Inching towards mediocrity.


We coulda been a contender…!

Well.

For a team that’s officially out of contention for any spot in this years playoffs, the Toronto Blue Jays (59-70) certainly looked like contenders last night. The perpetually slumping offense, which has more or less crippled the Jays in the past few months, came alive last night in Arlington – and in a big way. Unfortunately, there always seems to be something amiss with the team, and last night was no exception.

For much of the season, the Jays would enter games with only one thing working for them. On some nights, the pitching would be on fire, the bats quiet. On others, the opposite would take effect, and the offense would be ripping it up, while the pitching staff would be struggling. The outcome, however, remained the same: a big ol’ loss.

Recently, this formula has changed, but not for the better. In the past month or so, both sides of the equation have faltered; the bats have been seemingly silenced for good, and even the ever reliable Roy Halladay (13-8) has struggled on the mound.

Now, the pitching thing I can understand. A series of injuries, ranging from the mundane to the truly bizarre (big toe, Scott Downs? Really?) has crippled the Jays usual starting lineup. If I didn’t know any better, I would assume some form of Gypsy curse was responsible. Whatever the case, the bullpen has had to rely on a lineup of mostly rookie pitchers, who have never thrown in a Major League game. Surprisingly, most have fared pretty well. Not so surprisingly, as we leave August and now enter September, most of them are beginning to falter. And, to add insult to injury, these Young Guns (obligatory Emilio Estevez reference) have forced the more experienced members of the bullpen (and especially Roy Halladay) to shoulder more of the weight. Halladay has thrown a number of complete games this season, and that, combined with the July trade talk head games, have taken it’s toll on the Doc.

I have just noticed, by the way, that I have some how gotten way off track from where I began this post. REEL IT IN, GALASSO.

Who knew you could babble in text?

Anywho, as I was saying:

Last nights game started off swimmingly for Toronto, with the offense leading them to a splendid 11-0 lead against the Texas Rangers. The Rangers, unlike the Jays, ARE a contending team this year for the hallowed halls of October baseball. For whatever reason, though, the Jays have been playing really well against the Rangers all season. And last night was no exception.

Adam Lind, the hero of the game, managed his first ever career grand slam – and managed to bat in four more RBIs in the ninth inning – leading off the inning with a solo shot, and then returning to close the inning with a bases-loaded clearing double. Those eight RBIs were just one short of the team record of nine, a record that’s stood since 1977. Not to shabby, that.

And, not to be outdone, catcher Rod Barajas added two homers of his own – a three run shot in the first inning, and another solo jack in the fifth.

Rookie Brett Cecil (6-3) kept the Rangers at bay for four solid innings of pitching, before seemingly collapsing in the bottom of the 5th, allowing seven runs to cut the Jays lead down to 11-7.

What followed was an epic slugfest between two teams – one who was desperately vying for the AL wild card spot, and another who was desperately trying to finish the season (hopefully) above .500.

The Jays stormed back in the ninth inning, with Lind’s aforementioned homerun and bases clearing double, as well as RBIs from John McDonald and Vernon Wells (who’s triple early in the game, and possible game-saving catch in the seventh inning brought back glorious memories of just what he’s capable of.)

All in all, an 18-10 win was a big boost for the Blue Jays morale, as well as the morale of their disillusioned fanbase. It was also a helluva way to start a four game series agains the Rangers in Arlington. If the Jays can keep their bats hot for the rest of the series, and (fingers crossed!) again against the Yankees later this week in Toronto, they may be able to at least finish an otherwise disappointing season reasonably strong.

The ship may be sinking, but with players like Lind, Barajas, Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill, at least we’re slowly getting a little bit closer to shore. We’re gonna get wet, but at least we won’t drown.

GalassOUT.

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