The Toronto Blue Jays are in Tampa Bay this weekend to conclude an extended road trip that has seen the club spiral out of first place in the American League East.
The Jays lost seven straight road games prior to R.A. Dickey’s 4-0 blanking of Texas Rangers on Tuesday and are a couple games over .500 and chasing the Baltimore Orioles for the division lead.
Each league is allowed two wild card teams, who play each other with the winner advancing to the division series. Unless one of the East clubs gets hot, it may be a case of win the division or forget about the World Series play.
They need Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie back in the lineup at the start of the second half and Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Adam Lind to be healthy. The Orioles have the best everyday lineup in the East, but they have serious issues, too. The Birds are without all-star catcher Matt Wieters, slugging first baseman Chris Davis is hardly hitting his weight and their bullpen is suspect.
The Yankees lost C.C. Sabathia for the season. In addition slugger Carlos Beltran is hurt more than healthy and ace right Masahiro Tanaka is on the disabled list.
Tampa Bay is the hottest team of the group but they’re nine games under .500 and are trying to dump ace lefty David Price because they cannot afford his $14 million per season salary. As for Boston, they have more holes in their lineup than the Jays or Yankees.
If you’ve watched the Jays, you will notice nothing has changed much since manager John Farrell was there three years ago. I know it’s hard to believe but John Gibbons is almost as terrible as his predecessor, maybe worse.
The base running blunders like the other night continue to occur on a regular basis. Fringe players, and there are numerous on the Jays, cannot even sacrifice bunt. When you are hitting a little more than your weight, you must be able to bunt successfully.
Why Gibbons continues to platoon Colby Rasmus (12 home runs, 27 RBIs in 190 at-bats) in centre field for a collection of outfielders, who collectively don’t have near those numbers, is beyond me.
And let’s not forget general manager Alex Anthopoulos. While the West-leading Oakland A’s traded for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the Jays stood pat. Samardzija looked great in his debut against the Jays. The reasoning behind the Blue Jays not making any moves is they don’t want to give up any of the prized prospects. Have you seen any lately? Anthony Gose is one of their top prospects and he couldn’t hit a watermelon. The Jays may stay competitive in the East even with dumb and dumber running the show.
Closer to home
You can’t help but admire Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame member Don MacDougall, the man responsible for taking the Toronto Blue Jays to Canada.
The Island-born-and-raised ex-Blue Jay is now chancellor at UPEI but he still finds time to help baseball folks. MacDougall has entered a team in the upcoming Charlottetown Islanders baseball fundraising golf tournament, set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22, at Avondale.
If you are a true Jays fan, this is an opportunity to thank Don personally or get your picture taken with him. Don’s team could be tough to beat as it is rumoured his sister Pat Mella is playing. Dr. Bill Scantlebury’s team is also entered.
The Islanders are in Fredericton for two games today before coming home to entertain the Moncton Mets on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field in a key New Brunswick senior league game. The Islanders are 10-8 on the season and their young pitching staff of Jake Beck, Jordan Stevenson and Brodie McDonald is keeping them in every game.
The best teams and players in Eastern Canada will be here for a tournament featuring under-16 and -18 boys, and women’s under-18, -20 and senior.
The provincial teams from Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland will be competing and an additional feature is tonight’s 6 p.m. exhibition game at Colonel Gray Field between Nova Scotia Keltic and New Brunswick Black Spruce, the best senior teams in the region.
P.E.I. Mudmen will be represented with six of their young stars competing. Morgan Campbell plus twins Adam and Aaron Fitzpatrick from Montague will play for Nova Scotia Keltic while James Mallard, Sean Doyle and Alex Forrest will join New Brunswick.
The Lobster Festival week of harness racing gets underway Sunday afternoon with the first Governors Plate trial at $5,000 and the second goes Monday night in Summerside. Sunday’s 1 p.m. card is a dandy with the trial and three eliminations for open mares at $2,200.
The trial, from the rail out, has D G’s Camme, Likely to Win, Red Rock, Narragansett, Touch of Lightning, Carnivore, Ultimate Luck and Modern Xhibit.
State Treasurer faces his biggest test of the season when he tackles the big boys of the invitational ranks in North America tonight in the $460,000 William Haughton Memorial at The Meadowlands. Thinking Out Loud, Sweet Lou, Captain Treacherous, Bolt the Duer, Betters Edge, Foiled Again and three others will make for a terrific race.
Also tonight the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for three year olds where elimination winners J K Endofanera and He’s Watching have posts two and three, respectively, in the 10-horse field.
At Mohawk tonight, the $34,000 top class has attracted a top field where Apprentice Hanover and Jody Jamieson look like the best against a field that includes Lucan Hanover (James MacDonald), Resistance Futile (Anthony MacDonald), Ellis Park (Chris Christoforu) and four others.
Friday at Mohawk, the fastest trotter in the world Sebastien K, who took a record of 1:49 last week, was entered in one of two Maple Leaf Trot eliminations. The other six-field elimination also at $40,000 had Market Share, Mister Herbie, Intimidate and Modern Family for driver James MacDonald.
Fred MacDonald's column appears in The Guardian each Saturday. He can be reached at email@example.com.