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Ferguson: Important divisional run begins for Blue Jays

Scott Ferguson
4/19/2013 11:19:04 AM
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While Blue Jays fans and the media alike have been tripping over each other reaching for the panic button over the Blue Jays' 7-9 start, the real meat and potatoes part of their schedule actually starts when the Yankees hit town this weekend. From that point through May 26, John Gibbons and company play 30 out of 35 games against their own division, including the next 13 in a row.

It breaks down like this, 13 at home and 17 away. 10 versus the Yankees, seven against Baltimore, seven versus Tampa Bay and six against John Farrell and the Red Sox. As long as they are hanging around the .500 mark or are slightly above at that point, they should be in pretty good shape.

Though the Yankees have played better than anyone could have imagined with all their injuries, the Red Sox are really the team to watch. Not only are they 11-4 and leading the East, but they get slugger David Ortiz back from his injury rehab stint this weekend, and they're opening a 10-game homestand that includes a four-gamer against the woeful Houston Astros.

The Blue Jays have been bitten a few times already this season by the injury bug, with Brett Lawrie, Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Sergio Santos and now R.A. Dickey maybe with tightness in his neck and upper back, but some of the players they dealt in the off-season are hurting too.

As if things aren't bad enough in Miami, Henderson Alvarez is on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is out with a bruised elbow, and veteran catcher Jeff Mathis is on the disabled list as well with a broken collarbone. So in the short term at least, the Marlins have nothing to show for all the talent they surrendered to the Blue Jays.

Coincidentally, on the day Dickey's neck and back acted up, the Mets announced that the key player they received in the deal for R.A., catcher Travis D'Arnaud, had suffered a broken big left toe and would be out indefinitely. D'Arnaud you'll recall had his season cut short with Las Vegas last year when he tore a knee ligament sliding into second base. This time he took a foul ball off his foot, off an opponent's bat. Now instead of being called up at mid-season as many had predicted, he may not join the Mets until September if at all this season.

Early Returns

The most amazing turnaround so far this season has been that of the Colorado Rockies. A year ago, they were the joke of the National League with just 64 wins, and a pitching staff that was in total disarray. They had a Major League worst 5.22 staff ERA and tied San Diego for the worst fielding percentage in the Majors at .980.

This time around under rookie skipper Walt Weiss, who was coaching his son's high school team a year ago, they are 11-4, and a perfect 6-0 at home, in the still-wintery conditions of Coors Field.

The Rocks only bumped their payroll by about $6 million to $71 million, but they are healthy and hitting the heck out of the ball. They're hitting .297 as a team, with 25 home runs. Colorado is averaging just over six runs per game and they have five players in double digits in runs batted in. Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez is batting .400 with four homers and nine runs batted in. And to think recently, there was much speculation about the Rockies trading Cargo and his hefty contract.

Interleague Ball

That brings us around to the topic of Interleague play which is a season-long event this season. The Jays play 16 of their 20 games against the NL West, interspersed with back-to-back home and home two game sets with Atlanta.

The Blue Jays get four games with the Giants, starting with two at home on May 14-15, three at home with Colorado and three with the Dodgers at Rogers Centre. Then it's two on the road with the Giants, three with San Diego and finally three with Arizona in early September.

The Blue Jays, who have never really done well against the National League, were 9-9 against the Senior Circuit last season. But, the cumulative interleague record of the teams they will be playing this season was only 40-53 last season including Colorado's Major League-worst 2-13 mark.
 
For whatever its worth, at this moment, the National League West is the only division with three teams over .500 outside of the American League East.
 
New Beginnings

Finally it's great to see former Blue Jays reliever/starter Carlos Villanueva doing so well for the Cubs. Carlos likely would have stayed in Toronto if the Jays had guaranteed he could be a starter. They felt they could do better and let him walk as a free agent. In three starts Carlos is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He would be 3-0 if the bullpen had not blown two games for him. He was a class act in Toronto and deserves all the success he achieves.




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