Testing Toronto's Mettle

My dog has nearly seen as many no-hitters live as I have. My wife and our shihtzu, Barkley, were in the stands for Dog Day at the Rogers Centre when Dustin McGowan took his no-no into the ninth inning.

From a reporter’s perspective, that was quite a hectic game. When Frank Thomas came to bat in the eighth, one swing away from 500 homers, and McGowan’s no-hitter was still intact, I was imagining the 20 sidebars I’d be writing after the game. It sure would’ve been something else to have both those accomplishments happen on one night. But alas…Jeff Baker.

On to other things…

Judging from there being no post on here yesterday, I’m sure the loyalists out there figured out I didn’t make the trip to Minnesota. I get to use these next few days to gather my strength for my upcoming three-week stint on the road. I’ll join up with the Jays in Seattle, and will be on the road all the way until Toronto returns home to play those same Mariners on July 20. I know I’ll be ready for some home cookin’ by then, and I’m sure the Blue Jays will be feeling the same.

This is without a doubt the biggest stretch of the season for Toronto. Think back to last year, when the Jays went 2-8 on a West coast swing through Seattle and Oakland, which kickstarted the seven-game losing streak that essentially took the club out of the Wild Card race. That shows you how brutal this trip can be, and this time around it’s set up with even more obstacles.

Counting Toronto’s win last night — which took the club over .500 since April 30, one day before that nine-game losing streak happened — 18 of the next 21 games are on the road for the Jays. Topping it off, all 21 games are against teams above, or right behind, Toronto in the standings.

Four games in Minnesota, which is currently a half-game above the Jays in the Wild Card race. Three games against Seattle, which is three games ahead of Toronto in the WC. Then, three against the A’s, who are one game above the Jays in the WC. Follow that up with a brief three-game home set against the Wild Card-leading Indians. After the All-Star break, it’s consecutive four-game sets against Boston, leading the East, and New York, which is one game behind the Jays.

Needless to say, if Toronto can return home on July 20 with a record at or above .500, I think the road trip can be called a success. That will be tough, though. At least there’s good news on the horizon for Toronto, considering Lyle Overbay and Reed Johnson should both be back around, or a little after, the All-Star break. Reinforcements are coming.

Overbay is scheduled to hit off a tee in Minnesota today, and Johnson is scheduled to start a Minor League rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League in about a week. One question Toronto will have to deal with is, when those two do return from the DL, what becomes of Matt Stairs? He’s certainly been an unsung hero over the past few weeks for the Blue Jays.

Since I’m not on the road, here are some highlights from today’s clips:


  1. docsanchez1@hotmail.com

    At least they won’t have to pitch to Milton Bradley on this road trip.

    (That game in Oakland last year was the only Jays game I saw in person in 2006 and it was a major heartbreaker.)

  2. gsumner@rogers.com

    What To Do!!!

    First, let me state I think Matt Stairs has been an unbelieveable signing for the Jays. The guy has played tremendous baseball. However, in the end, this is a business, although the decision I’d make would vary depending on what happens in the next 12 games.

    We play 12 games against the teams ahead of us in the wild card race-9 more on the road and then come home to play 3 against Cleveland. By the break we could be 2-3 games back in the wild card or 10 and out of the season.

    Assuming we do well in this stretch, and I think we will, I’d do the following when Overbea and Johnson come back. I’d option Phillips and Clark back to AAA and keep Stairs, Thigpen and Lind here. Thigpen is better defensively than Phillips, has a better bat and can also back up Overbea at 1st. They Jays have done a good job of easing him into the lineup and I think he’s ready for a bigger role.

    One way or the other, I’d dump Clayton and call up Sergio Santos from AA.

    If we’re 10 back, I’d also trade Stairs, who’s value doesn’t get any better than it is now. We signed him for 1 year and whether we trade him or not, the cost to resign him for next year, if we want to do that, will be the same. So I’d trade him and get some value now.

  3. dawe_aaron@hotmail.com

    It was pretty dumb for the jays to dump Thompson like that. Josh Towers is not a good #5 starter. What was the front office thinking?? DOes anyone know!! Tell me there is an awesome ******** excuse.

  4. serialthriller11@yahoo.ca

    Here’s your awesome excuse for dumping Thomson….”Thomson = garbage”
    They are only keeping Towers because they know there is not another team out there that will pay his salary. So the Jays are hoping too much that his skill level will somehow majorly improve. However the Jays should have moved him back down to AAA and recalled the batboy from Syracuse to pitch in the #5 hole. I’d have to say, he’d do so much better.

