Ok, so maybe I’m not “the king”, but I have to be at least in your top 150 sports bloggers. So suck on that to that guy in Omaha Nebraska who is 151st, talking non stop about the Cornhuskers and other things of that nature.
Anyway, haven’t done much throughout the summer, but that is about to change. NFL starting up and I’ll have my season preview and picks for week 1 coming out soon. World Cup of Hockey starts shortly after that and while I think the tournament is purely a cash grab and quite a joke, I won’t lie. I’ll still watch. And maybe I’ll do a little preview on that, or else do some follow up’s on a few of the games and the tournament itself. Then of course the NHL will start up, College football gets going this weekend, and basically things are going from zero to sixty in the sports world.
Oh yeah, and the MLB races heat up, essentially beginning tonight.
The AL East is one of only two divisions in MLB right now that is really a race. The Indians, Rangers, Nationals, and Cubs all look as though they have their divisions wrapped up, though a September collapse isn’t unusual. The Jays finally bought themselves a bit of breathing room this weekend heading into their big series with the O’s in Baltimore. Two up on Boston, three up on the O’s. I believe that to be their biggest lead of the season.
Now the O’s aren’t a big threat right now. That starting staff is dreadful, even more so now that Chris Tillman is on the DL. And they’re coming into this series sitting three games back of the Jays (although two up on the Tigers for the final AL wildcard spot).
While this would not come close to deciding the division, this is a golden opportunity for the Jays to essentially knock the O’s out of the race. The pitching matchups on paper are all in heavy favour of the Jays, with Estrada, Happ and Sanchez opposing Milley, Jimenez and Gallardo.
But that’s what paper says. Of course you need to factor in that Marco Estrada hasn’t been the same guy in his last three starts. Is it his back? Is it the six man rotation? I doubt it’s the man who has been catching him, but I would guess that’ll change now that Dioneer Navarro is back and he was of course Estrada’s catcher last season.
You also need to factor in Yovani Gallardo’s success vs the Jays last season. If you look at the Jays who have faced him 10 or more times, it’s either all or nothing. Bautista and Martin are awful against him, while Donaldson, Encarnacion and Tulowitzki all are hitting over .350 against him. The Gallardo we have seen this season isn’t the Gallardo from years past. He’s been awful. So the good money would be on the Jays knocking him around, but history does have a way of repeating itself.
The Twins series was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Jays. The lineup is now finally healthy both literally and figuratively. Bautista being back, Pillar being back, Travis being back, Donaldson is obviously looking right again, it’s all coming together for the Jays at just the right time.
But this has been a Jekyll and Hyde team of late. Beating up the Twins staff is one thing, but against the Angels they were awful (by the Jays standards). We all know about the extremely high strikeout numbers of late. Yet the next night they’ll get back to crushing the ball. It is possible that a lot of this has been due to the injury problems they’ve had of late, we’ll see.
This isn’t at all like last year. Last year, from July 28th on it was just an incredible ride for Jays fans right up until game 6 of the ALCS. This year, it is looking like a dog fight. The O’s are in it and can pull into a tie with the Jays. The Red Sox are even closer. The Jays get both teams six more times starting tonight. Boston and Baltimore still play each other seven more times.
Buckle up Jays fans. That plea of “let’s just be in it come September” that you cried for years is here. They have a lead, but it isn’t by much, and they haven’t been able to pull away. Enjoy.
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