give up a home run and a double. I guess it just wasn’t my day today.” – Jays pitcher Aaron Loup
Aug. 2: Loss
Houston beats Toronto 8-2
Recap: Starter R.A. Dickey gives up five runs to low-scoring Astros
- “We haven’t been able to get any outs late in the game coming in from the bullpen at all. We have to tighten that up. “ – Manager John Gibbons
Aug. 3: Loss
Houston beats Toronto 6-1
Recap: Another crushing loss to last-place club
- “I just didn’t have my stuff. I knew it in the first.” – Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman
- “Everybody is tired.” – Manager John Gibbons
Aug. 5: Loss
Baltimore beats Toronto 9-3
Recap: The biggest home series of the millennium gets off to a terrible start as the first-place Orioles club three homers to crush the Jays.
- “With us losing today, it doesn’t mean our season is over.” – Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle.
- “They just hit Mark Buehrle around pretty good,” – Manager John Gibbons
Aug. 6: Win
Toronto beats Baltimore 5-1
Recap: Drew Hutchinson is brilliant over 8 2/3 and the Jays score all their runs off of two-out base hits.
- “I don’t know how it could be much better. Perfect timing because we’ve been struggling a little bit.” – manager John Gibbons.
Aug. 7: Loss
Baltimore beats Jays 2-1
Recap: Despite great pitching, Toronto loses game – and a series they desperately need.
- “That’s a game you normally think you’re going to win. That’s the big leagues. If you’re going to win, you’ve got to beat those guys because they’re all right in it. If you’re good enough, you’ll do it. If you’re not, you won’t. It’s pretty simple.” – Manager John Gibbons
Aug. 8: Loss
Detroit beats Jays 5-4
Recap: This loss hurts more than the others as the Tigers rally in the bottom of the ninth to beat Jays
- “That’s a tough one, no question about it, that’s a tough one.” – Manager John Gibbons
- “This one stung a little bit. They got me tonight.” – Relief pitcher Casey Janssen
- “They all hurt.” – Starting pitcher R.A. Dickey
Aug. 9: Win
Toronto beats Detroit 3-2
Recap: This time it’s the Jays’ turn to manufacture a thrilling comeback, stealing the game with a 10th-inning rally.
- “It was a helluva game.” – Manager John Gibbons.
- “I just had a feeling we were going to pull it out,” – Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman
Aug. 10: Win
Toronto beats Detroit 6-5
Recap: In another barnburning, back and forth, 19-inning marathon (which doubled as the longest game in club history) the Jays steal the series on Jose Bautista’s walk-off single.
- “For all the fans that sat there for all of it, thank you. That was awesome.” – Relief pitcher Chad Jenkins
- “It was a long day today and coming out on top is the only thing that matters. We’re going to have a long, happy flight on the way to Seattle.” – Outfielder Jose Bautista
Aug. 11: Loss
Seattle beats Toronto 11-1
Recap: Any momentum left over from the thrilling Tiger series is lost as Jays get crushed in opener of a series they need to win.
- “Bringing in Brad Mills to finish out the game, that didn’t go so well,” Manager John Gibbon
- “We lost big tonight and I had a hard night.” – Starting pitcher Drew Hutchison
Aug 12: Loss
Seattle beats Toronto 6-3
Recap: Jays can’t muster any clutch hitting as the August slump deepens.
- “It’s just they are doing the things we’re not right now, and we need to turn it around.” – Starting pitcher J.A. Happ
- “Top to bottom the (Seattle) pitching staff – rotation and bullpen – is one of the best in baseball. But we have to score for our staff.” – Manager John Gibbons
Aug 13: Loss
Seattle beats Toronto 2-0
Recap: Jays’ bats remain silent as Seattle completes sweep. This is getting scary.
- “You don’t want to come in and get swept. They shut down our offence, stone-cold.” – Manager John Gibbons
- “We need to take the day off, take a deep breath and go hard the next five games.” – R.A. Dickey