  5. rbastasich@rdgroupint.ca

    Finally someone out here who knows something about baseball!! Thomson = garbage may be the most accurate statement ive read out here in days. Don’t get me wrong because I am a hugh fan of the game and a strong Blue Jay supporter but most of you out here need to give your heads a shake. Most of the comments early in the season were singing high praises about Thomson, Ohka , and Zambrano and about how much money was saved…etc. Reality = a couple million dollars flushed down the toilet. Now all these ****** like sumner will have you trading away there hottest hitter for Beans and keeping your fingers crossed they get into a wild card race. I didnt realize the Jays all of a sudden had the best pitching staff in the world either oh ya I forgot… Halliday, Burnett, Shawn Carlton,and Dustin Koufax oh and I forgot to mention Jesse ” Maddux ” Litsch, and David ” Seaver ” Purcey. You guys are too much.LOL LOL. Always get a good chuckle out of reading your stupid comments. By the way dont hold your breath on A.J. he’ll be opting out of his contract after next season as quick as the Yankees can say 75 million over 4 years.

  6. rbastasich@rdgroupint.ca

    P.S. Sergio Santos will never play for this ball club. Why…. because he is a stiff. Zero eye at the plate, Poor baserunner, Can’t steal a base for his life, No more power ( 5 dingers last year ) since going off the juice, and can’t hit his weight in trips. All of this coupled with average defense at best. Boy are can hardly wait till this guy turns 25. Oh I forgot he is 25…lol Do you Sumner actually watch baseball or is this stuff based on your Sony playstation season?

  7. gsumner@rogers.com


    You know, the last time I responded to you was a bit of a shot accross the bow to see how you’d respond. I find it’s always unfortunate when you find out your initial thoughts about someone were accurate as I have with you.

    This is a MLB site for the Toronto Blue Jays. Fans are encouraged to post their opinions here and comment on the Jays and that’s a good thing. None of us are 100% accurate or we’d be running the BLue Jays, but, we’re all entitled to our opinion as fans.

    However, as in other blogs, posters have a responsibility to post in a responsible manner. Your posts of personal attacks on myself and others are not in that category and simply show your low intelligence level and inmaturity. So maybe you should consider cleaning up your act.

    You should also consider doing some research before you start babbling and you’d find out Santos has already hit 14 Hr’s and driven in 44 RBI’s in 68 games. His 14 Hr’s lead the Eastern League of AA. Not bad for a short stop. The Jays have rated his throwing arm the best in the organization, and the number of errors he’s committed are in middle ground-not high nor low.

    I have no idea whether he will make it at this level or not, but the Jays do have him on their 40 man roster so they must think he has a chance. And as a fan, I’d like to see him up here, if only for a short time, to see what he’s got.

    And by the way, I’d be cautious if I was you about claiming someone like Santos was on the Juice. That is slanderous, unfounded gossip you created and again shows your lack of responsibity as a poster.

  8. thegarryguy@shaw.ca

    rbast puke.O i’m sorry i didn’t mean to throw up on you.Puke sorry again.If you don’t like what we post why bother to read us puke sorry again.You know you dont have to insult us just because your sister wont sleep with you.You remind me of Josh Towers no future.

  9. harrypotter229@gmail.com


    u r unbelievable. As gsummer said we post here to share our opinions and what we think is right and since we are all bluejays fans here we need to make sure that we don’t yell, scream and show our immaturity to each other since no one is sure of how the season might turn out. if you don’t agree with someone you don’t attack them you reply to them and show some respect. Also if you don’t like what we say in our posts then DON’T READ THEM, just incase you might not know this in your thick head (oops i meant to say hollow head) the front office gets paid to do their job, they will always have a reason for what they do. Now we could have traded McGowan long ago but we didn’t and look he almost threw a no-hitter with 1 hit in the ninth. So before you attack anyone here or post some junk about players have some solid proof to back it up.

    And you might say i am a hypocrite since i’m attacking you after cleary writing in my post no to attack anyone, i will just say that i had to do this.

  10. gsumner@rogers.com

    Towers going 6.1 innings and giving up 3 earned runs is a quality start. I think Ty goes back to AAA tommorrow when Burnett is activated. As much as I dislike Towers, he’s likely deserved another start.

    Of course, then our bullpen took over and did their normal job of shutting them down.

    This is a huge win in that Boston, New York and Cleveland all lost tonight. So we’re now only 9 back of Boston, who are starting to show signs of being ordinary again, and 6 back in the wild card race.

    We also moved two up on NY tonight. Keep it going Jays, this road trip is huge.

    Hey check out our first rounder from last year Travis Snider playing for Lansing. His BA has recently droppped (little slump) from .362 to .322, but 5 HR’s and an amazing 51 RBI’s in 61 games. The guy’s turning into an RBI machine.

