October 2016

2016 End of Season Media Conference Recap

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since we have spoken, and I wish that on Wednesday I would be recapping the Blue Jays first World Series game since 1993, but we will have to wait next year for that.

On October 24, 2016 the Blue Jays held their annual end of season media conference. Every year, the Blue Jays discuss their upcoming plans for the season ahead, and what they plan on doing (contract wise) for free agents.

As you can imagine, Ross Atkins had plenty of things to talk about.

The first thing Atkins mentioned were the status of the biggest free agents in the Blue Jays organization. The Blue Jays plan on extending qualifying offers to both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Atkins shared “I would expect that Bautista is motivated to return, based on everything he’s told us.” This year, the qualifying offer allotment of money will be $17.2 Million. Free agent Michael Saunders’ contract has not been set in stone yet. They have not yet made a decision regarding Saunders, but I assure they be making one come the next few weeks.

Atkins then said that the entire coaching staff will be returning for next season, with the exception of assistant hitting coach Eric Owens. Most people were happy about this, but there will always be some people who disagree (for example, my father). He also shared that him and John Gibbons have been exploring a contract extension. No updates have been provided lately.

The Blue Jays have also discussed the one year, $3 Million team option of Jason Grilli. Atkins said that it was “as near to a no-brainer to pick up” decision, leaving the impression that the Jays will be signing him for next season. He also stated that the bullpen  remains a significant priority to the Blue Jays. We should be hearing news within the next few weeks, if that, regarding Grilli.

Atkins brought up a very interesting option for the Blue Jays during the media conference yesterday. He stated that the Blue Jays are going to talk to Joe Biagini about potentially stretching into a starting role. At this point, Roberto Osuna will be staying in a permanent reliever/closer. “Not going to stretch out Osuna because of how difficult he is to replace and length of time he’s been relieving.” said Atkins.

With the current free agent market, Atkins shared that he would not expect for the Blue Jays to trade any of their main starters (Stroman, Estrada, Sanchez, Happ, Liriano). There is also not much depth for them to pull from in triple A, as appose to last season with Drew Hutchison (who was traded).

A big question asked, any chance the Blue Jays rebuild this offseason? Atkins said: “We’re trying to win. We’re going to continue trying to win.”

Heading over to the Blue Jays affiliate Triple-A Minor League team, the Buffalo Bisons, Atkins said that Dalton Pompey and (catcher) A.J. Himinez, as well as a few relievers could be potential contributors to the 2017 Blue Jays roster. Atkins also said that Rowdy Tellez (23 home runs, .917 OPS in AA) could be in that mix, but the Blue Jays aren’t planning on it next season.

The Blue Jays are also looking for a new back up catcher, and from the sounds of things, it wasn’t clear if he was talking about Navarro or not. “Looking for back-up catcher who can handle our pitching staff, be a leader, give a productive at-bat.”

Atkins ended the media conference regarding the fans. “Home fans and the fact that we travel so well make this a really attractive destination for free agents.” I hope he is right.

“We were relatively successful in building a balanced team, but not good enough.” – Ross Atkins, General Manager – Toronto Blue Jays

A Look at the Season Passed, and a Look into the Future. – ALCS Game 5 Recap 2016

It’s tough to believe that today we were all supposed to be watching ALCS Game 6, but instead we have to wait until March to see our Blue Jays play their next game.

On October 19, 2016 our Toronto Blue Jays played their last game of the 2016 post season.

Marco Estrada pitched one hell of a game. He allowed just 3 runs to score, while only 2 were earned runs (the other run was a result of an error in the outfield from Carrera).

If you would’ve told me that the reason we lost the ALCS was ultimately because of our offence, I would’ve laughed in your face. I would’ve laughed so hard I would’ve cried. I have to wonder that if the 2015 Blue Jays would’ve played against the 2016 Indians, what the outcome would have been. I believe that with this years or last years teams, we could’ve won the series in at least 5 games. But instead, it turned the other way around.

Our Toronto Blue Jays lost 3-0 to the Cleveland Indians in an elimination game. The Cleveland Indians won the series, with a lead of 3-1 and will now be advancing to the World Series starting on Tuesday October 25. That same day, the Cleveland Cavilers (NBA) will be getting their championship rings, just a block away.

I had never given up hope this entire season, whether we were in the amazing days of July/August or the sad days of September. There is no question that we were good enough to make it (and win) to the World Series. I have mixed feelings whether to see we lost to the better team, but there was no question who outplayed who. It seemed like we could never find that “key” hit, and there were plenty of times we could have done that. Joey Bats complains it was because of the “circumstances”, but I’m not so sure about that.

