Musings about the performance of the Toronto Blue Jays

Suddenly the team is struggling to stay in contention for a wild card spot

BY ZACHARY CORMIER

Lacombe Express

So the World Cup of Hockey has been about as full of drama as an average middle school stage play, which is to say not much at all.

Canada, unsurprisingly, has been dominating everyone. Team U.S.A. was the first team eliminated from the tournament after making the bold (and in hindsight rather dumb) decision to try to take on their northern rivals’ stupidly deep team with Ryan Kesler instead of Phil Kessel. Team North America has been a blast to watch, but we knew that would happen.

All in all, the tournament has gone pretty much according to the script that most people saw coming from a mile away, with perhaps the exception of Team Europe being a real contender.

So I’m not going to talk about the WCH. Instead I’d like to talk about a team that I haven’t really touched on in a while the Toronto Blue Jays.

Specifically, what the heck is going on with the Blue Jays right now?

I mean seriously, I look away for one second to focus on Fantasy Football and all of the sudden the sure-fire playoff team is struggling to stay in contention for a wild card spot.

Now I’m about to make the same observation that nearly everyone and their dog, cat and hamster has already made the Jays easily have one of the best batting orders in the entire MLB. There’s just one tiny problem they can’t score runs.

The Jays batters, at this point, are basically like me when I’m playing ‘MLB: The Show’ on my Playstation. Just go for a home run every single time. Don’t worry about hitting for contact or playing small ball because an RBI single is not going to make it into TSN’s highlights of the night.

There’s just one difference between ‘MLB: The Show’ and real life in the video game, I can set the difficulty level to easy so that the pitchers only throw strikes right down the heart of the plate. In real life, as it turns out, things tend to be a little bit trickier because MLB pitchers don’t really like to throw right down the middle.

So instead of a World Series contender, what you end up with is a team who average eight strikeouts per game.

That’s not great.

Then you have the starting rotation which, at the beginning of the year, was great. Surprisingly great, in fact.

Aaron Sanchez has had a Cy Young calibre season, J.A. Happ has a 20-4 record and Marco Estrada returned to the form that he showed at the end of last year.

But September has not been kind to the Jays’ pitchers. Sanchez is now on a reduced workload in order to protect his still-developing arm, Estrada has been pitching with a herniated disk in his back (ouch) and young fireballer Marcus Stroman has really been struggling.

So things aren’t looking so great for Canada’s baseball team.

And with just a couple of series left on the schedule, things are looking pretty dicey for the slumping Blue Jays. At the time of writing, they are four games back of the red-hot Boston Red Sox and just one game up on the Baltimore Orioles for the first wild card spot in the American League.

Do I have a solution for these problems? Not really. The only way that the Jays are going to turn this ship around is if they stop swinging for the fences and start regularly putting balls into the outfield. This is an adjustment that the batters themselves have to make and I, for one, am praying they make it fast.

zcormier@lacombeexpress.com