MLB

Ferguson: Blue Jays' offence firing on all cylinders

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Scott Ferguson, TSN.ca
5/9/2014 12:25:05 PM
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The Blue Jays' offence has been positively dazzling, especially in the first eight days of May. You might as well change the franchise name from the Blue Jays to the "Thunder Birds." The Jays have scored 56 runs in putting together a 6-2 record, good for an average of seven runs per game.

Over the last couple of weeks, everyone has been talking about the firepower of the Colorado Rockies and rightly so, but the Rockies have scored 58 runs over the same span in May and have an identical 6-2 mark. Granted, the Rockies don't play with a DH for the bulk of their games, so their totals are slightly more impressive
The Jays' pitching numbers have improved this month, as well. They have given up just 31 runs or just fewer than four per game. Colorado has surrendered exactly 32 or four runs per game right on the button.

On the season, the Jays have scored 178 runs and given up 158. That 178 total is second in the American League to the Chicago White Sox who have racked up 184, which is, coincidentally, the same number they have allowed. The 178 the Jays have scored is the best in the AL East, but the 158 against is fourth-worst in the American League, ahead of only the Texas Rangers (174), Houston Astros (181) and the White Sox.
 The Jays though have improved by leaps and bounds over a year ago when they were 13-23 out of the gate. At this point last season, the Jays had only scored 139 runs and had given up 190. The -51 run differential was second-worst in the American League to  Houston at -73.

The really interesting comparison takes us back to 1993, the last time the Blue Jays won the World Series. The season started a week later so it took the '93 Jays until May 14 to play their 35th game, but guess what - their record then was exactly the same as this year's edition at 18-17. On that date the '93 Jays had scored, you guessed it, 178 runs, the same as this year's team. The '93 bunch though had allowed a dreadful 193 runs through May 14 for a -15 run differential. I'm not saying the 2014 Blue Jays are as good a team as the '93 Jays, because at this point that would be ludicrous. Remember that the '93 Jays added Tony Fernandez and Rickey Henderson to the mix with in-season deals and became even stronger and the 1993 edition also had a lights-out closer in Duane Ward. Still, the numbers of the current team are intriguing and give cause for some hope.

Another point - the Blue Jays have won a season high five-straight, which, while impressive, can only be considered a starting point. The '93 Jays had three outstanding runs in-season, From May 20 through June 5, they won 13 of 16 games. Then, from June 15 through the 29, they took 12 of 14 to push their record to 48-30. After losing 10 of 11 from June 30 to July 11 to fall to 49-40, they rebounded to take nine of 10 from July 24 through August 3.  Next came a nine-game win streak from September 10 through 21 and then they finished the season by winning five of their final seven. The Jays finished the 1993 regular season with a 95-67 record, one victory fewer than the previous year's team. They scored 847 runs, second-best in the American League and gave up 742, which was fifth in the American League. Their run differential was +105.


On last May 9, the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox were in a virtual tie for first in the AL East. Tampa Bay was 16-18, four-and-a-half games out. The Blue Jays were dead last at 13-23, eight-and-a-half games out. On May 9, this time around, the Jays are alone in third place in the East, one game back  of the Yankees and one-and-a-half behind first-place Baltimore. It's still a very long, difficult haul, but this summer may not be as long as many of us thought it would be.

- We don't get to see enough of Colorado to truly appreciate the talents of their young third baseman Nolan Arenado. On Thursday, he broke Michael Cuddyer's club record 27-game hit streak that was set only last season. At 28 games, Arenado is exactly halfway to Joe DiMaggio's iconic 56-game streak set in 1941. If Arenado stays healthy and can put together one of those streaks for the ages, he would be in position to equal and then surpass DiMaggio's streak June 10 and 11 at home against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field. Realistically, though, in this day and age, it's hard to see anyone coming close to that milestone.

- The Blue Jays lost outfielder Moises Sierra on a waiver claim to the White Sox last weekend. He was added to Chicago's roster last Sunday and made late-inning appearances in that game against the Cleveland Indians and in Monday's cross-city rivalry game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, going hitless in one at-bat for the two games. On Tuesday, though, Adam Dunn was a late scratch and skipper Robin Ventura stuck Sierra in the line-up in right field. He went four-for-four and scored a run in the White Sox 5-1 victory over the Cubbies. It will be interesting to see how his career unfolds with this fresh start.

- Two of this year's early season hard-luck pitchers faced each other earlier this week at Wrigley. Jose Quintana of the White Sox pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, giving up just one run, while racking up his fourth no-decision in starts. This coming from the guy who set an American League record a year ago with 17 no-decisions. Quintana is 1-2 on the campaign with a 3.56 ERA. On the flip side, the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija, who's in his contract year, fired nine innings of three-hit, one-run ball before being taken out. Again, a no decision. Samardizija, who's pitched like an All-Star and has been the subject of many a trade rumour  is 0-3 with an incredible 1.62 earned run average. Ultimately, he probably will be traded to a contender, maybe even the Jays, but not until a lot closer to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And, yes, the White Sox did win that game at Wrigley 3-1 over the Cubs in 12 innings.

Melky Cabrera Jose Bautista (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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