Looking ahead, the picture is not exactly clear. The Toronto Blue Jays have 12 free agents in the organization, and most of them are very key parts of what made this team have back to back ALCS appearances, the first teams to do so since the back to back World Series Championship teams in 1992 and 1993. Obviously, the most commonly known free agents of the group include Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. “Joey Bats” has easily become the face of the Blue Jays organization for the past 8 years, while also being a 6x All Star (2010 – 2015), 2x MLB Home Run leader (2010 – 2011), 2x Hank Aaron Award winner (2010 – 2011) and 3x Silver Slugger Award Winner (2010, 2011, 2014). “Edwin/Eddie” has been a key player to the Blue Jays for the past 8 years as well. He has been a super slugger for them every season, especially this past one where he became the American League 2016 RBI Leader with a total of 127 RBIs, as well as making his third appearance in the All Star Game (2013, 2014, 2016) all playing as a Blue Jay. And because of him, the phrase “Pay the Man!” has been one of the phrases most frequently shouted amongst Blue Jays fans. Among them include players such as, Brett Cecil, who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007, and has been with them ever since. He has been a very crucial member to the ever so steady bullpen, especially being a lefty. Then you have guys like R.A. Dickey and (my personal favourite) Jason Grilli, whose fate of pitching next season is still undecided.

This past season has been my personal favourite. Connecting with all of you on social media really makes my day, while watching the Blue Jays games along with you. The moments in this season I will never forget, and I’m sure you won’t either. The Toronto Blue Jays showed that they really are Canada’s team, and we couldn’t be anymore proud.

I cannot wait for the 2017 season to begin. Just remember, the third time’s the charm.

It’s Just One, Three More to Go. – ALCS Game 4 Recap 2016

The Blue Jays are the 1st team since the 2004 Red Sox to be down 3-0 in LCS and not be swept (9 straight teams down 3-0 had been swept). Can you feel it yet?

On October 18, 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays had their backs against the wall. Down 0-3, it just didn’t feel like this was the team we had watched all season (minus April and September). Going into the ALCS, the Blue Jays felt such a high, but it slowly came crashing down when they lost their first game of October. And sadly, this lead to losing their second, and worst of all third game of October.

With the best pitcher in the American League – Aaron Sanchez – on the mound, there were some high expectations. And, I am very glad to report that those expectations were met.

Starting off the top of the first inning, Sanchez looked super sharp while striking out the first two batters he faced. When the very scary Lindor showed up to bat, Sanchez made him contact the first ball, and it turned into a one pitch/one out kind of thing. This was turning out to be a better start then ALDS Game 3.

The bottom of the first inning was not very exciting for our boys, as Bautista grounded out, Donaldson popped up, Edwin singled, but was stranded when Tulowitzki grounded out.

In the top of the first, Sanchez walked Napoli to start off the inning, and with a fielders choice, Napoli gets out at second but a runner stayed on first. During this inning, I started to realize that the strike zone was a little bit different today, then the past three games in this series. Sanchez seemed to be getting all of the borderline strikes among the bottom of the strike zone. Even though during some points, Kluber threw a very similar pitch but the pitch was called a ball.

The top of the third was a game changing inning for the Blue Jays, still remaining a 0-0 score. The inning started off with a leadoff double, off of the bat of Tyler Naquin. Perez hit a sacrifice bunt, and was out at first base. The infielders knew exactly what their goal was for this inning… with one out and no one on first base to make a double play, they needed to strand the runner on third and have the chance to score the first run. They decided to go with a very important move, called infield in. It focuses on every infielder coming just a few feet in, but enough to get the runner out at home, or even make them not run home at all! With a ground out straight to Ryan Goins, the runner stayed at third base. And ending the inning off with another ground out, the Indians were forced not to strike first, something we haven’t seen in the first three games of the series.

The bottom of the third was an amazing inning, too! The inning started off with two strikeouts, but then the MVP did what he hasn’t been able to do all postseason long. That’s right… Donaldson hits a solo homer and LEAD 1-0. This is the first time that the Indians have trailed, dating back to 56 innings ago in game one of the Cleveland vs. Boston ALDS. Edwin ends the inning with a super deep fly out, which I almost thought was another home run.

The bottom of the fourth was another exciting inning! Tulo walks into a leadoff walk (see what I did there) and so does Martin!! Two on, one out (Saunders strikes out after the two walks) for the current Blue Jays ALCS MVP Carrera, and with a bloop single to center field, Tulo comes in to score! 2-0 Blue Jays! The inning ends a few batters later.

When the inning ended, TBS showed a handmade sign saying, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?” And trust me when I say this, but there really is.

