By Matt Antaya / @selfcynic
It hasn’t been an encouraging week for Jays’ fans as the team heads to Cincinnati after being swept by the New York Yankees.
Surprisingly the pitching hasn’t been the focus of our dismay. Unfortunately it’s been the Jays ‘red hot’ offense – let’s just say it’s been less than hot over the past ten games. But that’s not to say the pitching couldn’t (always) be better.
The return of center fielder Colby Rasmus on Wednesday meant the demotion of stand-in Anthony Gose who, though he made strides, still needs to learn how to hit major league pitching. Rasmus will provide more offense than Gose, though it may take him a couple of days to find his swing after nearly a month off with hamstring issues.
After several days of ‘wait and see’, the Jays decided to place reliever Brett Cecil on the 15-day disabled list. Cecil was removed from a game in Baltimore after straining a groin muscle. He pitched an inning on Wednesday in New York, but he was clearly not himself. Though manager John Gibbons claims the injury is not serious, a little break seems warranted.
Meanwhile, Gibbons will continue to play ‘wait and see’ (it’s his favourite game after baseball) with recent injuries to Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie, claiming they should be back to good in a couple days.
The Jays will spend the weekend playing the Reds in Cincinnati. This interleague series should not have been this important to a team sitting atop the AL East. However, with the recent lack of offense, the Jays have made themselves vulnerable to the Yankees, Orioles and Red Sox – all of whom are showing signs of improvement. The Jays will need to play a National League style game and learn to manufacture runs in order to put a halt to their recent losing ways.
Recent trade talks have focused almost exclusively on starting pitching. And indeed, the Jays still need an extra arm in the rotation. But what’s returned to the discussion over the last week is the hole at second base. The Jays left spring training with hopes that young prospect Ryan Goins could shoulder the load, but that quickly proved unrealistic. Several failed experiments later and the Jays are no closer to a solution. Brett Lawrie has adapted nicely when asked to play second base, but that means having to cringe through Juan Francisco’s subpar play at third.
In separate interviews given this week, General Manager Alex Anthopoulos made it clear (in his ever-so-cryptic manner) that the Jays are actively looking for an upgrade to the infield situation. Given Brett Lawrie’s athleticism and flexibility at both second and third base, Anthopoulos will keep an eye for a solid defender at either position who can also provide some offense to the lineup.
Amidst the distraction of infielder talk, let’s not forget that we still need another power-arm in the rotation. Just sayin’.
Buzzword of the Week: Rubber Match
In sports, the term ‘rubber match’ refers to the final, tie-breaking game in a series where two teams are tied. The term appears often in baseball because the schedule provides numerous three-game series throughout the regular season. If Team-A wins the first game and Team-B wins the second game, the third game is called the ‘rubber match’ as it decides who wins the series.
A common misconception about the term ‘rubber match’ is that its name is based on the idea that the win could go either way – much like ‘rubber’, which we all learned as children bends in many directions. In fact, use of the term can be traced to a time before the discovery of material rubber. In 16th century England, the term “rubber” would have referred to something that rubbed a surface clean, like an eraser or cleaning tool. As such, a ‘rubber match’ referred to the tie-breaking match in lawn bowling where a victory would essentially ‘rub out’ your opponent.
So what have you learned?
The Jays haven’t been that great this week, though somehow they still manage to cling to the lead in the AL East. Though things definitely need to change quickly for this to continue. Rasmus is back, Gose is back to AAA-Buffalo, and Cecil will give his broken groin a break. The Jays have added a second baseman to their shopping list, and hopefully Rogers will cough up the money when the time arrives. And coming off a sweep by the Yankees, hopefully the Jays can steal a couple from the Reds this weekend. If each team wins one of Friday and Saturday’s games, then Sunday’s rubber match will decide the series.
We’ll keep our eyes open for a middle infielder (as well as an ace starter) and meet you back here next Friday with a very appealing trade proposition for the best damn (and only) ball club north of the border.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)