TORONTO, Ont. – For the second straight game, the Toronto Blue Jays made things very interesting in the bottom of the ninth but ultimately fell short. And now that the major leagues’ hottest team has left town, it’s time for the National League’s hottest to come to town.
Here are three things that stood out to me about the latest Blue Jays loss:
SPITTING THE BIT
The Blue Jays had four days to kick back, relax and recharge their batteries after a thoroughly disappointing first half so they could come back strong and ready to start playing the way they’re allegedly capable, which is something they had to do in order to begin chipping away at the deficit they’d spent most of the first half creating.
The fact they were beginning the unofficial second half of the season with a ten-game homestand was supposed to help them get a leg up in that pursuit.
And they did get out of the gate like gangbusters, running out to a three-run lead on the Rays three innings into their series opener thanks to home runs by Edwin Encarnacion, J.P. Arencibia and Jose Bautista.
But they managed just two hits after that third inning as the Rays came back to win that game. In fact, the Blue Jays scored as many runs in the next 23 innings in as they scored in the first three on the way to being swept.
It wasn’t as though they didn’t have their chances. After that three-run third inning Friday night, the Blue Jays had just ONE hit with runners in scoring position for the rest of the series, in 20 at-bats, until Jose Reyes’ two-run double in the bottom of the ninth.
They were 0-for-3 after that.
ON ANOTHER LEVEL
Prior to the game, the Blue Jays honoured their greatest-ever hitter, Carlos Delgado, placing his name on the Rogers Centre Level of Excellence alongside former players Roberto Alomar, George Bell, Joe Carter and Tony Fernandez as well as Paul Beeston, Pat Gillick, Cito Gaston and Tom Cheek.
Delgado came along at the wrong time, but was a sensational player, topping the Blue Jays’ all-time list in runs, doubles, home runs, extra-base hits, RBIs, total bases, times hit by pitch, intentional walks, slugging percentage and OPS.
He’s second all-time in on-base percentage – three points behind John Olerud – sacrifice flies, games played and third on the hit list behind Tony Fernandez and Vernon Wells.
Delgado has a World Series ring, having been a September call-up as a 21-year-old in 1993 and getting two plate appearances, but he was the face of the franchise for the years in which they were never quite good enough. That doesn’t take anything away from his contributions, the standout season being an utterly ridiculous 2000 season in which he hit .344/.470/.664. That’s not a typo.
Delgado was one of those special hitters who don’t come along very often and, with all due respect to the men who he has just joined on the Level of Excellence (and to Jose Bautista), the Blue Jays have never had anyone like him before or since.
PLEASE HELP AND WIN A PRIZE
Tragedy struck a couple of members of The BlueJaysTalk family last week, and two good people need our help.
Ryan Walsh, who was my producer for three years before hitting the big-time (he now produces Bob McCown on Prime Time Sports) and his fiancée Kayla Harris, who often serves as our intrepid reporter here at Rogers Centre, covering the Blue Jays’ clubhouse after the game, are in dire straits after fire destroyed their home last week.
The worst part of it is that their dog, Billy, was trapped in the condo at the time of the fire and sustained some very serious injuries to his lungs. He’s only recently been able to start breathing on his own.
A fund has been set up for donations and if you can, please do what you can to help. You can make a donation at here. Any help would be appreciated greatly.
In order to help out, the Buffalo Bisons are offering a prize, as well! Anyone who makes a donation of $50 or more to the "The Billy Fund" by this Friday, July 26, will be entered into a draw. The winner will receive two tickets each to two Bisons games, one night’s hotel accommodation in Buffalo, dinner at the Bisons’ restaurant at Coca-Cola Field, two home Bisons caps and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at one of those two games. It’s an incredible prize, and the Bisons’ generosity is very much appreciated.