After a walk was issued to Coco Crisp, a wild pitch let him run into scoring position. Sadly, after a Napoli double, Crisp came in to score. With a runner on second and two out, Donaldson makes a GAME WINNING (although it was only the fourth… but still!!) catch to end the inning!

 

In the bottom of the 6th, Tulo hit a ball so hard that it was 2 feet away from a solo homer to leadoff the inning, but it bounced off of the wall. Since the ball was hit so hard, the only result of it was a leadoff single, but hey, that’s better than nothing! Martin then hits an infield single on a fielders choice, therefore Tulo is out at second base. Saunders then singles over both the pitcher and second baseman’s head, but sadly, the runners couldn’t be cashed in so the game remains 2-1.

In the top of the 7th, Gibbons took out Sanchez and replaced him with Cecil. Cecil looked very sharp and clean throughout the seventh. The first batter he faces flies out. Rajai Davis is put in to pinch hit for Chisenhall and he strikes him and the next batter out! Off to the bottom of the 7th inning still 2-1.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Goins starts off with a leadoff single just in time for Jose Bautista! Bautista singles on a throwing error and Goins is safely at third base with no outs!! The reigning MVP steps up to bat, and they decide to intentionally walk him, therefore bringing Encarnacion up at bat with bases loaded and no outs! Donaldson shared in a postgame interview that he was quite surprised that he decided to do that. Cleveland got what they deserved and Edwin shot a double into left field, Goins and Bautista score but Donaldson gets out at third base. The next pitch thrown becomes a passed ball and Encarnacion is on third with one out. Terry Francona – Cleveland Indians manager – decided to take out Brandon Shaw and replaces him with Clevengir. Tulo and Martin strand Edwin on third with back to back ground balls. We head to the top of the 8th leading 4-1!

Grills comes in for Cecil and does exactly what he’s supposed to in the 8th!

Carrera leads off the inning with a triple! That is the first time a Blue Jays player has had back to back triples in a postseason game since Devon White during the 1993 World Series! And we all know what happened that year!! Kevin Pillar hits a sacrifice fly and Carrera scores, 5-1 Blue Jays. And now we head to the top of the ninth!

Osuna comes out to pitch in a non-save situation, but gets the job done with a 1-2-3 inning!!

The Blue Jays come out on top and win a must-win game 4!

Maybe things aren’t really falling apart. They may actually be falling into place.

Alyssa Cohen

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Win or Go Home Time – ALCS Game 3 Recap 2016

Sadly, the series that people thought would be neck and neck is now the farthest it could be from that.

On October 17, 2016, our Toronto Blue Jays played a “must win” game three in the Rogers Centre against the boiling hot Cleveland Indians. Not only are the players on the team hot, so is the team name, but not for the right reasons. The Cleveland Indians name has been compared to the Washington Red Skins name. An Ontario court denied the bid to take on the action of not allowing the Indians name to be shown in Ontario. Had this case been taken on, there was a potential risk of the Blue Jays game not being shown on cable TV, which would have resulted in a lot of upset. For more on this story, click here.

The game started off with a lot of confidence. Marcus Stroman has pitched in a lot of high intensity games (the wild card game and 2015 ALDS game 5), and I truly believe that there was no one that the Blue Jays would rather have had pitching for them during game 3.

The first inning was not a good one for our boys. Stroman starts off the inning with a 5 pitch leadoff walk to the DH Carlos Santana. With a pop up and a strike out on 3 pitches to Lindor, all of the viewers thought that Stroman would get out of the inning nearly untouched. Napoli doubles and scores Santana from first base, and the Indians strike first and take a 1-0 lead to the game. Stroman gets Ramirez to pop up and strands the runner on second base.

Trying to respond to the run, Bautista leads off the inning. Gibbons thought that the Blue Jays could use a good shake and bring back Joey Bats to the number one spot in the lineup. The Blue Jays were 25-15 when the Bautista lead off in the regular season. He starts off the inning with a strike out on a 3-2 count. Again, he strikes out not swinging nor looking at a strike (#Circumstances). Donaldson walks and Edwin pops up. Tulowitzki walks, and the Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer’s day is done, but not for the reason you think. Bauer had an injury a few hours before ALCS game 1 when trying to repair his drone. If you are unaware, Bauer’s favourite past time is when playing with his drone around Progressive Field. When trying to repair it, he ended up slicing his finger with it and needing 10 stitches. Thanks to this, Bauer’s start was moved to game three, instead of his scheduled start in game two.  Fast forward to the first inning of the game, with two on and two out, Bauer is forced to leave game three because of a dripping with blood finger. I’m going to spare all of you the nauseousness of looking at his finger, unlike what TBS did to us! Martin came up to bat and sadly grounded out. Therefore, we couldn’t respond to the run.

