The Toronto Blue Jays are on fire. They've won five in a row, six of their last seven, and are sporting a tremendous 18-10 record since June 22nd.
This is all, of course, happening with less than a week to go before the trade deadline. It's been a frustrating up and down ride this season for fans of the local nine and, in the spirit of the season, let the confusion continue.
With the Jays sitting at 53-51, it's still obvious that we're sellers heading into the deadline. Does that mean I want the Jays to trade anybody? No, not really. Not unless we get an offer that knocks our socks off. Especially not A.J. Burnett. The guy has been pitching his brains out of late. Believe it or not but the oft-injured enigma is tied for fifth in the American League in innings pitched (139), is tied for fourth in wins (11), and leads the junior circuit in strikeouts (139). Burnett is deserving of some serious props.
You all know me, I'm still dreaming of that wild card spot, which is now 6.5 games within our grasp. I know, I know, it's going to be next to impossible, but that doesn't mean I'll stop believing. Without hope, I have nothing. Don't take hope away from me.
So, what to make of this recent stretch of incredible baseball by the Jays? I sure as hell don't know. Even though I'm an emotional wreck throughout the course of the baseball season, I like to think of myself as being part of the "stay-the-coursers" when it comes to the Jays. Never get too high, and never get too low. I'll be honest, I'm pretty high right now, but trying to keep things in check. And by "keep things in check" I mean continually cursing the fact that when the Jays finally, finally, get hot, those God damn mother fucking New York Yankees decide to reel off eight wins in a row.
Was this the Blue Jays team J.P. Ricciardi envisioned he had when the season began? You know, a team that could actually hit? I don't envy being J.P. right now. The team is finally showing signs of life, and he's got to decide whether to trade Burnett, Scott Rolen, David Eckstein, Johnny Mac, maybe B.J. Ryan, and God knows who else. Everyone's tradeable. Well, except Doc. All while calls for his departure are getting louder and louder.
I think we can all agree that we all knew the Jays' horrendous slump at the plate was going to end, sooner or later. It looks like it's finally happened, and that it happened a little too late to save John Gibbons. Has the sleeping giant been awoken? Or is this all a cock tease on a grand scale?
Perhaps Gibbons and co. were the problem. Perhaps Cito Gaston and Gene Tenace are, well, the greatest. Ever. Under Cito, the Jays are 18-12. Six hundred baseball. Yeah, I'll take that.
Perhaps Cito and co. have nothing to do with it, and the Jays finally just awoke from their season long slumber at the plate.
On an aside, here's what I love about Cito (from TSN's game recap):
A big moment for (David Purcey) came in the sixth, when Jose Lopez's two-run shot cut Toronto's lead to 6-3. Two more Mariners reached later in the inning and Gaston came out to the mound but left Purcey in to face Yuniesky Betancourt, who grounded out to end the threat.
Purcey, expecting to be pulled, was ready to hand the ball over and was pleasantly surprised by the confidence Gaston showed in him.
"Normally when I see a manager come out, it means you're done and they're going to go to the bullpen," said Purcey. "He goes, `You want to give me the ball?' I go, `No.' He goes, `OK, go get the next guy.'
That, folks, is why players love to play for Cito Gaston. He's the ultimate player's manager. I think I need to invest in a Gaston jersey.
Anyway, back to the offence. Since play resumed following the all-star break, the Jays have scored a whopping 52 runs in nine games. 52! That's serious business. Fifty-two!
Looking at it from a glass half empty perspective, maybe the recent offensive explosion is due to the fact that the Jays, by the time the weekend comes to an end, will have played seven games in a row against the sultans of suck, the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners.
This is what the Jays do to me. Cause me to argue. With myself. It can't be healthy.
All I know is that it was nice to see Alex Rios hit two round-trippers yesterday afternoon. In the same game! Alex Rios! It felt like Christmas in July. Rios has doubled his home run output in the last week alone.
It should be an interesting few days leading up to the deadline, and a very titillating August. Starting with the Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays on Monday night, the Jays have 18 games against American League East opponents through August. We control our own destiny. The New York Mets proved last season, without a doubt, that no lead is safe.
Go Jays. Let's do the damn thing.