I hate to sound over dramatic, but when Mark Buehrle takes the field today, the fate of the Toronto Blue Jays’ entire season could be his to determine.
It’s no secret the Jays have been struggling to find wins these days. They’ve lost three straight series after sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers to open July and could see that trend continue if they lose again to the lowly Texas Rangers today.
On Friday, R.A. Dickey and the Jays’ offence were no match for the Rangers. Adrian Beltre and J.P. Arencibia both took Dickey long while Yu Darvish cruised through 6.2 innings of work before leaving the game with a 5-1 lead, which would stand as the final score.
Fortunately, the Jays responded yesterday beating the Rangers 4-1. Marcus Stroman pitched seven scoreless innings and the Jays finally cobbled some hits together, making contact with the ball 12 times. That’s an encouraging sign since they could only manage seven hits on Friday.
Toronto has a good chance to capture the series win today with Buehrle (10-6) facing off against Nick Tepesch (3-5). Buehrle hasn’t won since June 1st when he beat the Kansas City Royals 4-0 in an absolutely dominant performance. The recent lack of wins, however, isn’t due to Buehrle doing anything wrong or different from earlier in the season when he was winning with regularity. Buehrle’s been fine – the lack of wins rests squarely with the offence, which hasn’t been there for Buehrle (or anyone else for that matter) since early June.
What makes today’s game so important? The Jays need to take advantage of a relatively weak opponent in Texas and build some momentum off Stroman’s solid start yesterday. They also need to keep pace with the American League East leading Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, who sit in second place alongside the Jays.
In truth, every game will be critical for the Jays moving forward. Today, tomorrow, next Thursday: it really doesn’t matter who gets the start or who the Jays are playing against. They need to win and they need to win in bunches.
Buehrle, like Stroman yesterday, gives the Jays an excellent opportunity to win. Will the offence finally help him out?