* Trainers Mike Frostad, left, and George Poulis help Edwin Encarnacion off the field in Oakland ... just one of the moments when the Blue Jays season turned. A picture of the players obtained on deadline day was not available. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians drafted … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
The season is slip-sliding away on the Blue Jays.
Losers of 11 of their last 15, they sit three games over .500 and in third place, both in the American League East (7 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles) and the race for second wild-card spot (4 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers) heading into Monday’s play.
A look at some key pivotal dates where there season’s fortunes headed south heading into the opener of a two-game series Tuesday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
March, 31, Tropicana Field, season opener _ Shortstop Jose Reyes flared a 1-1 pitch to centre, the ball was caught and Reyes was lifted, removed with left hamstring tightness. He didn’t come out for the bottom of the first and Ryan Goins took over. Reyes didn’t play the field until April 19 when the Jays were in Cleveland.
May 2, PNC Park, Pittsburgh _ Brett Lawrie makes his first start at second. The Jays take one of the better defensive players -- “better than George Brett at the same age,” Buck Martinez usually says about Lawrie -- and make him into a platoon player: he plays third against a left-hander and second facing a right-hander with power hitter Juan Francisco taking over at third.
May 3, PNC Stadium, Pittsburgh _ Right-hander Brandon Morrow worked five innings allowing three runs on 11 hits and one walk. The next day Morrow said he felt something pop in his right index finger. At Dunedin, a player looking ahead said “if we can just get 25 starts from Morrow.” He made six starts and has not returned.
May 29, Rogers Centre _ The Jays led 6-5 with two out in the ninth. Kansas City Royals pinch runner Jarrod Dyson was at first when catcher Sal Perez bounced a ball up the middle. Reyes fielded the grounder ... this one was in the books -- “hold the elevator, please” -- when Reyes alligator-armed the throw into the dirt. Dyson scored and the Royals won in extras, ending nine-game Jays winning streak.
June 14, Camden Yards, Baltimore _ Now, it probably happened earlier, but Bud Norris threw Francisco an off speed pitch. Threw him a bunch, striking him out three times and he didn’t see many fastballs in the strike zone after that. At the time he was hitting .246 with 11 homers, 28 RBIs and an .877 OPS with 55 whiffs in 159 plate appearances. The rest of the league got the off speed memo. Since then, Francisco has hit .191 with five homers, 14 RBIs, a .623 OPS and 56 strikeouts in 144 plate appearances.
June 22, Great American Park, Cincinnati _ Lawrie suffers a broken index finger hit by a 92-mph fastball from Johnny Cueto.
July 5, O.Co Colesium, Oakland _ Edwin Encarnacion strains his right quad stretching at first to beat out a double play ball and heads for the disabled list.
July 7, Anaheim _ Adam Lind goes on the DL with a foot injury after playing 17 games after fouling a ball off his foot.
July 31, Rogers Centre, non-waiver trade deadline _ And the Jays add pffffft. Management says it was not because Rogers Communications was stingy with the purse strings. Management says it was not move Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez or Daniel Norris. Other teams say the San Diego Padres asked for Sean Nolin and Francisco for Chase Headley while the Jays asked the Padres to pick up $4 million. Other teams say the Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t ask for Stroman or Sanchez in exchange for Martin Prado. Say the Tampa Bay Rays wanted Stroman and prospects for David Price. Would you make that deal? Tampa Bay only received the best hitting prospect in the minors from Kansas City in Wil Meyers plus Jake Odorizzi, minor leaguers Patrick Leonard and Mike Montgomery for James Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson.
Aug. 5, Rogers Centre _ Lawrie returns after a 37-game absence (broken finger), singles to right off Baltimore’s Norris in the second and was replaced by Danny Valencia in the fourth. Lawrie was placed on the disabled list with back tightness, suffering the injury either jamming on the breaks past first or injuring it in batting practice.
Aug. 8, Rogers Centre _ Working his third straight game, closer Casey Janssen came on to protect a 4-2 lead. He retired one out as J.D Martinez doubled, Nick Castellanos hit a two-run homer and No. 9 hitter Eugenio Suarez went deep for a game winner.
Aug. 11, Rogers Centre _ Down 5-0 to new Tiger David Price, the Jays rallied to force extras scoring on a Reyes single in the ninth, Chad Jenkins pitched six scoreless, including getting Torii Hunter on a 1-2-3 double play to end the 15th. The Jays won on a Jose Bautista walk-off. And then the Jays flew to Seattle ... since playing 19, the Jays are 1-5, while the Tigers are 3-4.
Lind arrived last Tuesday in Seattle and Encarnacion Friday in Chicago. Now, if they can activate Robbie Alomar and Scott Rolen in time for Tuesday’s game ...