14 August 2020
This year, diehard baseball fans have had to wait patiently for play to get underway. As teams began to gather across Florida and Arizona to kickstart Spring Training, schedules were post-poned across all major sports leagues nationwide.
By mid-March, Spring Training was cleverly rebranded as ‘Summer Camp’. Fans waited patiently for their teams to regroup while the MLB hashed out terms with its player association. Meanwhile, franchise owners attempted to account for the shortened season.
In Toronto, Blue Jays fans waited to see if the squad would return from Florida. In early June, fans got a peek into the upcoming season when the 2020 MLB Draft took place remotely on June 10-11.
Dreams of a makeshift ‘Summer Camp’ saw the Blue Jays return to Toronto from Florida in mid-June. Then, on July 6, after nearly four months of back-and-forth, the MLB announced a 60-game schedule.
Jays fans, from the MyEntWorld podcast Blue Jays Roundtable to the Jays Journal fan club, rejoiced. However, another twist came when Rogers Centre closed and the franchise moved south once again to their Triple-A affiliate park in Buffalo, New York.
On July 25, 2020, the Blue Jays kicked off their season against the Tampa Bay Rays. With back-to-back three-run innings in the 4th and 5th, the Blue Jays walked away with a 6-4 victory over the Rays.
However, this first game may well be their peak performance this year.
Ramping Up or Treading Water?
Following their first win against the Rays on Saturday, the Blue Jays lost 4-1 in their second game of the Saturday doubleheader. The following day, they lost 6-5 to the Rays to give the Tampa Bay franchise a 2-1 advantage in the three-game series.
After a long wait for the season to start, fans were less than enthused with their team’s performance. However, many rallied around the Jays and chalked it up to the unprecedented conditions.
Three days later, when the team faced off against the Washington Nationals, many thought the skeletal roster the Natonsl were working with would boost Toronto’s chance of sweeping the four-game series.
The Jays tied the series with the final game on Thursday, July 30 ending with a tough 6-4 loss at Nationals Park. However, the Jays had managed to pick up steam. Though unable to stick the first series with the Rays, they were able to tread water with the Nationals.
Trouble on the Mound
Unfortunately, the Jays have yet to recover following the cancellation of their Philadelphia Phillies series. After a six-day period of inactivity, the team headed to SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
The resulting loss was one of the worst in the history of the Jays: a 10-1 defeat. Though any pundit looking to bet on World Series odds for this coming season is likely looking at the Yankees or the Cubs when it comes time to post-season play, the Blue Jays defeat in Atlanta came as a shock to many.
The Braves may be a strong team, but the Blue Jays seemed to be on the come up. Though it was his first game since the July 25 MLB restart, many looked at pitcher Matt Shoemaker to account for the loss and his performance on the mound.
In the second inning, he allowed two runs from Matt Adams and Tyler Flowers. In the third inning, Austin Riley sent a home run beyond the wall with two men on the bases, leading to a three-run homer.
Meanwhile, the Braves relied on their own pitcher Max Fried to prevent runs. Fried was sent to the mound suddenly after Mike Soroka of the Braves tore his Achilles tendon this past Monday. Fried delivered, allowing a single run from the Jays and only four hits total.
This performance had Jays fans worried. However, the Jays face-off against the Braves the next day saw them take a 2-1 win. The big change came in the pitching lineup, which didn’t list Shoemaker in the lineup.
Jays fans will likely keep their eye on Hyun-jin Ryu to keep up the work. In their second face-off with the Braves, Ryu pitched for five innings with eight strikeouts and three walks.