Tampa Bay Rays 4, Toronto Blue Jays 3
I moved from Kitchener to Vancouver last August. As such, I hadn't attended a Jays game in nearly a full calendar year before Saturday. I had been to Safeco Field in Seattle, sure, but not to see the Jays and not at Rogers Centre. I was greatly looking forward to it, the first game of a four-games-in-five-days set I'll be doing between now and Wednesday.
And now I remember. Like the ex-boyfriend who returns to a crazy girlfriend after time apart, thinking perhaps she's changed and become normal (and hey, she's still hot!), I expected a great time. I was promised better beer selection, bigger crowds and, of course, a better team.
Well, there are more beers (quibble, if you will, at the quality of said expanded offerings) and over 42 thousand people showed up to annoy me with the wave at key times. There were also glove-wielding adults and fans cheering for the Expos, which I still haven't decided how I feel about, given it was a relatively small effort - I think I could get behind a full Expos Day, but this was not that.
But, as the ex-boyfriend probably suspects in the back of his mind and as all his friends warn him, she's still crazy.
She, here, being the Toronto Blue Jays, who continued their infuriating season by coughing up several chances to jump ahead of the Rays. They eventually fell 4-3 to drop to 45-51 overall, and it took the mid-rotation workhorse to stand up and say what probably should have been realized some time ago.
"Maybe we were overrated. Maybe we aren't as good as we thought we were."
From Sportsnet.ca Now, I don't want to be an alarms over-reactor, especially nearly 100 games into a season that my man DrewGROF deemed over months ago, but if a losing streak out of the All Star Break isn't enough of a death knell to the fanbase's playoff hopes, apparently only Game 162 will be.
Normally, I have a real problem with the Wilner-callers and Stoeten-trollers of the world, throwing up their arms and making ridiculous claims about players and management. And I still do, of course - Munenori Kawasaki is not a replacement option for Brett Lawrie, John Gibbons does not need to be fired, and so on. But I definitely understand the frustration after expectations were set so high.
I'm also a little on tilt because I've got a solid buzz on, my bronie step-brother keeps interrupting me to talk about music I don't care about and yes, frustrating losses seem to have a bit more of a sting in person.
As for the game itself, it was a frustrating one, to be sure.
Most frustrating is the team's insistence on playing Lawrie, a gifted third baseman still uncomfortable at second, at second and Izturis, decent at the keystone but sub-par at the hot corner, at third. It appears the plan is for Lawrie to move to second for the foreseeable future (perhaps because the third base market is more appealing this winter, but more on that next week), but these are the kind of changes that are best suited for the offseason. There's no need for Lawrie to be re-learning how to turn two in games that ostensibly count, and it cost the team at least a run today when Lawrie threw away the double play turn in the third.
But that wasn't the only frustrating thing - aside from a Jose Bautista home run in the third, some solid plate appearances by Adam Lind (three walks), a few nice hits from Jose Reyes and some excellent heads-up base running (Bautista stole third, as did Encarnacion, and Encarnacion technically stole second in the ninth but it was bizarrely ruled defensive indifference despite him being the winning run), there wasn't much. It was about as annoying as that run-on sentence I just used.
But it wouldn't be 2013 Toronto Blue Jays baseball without an extra crotch-kick in the form of hope down the stretch. In the eighth, the Jays loaded the bases with nobody out. Rasmus popped out behind the plate, Izturis took strike three and then J.P. Arencibia struck out swinging. Surprised? Me neither.
In the ninth, the Jays got a huge favour from Mr. Shoot Dem Arrows as he instead Shot Dem Errors, making a bizarre lack of play on an Encarnacion dribbler. That scored a run and put two on with two out. Bautista then stole third, Encarnacion stole second, and Adam Lind lined one into centerfield...right into a glove. Sigh, ballgame.
The Jays left 10 men on base overall but the Rays did, too. The key was that the Jays left five on in the eighth and ninth in the highest leverage situations possible.
Basically, the Jays saw some other girl post on my Facebook between stints together and took a spray paint can to my car. THAT kind of crazy. THAT kind of frustrating.