It was never really going to be a fair fight, but the more the Blue Jays struggle at the plate this season, the more it is clear how ill-equipped they are to compete in the slugger-happy American League East.
It’s been evident at various points this season and the team is struggling in multiple areas right now. But the lack of production at the plate is high on the list.
With third baseman Josh Donaldson still hurt, the designated hitter position a dead zone and Kevin Pillar significantly cooled from his sizzling early start — just to name three — the offence is non-existent on too many nights.
Take away the outlier of the four-game series sweep against the Orioles last week at the Rogers Centre and the lack of production is glaring.
In the five most recent games not including the O’s, the Jays have scored just seven runs and have been shut out twice and held to one run on another occasion.
“It’s the American League East, man. You’ve got to score runs if you want to win games,” said 2017 all star first baseman Justin Smoak, one of the team’s scuffling, frustrated hitters. “That’s the name of the game here.
“I feel like we’re not getting it done, honestly. We’re hitting into a lot of double plays and making quick, easy innings.”
While batting average isn’t the only measure of offence given the preponderance of walks in today’s game, it is still an indicator of trouble. And the Jays team average of .232 is ranked 13th in the AL with only Texas and Baltimore lower.
The Jays run differential now sits at minus-27, glaring in comparison with the Red Sox (plus 103) and Yankees (plus 91.)
While those two teams continue to go bombs away, the Jays bats are getting quieter and quieter, the most recent example being Wednesday’s 1-0 walkoff loss to the Rays in which Toronto starter J.A. Happ pitched a one-hitter over five shutout innings.
In the just completed three-game brooming at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Jays scored four, one and zero runs, including leaving seven runners in scoring position on Wednesday.
In each of the last two games the Jays didn’t manage an extra-base hit the first time they’ve gone consecutive games without one since 2011.
With a day off to ponder those woes it isn’t about to get any easier with a very good Washington Nationals team coming into the Rogers Centre for three. First up is left hander Gio Gonzalez who will take his 6-2 record and 2.65 ERA against a team that has dropped its past 11 starts against lefties. And on Saturday right-hander Max Scherzer (10-2, 2.00) gets the ball.
Smoak knows he’s one of the players that has to pick it up as well. With just one hit in his past 25 at bats and only nine homers after his breakthrough campaign of 38, he’s symptomatic of the Jays’ hitting woes.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” said Smoak. “We just have to keep going out and keep showing up and try to get better.”
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As a high school player, Jordan Groshans is well aware that the journey to big-league baseball is just starting.
That said, the 18-year-old high schooler from Texas feels confidence will be a key to his development with the Jays. Toronto’s first-round pick (12th overall) in this month’s draft signed with the team this week and has already reported to Dunedin where he will play in the Gulf Coast League the rest of the summer.
“I’m really excited to be a Blue Jay and back out on the field,” Groshans said during a conference call on Thursday. “I’m here to make sure I’m getting 10 times better every day.
“I’m a positive kid. I believe that to be successful in baseball and you want to make it to the next level you have to be confident and you have to work hard.”
Though drafted as a shortstop, Groshans said he’s comfortable moving around the infield if the situation arises. And in his short time in Dunedin, he says he’s already had time to talk to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who is recovering from surgery and Donaldson, who visited the team’s facility earlier in the week.
“I talked to them about baseball stuff, whether it’s fielding ground balls or mechanics of my swing,” Groshans said. “They’ve played a big part so far.”
Marcus Stroman’s recovery from shoulder fatigue took a major step forward on Wednesday in his first official outing since being placed on the disabled list back on May 11th.
Stroman was strong in his 4.1 innings of work for the Dunedin Blue Jays facing the minimum in the first two innings and not allowing a hit until the Charlotte Stone Crabs’ Jesus Sanchez hit a two-run homer in the fifth.
Stroman, who is expected to have at least one more rehab start in Dunedin before rejoining the Jays, possibly as early as next week.
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As he continues to recover from his latest injury — this time a strain of his left calf — Donaldson is attempting to keep frustration out of the equation.
“I’m ready to go and ready to get going,” said Donaldson, who, with an expiring $23 million US contract has even more incentive to return and return to form. “I know I can help this team but I can’t think about (rushing back). I’ve got to do what I can to get better and feel better.”
Thursday’s off day was scheduled to be an important one for Donaldson as he planned to run the bases at the Rogers Centre. He came out of that fine, the Jays were pondering sending him to Buffalo for a game or two this weekend to continue his rehab.”
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies