Things were starting to look encouraging against the Tampa Rays. The Jays took the opener on the heels of a pretty strong start from Brett Cecil. On Saturday, I tuned in intermittently, to find that the game was first scoreless in the 5th, then I later found the Jays were up 3-2 in the 7th. I figured, alright, we have a pretty strong bullpen, right? As long as Frasor is kept out of the mix, we should be set.
Oh how they proved me wrong…
What followed was one of the most disastrous displays of relief pitching that I have seen in a good while. Scott Downs, for reasons unknown brought in to face Evan Longoria, allowed a lead-off single. He then proceeded to walk Carlos Pena who, I would assume, he was brought in to face. Left in against another right-handed hitter, B.J. Upton proceeded to knock in the tying run. Then Casey Janssen, who I thought should have started the inning, came in stumbling. He allows a bunt-single after tripping and falling when he went to play it. A bases-loaded walk, a hit batsman and a two-run single later, and it was Jeremy Accardo’s turn to allow a two-run single of his own.
Obviously this is not a good sign. Given the uncertainty in the rotation, and the pretty respectable resumes that most of the members of our bullpen have, few would have expected the follies of this weekend to rest upon the shoulders of the bullpen. Personally, I question Cito for having Downs face Longoria, but that’s just my opinion. When it comes to pitching, usually the strike-zone is contagious. When one guy can’t throw strikes, it’s hard to come in with a bunch of guys on base, and be expected to completely alter the momentum. Janssen failed to do that, so did Accardo.
On Sunday, it was Frasor who allowed 4 earned runs on 4 hits with a walk in 2/3 of an inning. Nice.
What’s lost in all this is that Ricky Romero was solid once again, allowing only 2 runs on six hits in seven innings, while Brandon Morrow allowed on 2 runs in six innings, surrendering only 3 hits (ignoring the 6 walks he surrendered). Both of these guys deserved to win, but the bullpen imploded this weekend, and the offense when MIA against David Price.
Oh well. It’s not like any of you can lie and say that you expected the Jays to have a plus-.500 record nineteen games into the season, so can we really complain?
Anyway, the real test begins tonight, as the Jays take on the surprisingly-bad Boston Red Sox. The Sox are 8-11, which is actually much better than they were about a week ago. They took four of six games this past week against Baltimore and Texas – real accomplishments, right? (See the Blue Jays). They also were swept in four games by the Rays last weekend, so they’ve had their struggles.
The reason? Could it be because Marco Scutaro has crashed back down to earth and is hitting a mediocre .254? Could it be the fact that Big Papi has a mere four RBI to accompany his single home run? Could it be because the guy with the second-most homers on the team right now is 38-year-old Jason Varitek, who has those homers in a mere 23 at-bats and all of which are solo-shots? Or could it be that the only starter on the team with an ERA under 5 is Clay Buchholz?
All of these tell us that this is a stacked roster with a whole lot of under-achievers. It’s only a matter of time before they all break out of this prolonged slump and climb to the top of the division standings.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen in the next few days.
Tonight, the eternally-inconsistent Josh Beckett takes on the over-achieving Dana Eveland to start off the three-game series.