This one was ugly with a capital Ugh. BOS roughed up RA Dickey for 5 earned runs on 5 hits (3 x 1B; 2B; HR) in the first inning today. Boston’s disciplined, veteran hitters took care of business early. The 5 early runs were all Jon Lester needed. The Red Sox worked on their swings the rest of the day, putting another 8 runs on the board. The offensive star wasn’t hard to choose, as Will Middlebrooks hit 3 HR and a double. He hit another fly ball to the warning track in his bid for 18 total bases for the day. Dave Bush pitched 3 innings of ineffective relief, but Brett Cecil was solid again. It’s worth noting that RP Brett Cecil has 8 Ks in 3.2 IP, while allowing only 1 H and 2 BB.
I’d be surprised if we could find many who would have picked the Jays to be 2-4 after their first half-dozen games. But it’s the way that they’re losing and the teams to which their losing that gives one cause for pause.
Cleveland is no powerhouse—they were two-hit by Matt Moore in their first game after the season-opening series—but they tend to be strong early in the season. Like the Jays they re-tooled: they hired Terry Francona to manage, made a big trade, and signed some high-profile free agents (Michael Bourn; Nick Swisher).
The Red Sox did much the same thing, though their big trade happened in August, 2012 rather than the offseason. New faces include Stephen Drew, Joel Hanrahan, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. Drew is injured, but they have a healthy Middlebrooks and Ellsbury. Hanrahan, Napoli, Middlebrooks, and Ellsbury were particularly effective in the series.
What about the Jays? The big moves have led to big expectations, but the team has fizzled in the first week of the season. They’re struggling mightily in every facet of the game: pitching, defense, and offense. The teams against which they’ve played have injuries. They also have a lot of new faces, from managers to players to coaches. Yet TOR was manhandled by these teams: there are no valid reasons or excuses for the position in which the Jays find themselves.
Offensively, the only players playing well thus far are Jose Reyes and JP Arencibia. Aside from them, there’s very little to commend the rest of the line-up. Making matters worse they aren’t getting on base, which nullifies their increased team speed. Jacoby Ellsbury stole 4 bases in the series, partly because he was on base regularly. The Jays have 3 stolen bases in 6 games as a team, and one of those is by Adam Lind.
The Jays’ starters have been somewhat less than exemplary. The rotation has an ERA of 5.51 and they’ve allowed 52 base runners in 32.2 IP. The staff K/9 is a shiny 9.09, but that’s offset by giving up 10.47 H/9 and 3.86 BB/9. The new guys are really struggling, with a 7.89 ERA and 40 base runners (31 H, 9 BB) in 21.2 IP.
RA Dickey’s value in the AL remains unestablished: in 10.2 IP, he’s allowed 10 ER on 6 BB and 15 H, 4 of which have been HR. Josh Johnson was victimized by a couple Bonifacio errors, but he gave up 9 hits and 2 walks in 6 IP. Mark Buerhle gave up 7 hits and a walk, leading to 6 ER in 5 IP. Brandon Morrow and JA Happ were very good in their first starts.
We’ve highlighted the defensive woes already so we won’t belabour it further, but the Jays need to tighten up and play to their capabilities.
There are a lot of games to play, and John Schuerholtz used to say that the 60-game mark is important for a team to find out what it has and needs. If they need to win 92 games to make the playoffs, they need to go 90-66 (.577) the rest of the way to get there. No one’s going to give it to them; they’ll have to earn it. The Tigers are next. Mercifully, the Jays won’t see either Verlander or Scherzer.