108: Blue Jays have night to forget, but month to remember
Sept. 1, 2015
By Tyler King
Canadian Baseball Network
Even with the Blue Jays 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Monday night, it would be quite shallow to say that August ended on a “sour note”.
This past month was statistically one of the best in franchise history. For fans, it was by far the most enjoyable since 1993.
The Jays posted a 21-6 record and, after starting the month six games back of the division lead, now lead the Yankees by a game and a half.
But despite all their recent success, two things about Monday’s game were a little, shall we say, “different”.
The Jays didn’t hit a home run.
And they didn’t win.
For young Jays fans - whose only World Series memories exist thanks to their dad’s vintage t-shirts - this is their first experience of the true “dog days”. All of the turbulent highs-and-lows (but mostly highs) are just part of the fun that comes with a late-season pennant race.
And with all this winning going on around here, the conclusion of Monday’s game felt somewhat surreal. Each loss is almost unbelievable.
Think about it. When was the last season you felt shocked every time the Jays left men on base?
When Justin Smoak struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, were you not a bit stunned (even though he has 65 strikeouts in 227 at-bats)?
I’m absolutely positive you expected a walk-off home run from Josh Donaldson when he stepped to the plate with two-on in the ninth.
And when he struck out to end the game, were you not more shocked than you would have been had he launched the ball onto Front Street?
This shift in perspective among Jays fans - that is: expecting to win rather than waiting to lose - is not insignificant. It’s telling of a ball club that, while awful for a very long time, has turned things around in an instant.
You’d have to come up with a new word to describe their absolute DOMINATION of opponents since the Trade Deadline.
They’ve lost back-to-back games once in the past 35 days. Since acquiring Troy Tulowitizki, the Jays have lost only one series. Most of them were never even close.
The team scored nine or more runs nine times in August - which is partly why Monday’s game felt so foreign (even though it’s more consistent with the overall decade).
They also averaged more than nine hits per game and 6.3 runs.
The Jays did outhit the Indians 10-8, but managed to score just two runs. It was only the fourth time they’ve scored two or less in all of August -
Consider that the Jays scored 170 runs during the month.
One. Seven. Zero.
The Atlanta Braves have 475 runs ... for their entire season. Which means that in one month the Jays just matched 36% of the Braves total runs for the year.
The Braves are awful, yes, but 170 runs is also 30% (or more) of the total runs for 23 other MLB teams.
One hundred and seventy is the most runs the Jays have scored in a month during this torrid offensive season. It’s actually the most runs by one team in a single month in almost four years - when the Detroit Tigers scored 173 in September of 2011.
Not bad for a team that has typically struggled (“melted down”, “collapsed”, “imploded” - take your pick) in the latter months - at least during their 20 years of mediocrity.
But these Jays appear to be far from mediocre. They hit 49 more home runs in August to bolster their league lead (184). As a team they had a .351 OBP, .487 SLG, and .838 OPS.
Like ... these are real life numbers. Being put up in Major League Baseball. The best league in the world.
What the hell.
It’s made for fun times in the city and at the old SkyDome.
If you’ve tried to buy tickets to a game, you’d know that all those embarrassed Blue Jays fans - who have spent the better part of a decade hiding, usually behind internet message boards - have come back out into the open.
And you know what, who really cares about the whole “bandwagon” thing if it means the ‘Dome is packed again.
In 18 August home games, the Jays saw 675,731 patrons come through the Rogers Centre (*cringe*) gates - an average attendance of 37,540. I’m going to go out on a very short limb and say that’s the best attendance over the span of a month in a long, long time.
They now have the 6th highest average attendance in the AL, and 13th overall - after ranking between 18th and 20th for much of the season.
Win and they will come, that’s what people have been saying for years. The problem with that is there’s so much more to like about this team than just their record.
And there’s no reason to believe that all these good vibes will end anytime soon.
This morning my horoscope even said “better days are headed your way.” With how the Jays are playing, it’s hard to believe what that might look like...
But man would I love to find out.
Follow Tyler and #section108 on twitter: @tylerjoseph108