It started out as a day just like any other day. Tuesday, July 28. Nothing special on the horizon.
And then a bunch of crazy, stupid stuff happened. Such is baseball.
The day was ruled by trade rumors and suffocating coverage of the most overblown, tired sports story since Tebow. Then began the evening’s slate of baseball, which included eight matchups between sub-.500 and above-.500 teams. And those woebegone squads won five of the eight.
Not among that group was a meeting between the Phillies and the 50-50 Blue Jays. True, they didn’t have Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup yet, but you would think that the Jays would be all hyped up to play given Monday’s assurance from their front office that, yep, they’re going for it. Alas, they had trouble figuring out Adam Morgan and saw Devon Travis and Jose Bautista leave early due to injury. Travis may need some time off, but the early indication is that Bautista will be OK. Yet that’s a solid jab to the gut of the Toronto faithful — one night after acquiring the best shortstop in baseball over the past decade, your team loses at home to game’s cellar dweller and you see your impressive rookie leadoff hitter and the face of your franchise get injured.
The Phillies, meanwhile, have won nine of 10 games since the All-Star break. Six of those wins have come against .500-or-better clubs. And they are still six games “ahead” of the Brewers and Red Sox for the title of the worst team in MLB.
You had the Rays’ Curt Casali become the first-ever rookie catcher to homer twice in consecutive games. And speaking of catchers (or at least players who used to play catcher and still have the body of a catcher) Evan Gattis — EVAN GATTIS — pushed his 2015 triples total to seven. He had one career triple through more than 200 games entering this season. Gattis is primarily a designated hitter these days. The last DH to triple seven times in a season was Johnny Damon in 2011. But Damon, even at that advanced stage of his career could still run. Gattis eternally lumbers.
For good measure, the last catcher to triple at least seven times in a season was John Wathan in 1980. That was so long ago (how long ago was it?!?!) that it was two years before Julio Franco made his MLB debut.
And finally there was the abomination between the Yankees and the Rangers. The Rangers scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning — and then didn’t get a hit for the rest of the night. By the time Texas had recorded an out in the top of the second inning, they were already trailing, 6-5. The Yankees would go on to score 11 runs in that second inning. which alone saw the hulking duo of Didi Gregorius and Brendan Ryan combine for three doubles, a triple and six RBIs.
By the end of the third inning, the Rangers had used three pitchers, allowed 15 runs and thrown 107 pitches.
At its merciful end, the Yankees had compiled 21 unanswered runs on 19 unanswered hits. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base due to catcher’s interference twice. Outfielder Adam Rosales pitched an inning for the Rangers and although he gave up a long home run to Brett Gardner, he struck out Chris Young looking. Prior to that ninth-inning AB, Young had racked up two doubles and a grand slam.
And, of course, Adam Warren was credited with a save in this 21-5 squeaker.
Thanks a lot, random Tuesday in late July.
Everyone knew the Toronto Blue Jays were going to add a pitcher before the trade deadline. And they did so on Monday night, acquiring 42-year-old LaTroy Hawkins from the Colorado Rockies.
Oh, and as a bonus, they also received the best shortstop in baseball over the past 10 years: Troy Tulowitzki. For Jose Reyes, young reliever Miguel Castro and a couple of prospects.
There are plenty of questions and concerns about the players involved in this deal — which prospects will be sent to Colorado?; can Tulowitzki, with his history of injuries, hold up on the turf?; what’s to become of Reyes? With as much as $66 million due to him over the next three seasons, it’s near impossible to believe the rebuilding Rockies will hold on to an injury-prone 32-year-old with a deteriorating skill set at that price. At this juncture of his career, Reyes is pretty much Erick Aybar with greater name recognition.
But the lingering thought after digesting this trade is … seriously, what about that pitching staff, Toronto?
Just in the past week, the Blue Jays have reportedly shown at least minimal interest in Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Jim Johnson, Mike Fiers, Mat Latos, Dan Haren, David Price, Joakim Soria, basically any San Diego Padres pitcher and Jonathan Papelbon. They were in on Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir and Steve Cishek before each was traded. They reportedly came close to working out a deal for Carlos Carrasco that eventually fell through this past weekend.
All of that, of course, makes too much sense. The Blue Jays’ offense leads Major League Baseball in runs scored by a huge margin. Their 72-run edge over the second-place Yankees is greater than what separates the Yanks from the Cincinnati Reds, who rank 20th in that stat. The Jays are also at the top in slugging percentage and OPS. But their work on the mound leaves much to be desired. The starting rotation, headed by Mark Buehrle, has a 4.38 ERA, a number that is better than only what the Indians, Tigers and Red Sox are putting out there. The bullpen has settled down after being dreadful early on and following a game of ninth-inning musical chairs that saw Toronto go from Brett Cecil to the aforementioned Castro, back to Cecil and then on to Roberto Osuna. Osuna has been pretty good as the closer for the past month, but he’s only 20. The need for a proven power arm in the late innings and a true ace in the rotation is immense.
Troy Tulowitzki, however, can’t pitch. Breaking news, I know.
Barring a trade to cover those pitching blemishes — the likelihood of which will depend on the prospects involved in this one and whom Toronto is willing to trade away — the Blue Jays intend on winning solely by outscoring everyone else. That’s kind of been their modus operandi for the entire season. Monday’s move just hammers that philosophy home like a Tulowitzki liner into the left-center gap.
The Blue Jays currently sit three games out of a wild card spot, but they aren’t going to make the playoffs without at least one notable upgrade to that staff (sorry, LaTroy). But I don’t want to be a total downer. This team is going to play a lot of ugly-fun slugfests, and while I think Devon Travis will end up replacing Reyes in the leadoff spot, how about this lineup just for fun?
(some dude in left field)
Is that something I could interest you in? That top quartet looks like something straight out of an All-Star game. American League East pitchers are finding it hard to sleep tonight.