Real or not? Blue Jays are finished, nobody hotter than Eric Thames
Facing Chris Sale in an afternoon tilt at Rogers Centre, the Toronto Blue Jays ran out a lineup with Justin Smoak hitting cleanup and Darwin Barney, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the struggling Devon Travis and Ryan Goins filling up the final four spots. It went about as you might expect, as Sale tossed eight scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts. While Kendrys Morales homered off Craig Kimbrel in the ninth to tie the game, the Red Sox scored three runs in the 10th off Jason Grilli to win 4-1.
The Blue Jays are 3-12.
I also believe they're done. The regulars at Tim Hortons might disagree, but I have trouble seeing the Blue Jays digging themselves out of this hole. No team that started 3-12 has made the playoffs in the wild-card era. That alone isn't reason to write them off; three teams that started 4-11 have made the postseason -- the 2000 Giants, 2001 A's and 2007 Phillies -- and 4-11 isn't much different from 3-12.
I see an old team. Seven of the nine regular position players are 30 or older, as are their top bench players. Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin -- while not this bad -- are clearly past their primes.
I see a team with a shaky bullpen. Grilli is 40 years old, and maybe Joe Biagini will supplant him as the top setup guy, but the depth behind closer Roberto Osuna is questionable -- and Osuna started the season on the disabled list.
I see a team that's already hurting. Josh Donaldson is out two to four weeks with his calf injury. J.A. Happ is on the DL with elbow inflammation, and Aaron Sanchez is on the DL with a blister issue. Maybe those are all minor injuries, but the rotation last season barely missed a start, with the top five guys all making at least 29. They only needed seven starters all season, with the seventh guy making just two starts.
I see a team playing in a tough division. The Yankees and Rays might be tougher than last season.
It's worth noting that the Blue Jays got off to a slow start last season too. They were 19-23 on May 18. Like last year, they'll need the rotation to carry them. Maybe it will.
Jays lose...again pic.twitter.com/wQUKepusMg
— Gruber's Mullet (@GrubersMullet) April 20, 2017
The man is hotter than the planet Venus in summertime.
Eric Thames does it again:
— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) April 21, 2017
Eric Thames has eight home runs.
The Red Sox have seven home runs.
— D.J. Short (@djshort) April 21, 2017
The Brewers beat the Cardinals 7-5. After I declared Carlos Martinez a Cy Young contender after his first start, when he allowed no runs and fanned 10 against the Cubs, he's reeled off three consecutive junk outings. DON'T OVERREACT TO ONE START! HOW MANY TIMES HAVE WE TOLD YOU THIS?! The Brewers, meanwhile, are playing some fun baseball and lead the majors with 32 home runs. At 6-10, the Cardinals are off to their worst 16-game start since 1997 (also 6-10). That's how good the Cardinals have been: They don't usually get off to slow starts.
After Jimenez threw 7⅔ scoreless innings for the Orioles on Wednesday, Miley followed it up with another impressive effort against the Reds, matching his career high with 11 strikeouts over eight innings. Baltimore would win 2-1 in 10 innings. The O's are off to a 10-4 start despite little production from Manny Machado (.176, two HRs) and Mark Trumbo (.255, one HR) and, so far, haven't missed closer Zach Britton while he's on the DL.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 21, 2017
James Paxton gives up a run and the world keeps spinning.
The Mariners were feeling good. After that rotten start, they had climbed back to 7-9 and had Paxton going, the guy who hadn't allowed a run in his first three starts. Beat the A's and you're a win away from .500. Instead, this happened:
Aaand Paxton's release point's hosed. Bad game all around.
— Marc W (@USSM_Marc) April 21, 2017
Paxton ended up giving up nine hits in 4⅓ innings, although he ended up with a no-decision (if you care about pitcher wins and losses). His ERA rose to 1.78, which leaves Oakland's Andrew Triggs as the remaining starter with a 0.00 ERA (he's allowed three runs, all unearned).
Quick thoughts ... Good read from USA Today's Bob Nightengale on David Freese's lifelong battle with depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse and how he's changed since leaving the Cardinals, a reminder that players often have stuff going on off the field we don't always know about. ... The A's lead the American League in extra-base hits. ... Good game in Texas as the Rangers beat the Royals 1-0 in 13 innings. Credit to the much-maligned Texas bullpen for seven innings of one-hit relief. It was the sixth victory in franchise history in which the Rangers allowed no runs in 13-plus innings but the first since 1990. Since the franchise began, only the Mets, with eight such wins, have more. ... Because you have to mention Frank Tanana whenever you can: Noah Syndergaard had 10 K's and no walks matching Dwight Gooden with six such games before turning 25. Tanana, Madison Bumgarner, Jose Fernandez and Bert Blyleven had five. ... But Syndergaard lost! Some shaky Mets defense, including a miscommunication at first base between Syndergaard and Neil Walker on a flip from first baseman Jay Bruce, didn't help. ... We mentioned Ryan Zimmerman in Wednesday's roundup and how he's worked on getting more lift in his swing. He homered again in the Nats' 3-2 win over the Braves.