I was sitting in a meeting room trying to wrap up some work late in the work day last November when I checked my phone and saw something that made me do a little fist pump. Finally, I thought, something positive was happening with the ballclub that I've been following. Something exciting that I could look forward to.
Josh Johnson was a great pitcher and had been solid when he was healthy, and the Blue Jays' 2012 rotation descended into a patchwork of replacement pieces due to injuries, and general suckage. Of course, that "deal" mentioned by Jon Morosi did end up becoming bigger, with Alex Anthopoulos greatly bolstering his rotation to try to take a run at the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Johnson has been bad more often than good this year--and when he's been good, he hasn't had any run support. He hasn't looked like the Josh Johnson of old, and the Baltimore Orioles exploited it today, hammering the Jays' starter early.
Johnson allowed a couple of singles to start off the game, but then got Nick Markaikis to fly out on two pitches. The problem is that Adam Jones and Chris Davis were up next in the Orioles' lineup. Jones poked a base hit to the edge of the dirt to score one, then Davis doubled to right to score two. THen J.J. Hardy brought in another with a single. It was 4-0 Orioles at Camden Yards before the grilled swordfish was even cooked all the way through. In the bottom of the third, Johnson walked Jones to bring up the red-hot Chris Davis, who slammed his 37th homer to make it a 6-0 game. Davis has now homered in four-straight games, matching a streak he had back in early April. Adam Jones added another homer for the O's in the bottom of the fifth off Johnson.
Johnson finished his six innings having struck out seven orange birds, but gave up seven runs on seven hits. The last time he gave up seven was on June 23, 2007. With Johnson pitching the way he is right now, I don't see the Blue Jays getting much for him at he trade deadline.
The starter dug a big hole for the offense to climb out of, the bullpen came out and kept the opponent scoreless, and the batters did make it interesting with a comeback bid in the ninth that fell short. If I were smarter, I could just have copied-and-pasted a previous game recap and just changed the names. We've seen this type of game far too often this season.
Toronto outhit Baltimore again, but unfortunately someone decided a long time ago that victories and defeats were decided by runs, not hits.
Maicer Izturis was the offensive player of the game, going 2-for-4, batting in three of the Jays' four runs. Edwin Encarnacion had the other RBI. The Blue Jays made a little run in the ninth, started off with a Colby Rasmus double and an Izturis RBI-single. Brett Lawrie got his first base hit--a single-- since returning from his time on the disabled list to keep his first-half batting average above the Mendoza Line. He was also one of three Blue Jays to not strike out in the game. Unfortunately the rally sizzled as quickly as it started.
With the loss, the Blue Jays have dropped to 45-49 (.484), 11.5 games behind the division-leading Red Sox, and 8 games behind the wild card leaders Rays and Rangers. The Jays are now four games under .500. One of the good things about the Blue Jays is that they have been around .500 going into the All-Star Break pretty much every single season this past decade. We have to go back all the way to 2004 before finding a season where they have had a worse record at the All-Star Break. They were 43-43 in 2012, 45-47 in 2011, 44-45 in 2010, 44-46 in 2009, 47-49 in 2008, 43-44 in 2007, 49-39 in 2006, 44-44 in 2005, and 39-49 in 2004. Optimistically, perhaps we can look to the magical 1989 season: Toronto was sitting at 42-45 at the break and were seven games behind. So there is still some, faint hope.
Jays of the Day! None on the field. But let's give it to all the Blue Jays fans in the crowd.
Suckage Jays: Josh Johnson (-.327). This is his sixth Suckage award in 12 starts.