Despite leading for 23 out of 27 innings, the Toronto Blue Jays left Cleveland this weekend with a pair of tough losses
Fans of the Drew Carey show will instantly recognize the simple yet infectious refrain, “Cleveland rocks, Cleveland rocks!” For the Toronto Blue Jays, however, it might as well be “Cleveland shocks, Cleveland shocks!”
Despite leading for 23 out of 27 innings, the Blue Jays left Cleveland on Sunday with one win to show in three closely fought games. Of course, they could have easily swept the series against the American League Central division-leading Cleveland Indians, but it would have been hard for them to do any worse.
Both losses resulted from the bullpen’s inability to contain Jose Ramirez, who provided the bulk of Cleveland’s offence (three runs, four RBI; two home runs) over the three games.
The first sting came on Friday as Ramirez hit a two-out home run off Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna, which was quickly followed by Tyler Naquin’s inside-the-park walk-off home run. The meltdown from Osuna was unexpected, and he quickly righted things by recording his 28th save of the season in 31 attempts on Saturday.
Unfortunately, Brett Cecil blowing a late 2-1 lead in Sunday’s game was entirely foreseeable and is perhaps the sharpest sting from the whole weekend. Up until that point, Marcus Stroman had pitched effectively; the Blue Jays were five outs away from the series win and Cleveland’s bats showed no signs of life. A two-run blast surrendered by Cecil to Ramirez changed all that.
For the series, the Indians outscored the Blue Jays 11-10.
Although the two loses definitely hurt and the Blue Jays failed to pad their divisional lead over the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, the series wasn’t a complete wash. As I mentioned, the Blue Jays got a strong start from Stroman, which followed a strong start by Francisco Liriano on Friday. The Blue Jays also went toe-to-toe with the Indians in all three games despite missing four regular players on Friday, three regular players on Saturday, and two regular players on Sunday.
With Troy Tulowitzki and John Donaldson both healthy and back in the lineup, and with the impending returns of Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista on the horizon, the Blue Jays may be primed for a strong finish to the season.
We got a glimpse of that this weekend notwithstanding the official results. Now our attention refocuses on Toronto as the Blue Jays play host to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Minnesota Twins over the next six games.
It’s time for some “Toronto rocks, Toronto rocks! (Ontario… Ontario…)”
*Featured Image Credit:S Doyle- JFtC
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As a long-time Jays fan, I’ve invested more time in bad baseball than a sane person would allow. Fortunately, I was finally rewarded with some post-season action last year! This year?