Jack Morris says Jays are best of AL East
* Former Blue Jays right-hander and broadcaster said this week that the Blue Jays were the best team in the American League East. ....
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By Bob Elliott
Jack Morris has the ability to tell a post-season pretender from the real deal.
The Minnesota Twins broadcaster, who has four World Series rings, has seen each team in the American League East.
“This is the best team in the AL East, they’re going to win the division,” Morris said watching the Blue Jays take batting practice at Rogers Centre. “Mind you they have to keep doing what they have been doing and they have to stay healthy, but right now this is the best team.”
We’ve heard people say that about the Blue Jays before ... like in December of 2012.
Or in January of 2013 or even February of 2013.
At this stage of the season? In June? No one has uttered words like that since 1993 ... the last time the Jays were in first place for 21 consecutive days which matches the current run and Morris was in the Jays rotation.
The Twins won Wednesday taking two of three from the first place Blue Jays. Morris saw the Twins earlier play the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays. And take two of three in each series.
“This was in them last year, you know,” said Morris who worked Jays games with Jerry Howarth before returning home to St. Paul.
So, what happened?
“Jose Reyes got hurt, Jose Bautista got hurt, the pitchers struggled at the start,” Morris said. “I didn’t think that their pitchers were ready last year. This year they got their work in, they came out ready. I don’t know of another team in the division that hits well enough or pitches well enough to reel off 20 of 24 the way they did.”
The Twins also took two of three from the Jays at Target Field in Minneapolis in April, including sweeping a doubleheader.
“Coldest day in Minnesota Twins history and the Jays walked something like 19,000 men,” Morris said. “I spent the whole game defending the Jays bullpen on air. The bullpen was their strongest part of the team last year.”
Casey Janssen was charged with a blown save Monday after the Jays failed to turn an game-ending double play, after Kevin Pillar dove for a base hit, didn’t keep the ball in front of him, the ball rolled to the ball and a blooper over the outstretched glove of third baseman Brett Lawrie.
“I saw them play with a real confidence Monday,” Morris said. “And I like that.”
Lead blown. No worry.
“They won in the bottom of the ninth,” said Morris. “They’re a post-season team and I’m going to love being back here in October.”
Meanwhile, another St. Paul, Minn. lad was walking west on Queen’s Quay with his wife the other afternoon when he ran into a familiar face and his wife walking east near Spadina.
“Cito,” said Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.
“Paul,” said Cito Gaston. The two hugged and introduced their wives Destini Molitor and Linda Gaston.
“We had a nice embrace, a talk and it was good to see Cito,” said Molitor, now back as a Twins coach. “As we left he leaned over and said ‘I want to thank you for everything.’”
Molitor explained to his wife as the two walked along how important that final comment was.
“That’s Cito, he was never a guy who was all about me, he looked outside himself,” said Molitor.
Later upstairs arriving to monitor the proceedings with president Paul Beeston, Gaston marvelled at Molitor’s numbers. He had 3,319 career hits and despite being on the disabled list six times between 1980 and 1986.
“If he’d been healthy he might have finished with 4,000 hits,” Gaston said. “I used to look at the stats before a series and maybe over the whole season there was one guy he was 1-for-16 against, the rest he hit anywhere from .295 to .400. He had the most impressive numbers of any hitter we had.”
Gaston said Molitor thanked him too.
Three men with World Series rings from 1993 talking about the good old days.
Is Morris going to be right? Is this a post-season team?
We’ll have a better idea after the Blue Jays return from Camden Yards in Baltimore where they have lost 13 of their past 18 games and Yankees Stadium where they have dropped 17 of 19.