Something to Get Excited About?

One win is probably not something to get too excited about, but it’s a reason for hope?…maybe…?

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Blue Jays 8, Angels 7

I’m not a night person so I knew all along I wasn’t going to be able to see much of the game: when they’re out west, I rarely do. And given how the Blue Jays have been playing of late, the moment Mike Trout made it four-two in the fifth I stopped trying and let myself go to sleep for good.

Looks like I missed a good one.

So much goodness to revel in really, and that’s what I think the team and their fans can be excused for doing today: revelling. Because while a single win only makes a terrible record a little less terrible, some real signs—maybe ‘hints’ would be the better word—of hope were everywhere last night:

Offence

They actually had some. I said a while back that to win this season the Jays just needed to be average at the plate because of their strength defensively and in the starting rotation. I argued that all they really needed to do was to score four or five runs a game and they would be fine, and lo and behold, over nine innings they scored five runs.

What I find truly hopeful isn’t so much that they got those five runs, but who provided them. Too often this season it’s been the bench players fluking their way into runs while the big bats remained silent. But last night Smoak, Martin and Tulo all got in on the act (with, I would point out, Smoak providing the bulk of the run production). Martin went three for five with a walk and just one strike out (!?), raising his average above the Mendoza line for what seems like the first time this season. Is the box score right? Did that really happen?

Joey Bats

Oh, and José Bautista hit a three run homer in the thirteenth. Wish I’d been awake for that, but the video highlight is still pretty cool.

It’s just one home run, I get it, and on the whole Bautista’s season has been horrific, and, yes, I agree that just one at bat doesn’t change that or necessarily signal any kind of turn around, and I can see that he’s still batting just .131…

But…

In addition to the dinger, Bautista had a hit, took a walk and struck out just twice. Not spectacular, nothing to write home to mom about, but still…

José Bautista had a good night at the plate. If he can start having just a few more of those, then perhaps, just maybe, this season needn’t go completely down the toilet.

Matt Latos wasn’t terrible

He wasn’t spectacular, either, but he was solid…or at least solid enough. Six hits and four runs through five innings against a team with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the lineup is perfectly OK for a sixth starter and there isn’t a team in the majors who wouldn’t be happy with that.

When Fangraphs came out with their rankings of team pitching and had the Jays in the middle of the pack, a lot of people went a bit nuts (yours truly included), but as Andrew Stoeten quite usefully explained, this ranking made sense when one takes into account, as Fangraphs goes, the pitching depth on a team beyond their starting rotation. Yes, the Jays have one of the best starting five in baseball, but after that things get a lot softer; and with Sanchez out for one start, and now Happ looking to miss two, the Jays are going to need to rely on that depth. Latos’ performance last night should provide them with some small sigh of relief, however tentative. If he’d come out and blown spectacularly up…? Eesh.

So all in all, I’d say a win is a win and they’re going to need a lot more of those before the season can start to turn around. But it was a very hopeful win.

But José really should have flipped the bat.

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