Jays' pitching coach Pete Walker speaks to Stroman Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays Can’t Build on Win but Show Signs of Life


Tuesday, July 8th, the Toronto Blue Jays did something they haven’t done in about a week– win. R.A. Dickey (right) pitched well, which has been happening lately, but yet they fall just a little bit short (or he has one bad inning). He didn’t have that inning in Los Angeles (Anaheim) Tuesday. He pitched seven strong shutout innings, and manager John Gibbons didn’t even leave him in an inning or two too long. To be fair to Gibbons though, Dickey’s knuckleball can look magical one inning, while the next one looks more like he’s serving up batting practice. His performance was exactly what the Jays needed– their number one pitcher to step up and right the sails.

Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Reyes, a superstar who just hasn’t lived up to that billing since being named NL MVP for the Marlins (call it forcing it, call it trying it too hard… same difference), also stepped up on the offensive end. He hit home Munenori Kawasaki, ending the Jays worse-than-dismal 0/25 with runners in scoring position streak. Reyes (below) went a very impressive 4/5 at the plate, with three RBI. That included a two-run home run that finally allows the Jays room to breathe for the first time in seemingly ever.

“We desperately needed that, to tell you the truth” – John Gibbons

The Jays, safe to say in panic mode, look to have made the first step in ending the calamity before the All-Star break… and could even pull out of the nosedive in time to salvage a split of the road trip if they win out.

Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday, the Jays sent phenom Marcus Stroman to the mound… and if he pitches like the way he has been, it seemed like money in the bank. If Jays’ fans had to pick one pitcher to start a game for them today, most knowledgeable people would pick Stroman.

Marcus just did not have it today though, giving up runs in three of the first four innings, totaling six (five earned) in not even four innings work. This deficit appears insurmountable for a Jays team that has grown impotent with the bats of late. They’ve scored two runs or less in five straight (save yesterday’s game).

However, the Jays had a 5-run inning in the fourth. Steve Tolleson and newly acquired Nolan Reimold each had two-run hits.

That’s when Stroman fell apart. He walked a batter, threw a wild pitch, and gave up a home run. This is only the second time in eight starts that Stroman has given up more than two runs.

The Jays regained the lead on a hit by Dioner Navarro. Then came Aaron Loup (right) to pitch. Although he hasn’t given up a home run this season– or even an earned run since mid-June– when he enters a close game, it’s tough for Jays’ fans to be confident (maybe it’s the delivery, I don’t know). With the bad feeling of possible letdown, Loup issued the dreaded lead-off walk to Mike Trout, then fulfilled fears by serving one up for Albert Pujols, the best hitter in the game as of just two years ago.

Loup. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

That ended the game really. The tide had been turned for the last time, and the Jays appeared to lack the life to come back… again.

However, this game does show positives for a Jays team in desperate need for positives. These seven runs tied the most for the Jays since June 23rd; the team showed resilience in coming back two times; Nolan Reimold showed he may be more than just a replacement, hitting his third double in two games and drove in three runs– showing the band-aid has potential to hold; and it appeared the Jays had some fight and some real effort in the past two games. Usually that’s a sign that things are about to turn around… in a good way.

Although they didn’t build on the win with a win, fans hope that they built something productive from the loss. The aforementioned list of positives for the Jays and their fans looks to be measured more in wins then in some gaudy magnifying glass lens.

The Jays go to dreaded Tropicana Field, where they are historically atrocious, and although the Rays have had a down year, they have been winning very lately. Although this is pre-All-Star break, this is still a big series– and could show whether the Jays, depleted no less, are contenders or pretenders in their 2014 playoff aspirations.

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Tags: Aaron Loup Albert Pujols Dioner Navarro John Gibbons Jose Reyes Marcus Stroman Munenori Kawasaki Nolan Reimold R.A. Dickey Steve Tolleson Toronto Blue Jays