In the top of the second things were good, scary, good, scary and then (thankfully) good. To start off the inning, Chisenhall grounded out. On a full count, Stroman gave up another walk on a 3-2 count. Coco Crisp (the runner) stole second base, without Martin even throwing. After a pop up, Martin throws a wild pitch but Stroman gets the runner to strike out to end the inning!

Heading to the bottom of the second, our Blue Jays are still trailing 1-0… but not for long! Michael Saunders leads off the inning with a home run, and just like that we are tied! After Pillar grounds out, Carrera singles to try and get something going, but the inning ended with a double play.

Forwarding to the top of the 4th, Napoli hit a solo home run, and the score was now 2-1 Cleveland.

Now we ask ourselves, where would we be without Carrera? After writing blog post recaps for every single playoff game, I realize that I don’t think there is one game that I haven’t written his name in (spoiler from the future: this trend continues tomorrow) for a key play. Carrera starts off the bottom of the fifth with a lead triple, and we are back in business. With Goins batting next, he flies into a sacrifice out, that scores Carrera and we are tied yet again!

In the top of the sixth inning, Kipnis scores a solo homer and we trail 3-2. But the damage didn’t stop there. Napoli walked, stole and scored on Jose Ramirez’s RBI single. I have to admit that at this point I was sad. Like sitting in my own pile of tears sad. It just looked like we weren’t having any luck, and as I kept saying “This isn’t fair.”

The bottom of the seventh was quite the fiasco. With two on and two out, the MVP is up at bat, bringing the go-ahead run to home plate. On the first pitch, he swung and 9/10 times his play would have been a single, but I guess the baseball god’s did not have our back today, and it ended up completing the inning. I guess it completed the end of the ballgame, too.

Not much happened during the 8th or 9th, other then Navarro hitting a single off of Miller during the bottom of the 9th inning, Navarro being the first batter he faced.

Although many are freaking out, I’m not so sure there is a ton to freak out about. Sure, we are down 0-3, and while Cleveland needs one win to get to the World Series, we need three. When you really think about it, Cleveland’s world is crashing around them, pitching wise. They really only have 1 good starting pitcher (Kluber, whom he will face tomorrow) while all of the others are injured… or shall I say playing with drones (LOL)?. Tomorrow, we have the best starting pitcher in the American League pitching for us, followed by our best playoff pitcher (Marco Estrada, who went 7.2 innings with only one earned run pitching for us in game 5 of the ALCS last year) come game 5, and our most reliable pitcher (JA Happ) pitching game 6 in Cleveland. There is still a massive chance that all depends on one thing, our offence.

Tomorrow, our bats have to come alive, and lets say we come back with a win, there is no doubt in my mind that this series will go all the way to seven games, because that is what our boys do.

Alyssa Cohen

 

 

Off to Toronto. – ALCS Game 2 Recap 2016

To be honest, this game made me sad. This series has just been hard to watch, especially thinking of the amazingness that was the ALDS.

I forgot to make notes, so I don’t exactly remember what happened. What I do know is our Toronto Blue Jays lost 2-1 to the Cleveland Indians, and are now down 0-2 in the ALCS. But, we all remember what happened the last time we were down 0-2 (ALDS 2015)!

So in today’s recap, I thought I would share some of my opinions on how the Blue Jays can advance to the World Series and recap some of the pitching info from the past 2 games. Your regular scheduled recaps will be up on Tuesday (a recap of game 3)!

The first thing the Blue Jays need to do is score runs early. They need to avoid seeing Andrew Miller, as they can’t seem to figure him out. Instead of looking for the fastball down the middle, the Blue Jays need to start getting on base anyway possible. Also known as playing “small ball”. I am definitely not saying that they can’t hit homers, isn’t that what they’re known for?! They just have to try scoring runs in different ways.

Estrada and Happ were amazing in the past two games, each having a quality start, but both getting the loss. Our offence really needs to wake up if we want to take charge of those rings (aka the World Series)!

My father has been saying that the Blue Jays need to shake things up a little bit. One of the Indians key factors has been their speed. Both my father and I agree that in either game 3 or 4, Gibbons should start Pompey. He is a great base runner, and was a key factor in last seasons ALCS. They need to try and roll the dice. We can’t keep worrying about tomorrow, because there may not be one (not literally). We need to try for today.

One more thing I would like to touch on is the “on again, off again Blue Jays bandwagon”. Within the past two games, Blue Jays twitter-sphere has not been a wonderful place to join. If us fans don’t believe in this team, how can we expect them to play as good as we’d like them to? As I predicted, this series is going to be long and hard, but trust me when I say it is not over yet.

Hopefully our Blue Jays can win all three games at home, and travel back to Cleveland with the series lead!

Alyssa Cohen