  11. mikecaissie02@hotmail.com

    Hi there!, I am 35 and played ball my entire life and also coache a team that was very successful for about 10 years. I have very good ball knowlege and I have to admit that I really do not like Gibbons. Over the last several years, he has made terrible decisions as a coach that really rattled me. Just to give you an example, last year, Jays are down 1 run with Castillo on 2nd(I can run faster running backwards, in the final innings of the game, Zaun sitting on the bench….a perfect situation to to pinch run and then bring in Zaun. I don’t quite remember the specifics but I do remember that they would have tied the game with a little bit of speed on base. I was really upset that a coach at the major league level just didn’t have a clue. I could probably go on with lots of other situations that I can remember that just totally PXXXXD me off over the last several years. I really think the Jays would have been closer last year if Gibbons would have made good decisions. He was directly responsible for at least 10 lost games last year. The last month has been totally different, I dont know if he’s been told or if he is not calling all the shots now but there is definately been an improvement. Hopefully this is not a just a phase Gibbons is going through. I think the Jays do have an outside chance to do something good this year but they will need their coach to make normal, common sense baseball decisions. Even though I really do not like Gibbons, I’m a Jays fan at heart and I really hope he can change his coaching style and lead this team to success. If not, I think front office has to make a change. I know Riccardi and Gibbons are long time friends but I think that with all the good moves he has done, If they do not improve on last year’s record, the priority for the Jays is a coach change(I’ve been saying that for 3 years now) Gibbon’s, please make me eat my words, play a little more small ball, and make sound, strategic decisions that will take this team to the next level. You have a solid team, Prove me wrong and lead this team to greatness.

  12. thegarryguy@shaw.ca

    I think the reason for the errors is the Twins have speed on the bases the Jays are rushing their plays.My opinion on Burnett a complete *****.I don’t care how good he thinks he is he has no right to act like he did.He has no right to wear a blue jays uniform i hope he does opt out good riddance.

  13. jordanjonathan@hotmail.com

    Ya those Twins are a nightmare when they get on base. One things for sure though, Burnett is a BIG question mark right now. Hes had good years but this year hes had very few solid games which is not what you would expect for the big contract he has. Ive been hearing its a steal of a contract but he sure hasnt proved that. The only success he has had has been against slumping teams or at times were better teams were in a slump. With the schedual ahead he better figure out his mechanics.

  14. thegarryguy@shaw.ca

    gsummer.I read in the Toronto Sun where he threw his glove to the crowd and tore off his jersy when Gibbons took him out before he left the field.

  15. gsumner@rogers.com

    Thanks Garry

    Frankly, I like what Burnett did, it shows he wants to win, and was upset with this performance-nothing wrong with that. I also find it refeshing to see Thomas get upset and tos’d. This intensity is what this team has been missing; it’s nice to see it. Is it only coincidence that it comes back when Zaunie comes back, I don’t know.

    In defense, Burnett became our #1 starter when Halliday went down and everytime he went out there he delivered a quality start. In the 10 games he’s started this year 8 have been quality starts. That is a good average and is the mark of a good starter.

    He’s had mediocre run support or would likely be 8 and 2. Instead he’s 5 and 6. Imagine Burnett sitting there, not able to pitch, while the team is racking up 10 and 12 runs a game, when he had 1 and 2 scored for him.

    He was frustrated and knows if he had started better the team would have won today. He also knows how important this road trip is, and how much nicer it’d have been going to the west coast with 3 of the 6 wins required on this road trip in the bag.

    The other thing , I’d like to say about Burnett is, I’d bet he doesn’t op out of his contract for more money elsewhere. I think Burnett likes it here and wants to be a major contributor in helping us win. I also think the money we’re paying him is more than enough for him to enjoy the lifestyle he wants and feels lucky to get such a contract.

    I think sometimes, like Wells, Burnett trys too hard to win.

    If you think this is intense, wait till Johnson gets back. With the game on the line, I’d bet he’d put his entire body across the plate to ensure the pitcher hits him and he gets a pass to first base. LOL

    For the record, Burnett lost today,because Frasor blew a halt. When Burnett left only 3 runs were in, by the time Frasor finished the 5th 2 more plated.

    These guys keep playing with this emotion and intensity though and it’s going to be a fun second half to be a Blue Jays fan.

  16. gsumner@rogers.com

    One Other point

    Gibby did make the right decision in pulling Burnett today and keeping his pitch count limited. Burnett was just coming off the DL and it was right to limit his pitch count.

  17. kenwo4life@aol.com

    Congratulations to Big Frank on homer 500. Im a White Sox fan and have grown up watching Frank hitting bombs. I’m 27 with a kid on the way now and he’s still doing it! here is to one of my all time favorites on reaching a remarkable milestone! way to go Frank!

  18. thegarryguy@shaw.ca

    gsummer.The thing that bothers me is when he threw his glove into the crowd he showed up his manager but when he ripped off his team jersey he insulted his manager his teamates and the fans.Trade him for Bedard.???. This team is going great guns right now they dont need any problems in the clubhouse.I think this team will be a killer next year now that Marcum and McGowan have showen they can pitch with the best of them.P.S. To rbast. Sorry about the sister remark i’m not sure if you even have a sister.

  19. jordanjonathan@hotmail.com

    I saw that game and I think Burnett was just pissed at himself and the whole situation. He not used to having a pitch count either this year so he probably felt like he was just getting started and everything was falling apart in that inning. Now I am upset about one thing. Phillips really *****!!!! He has a terrible average, cant run, cant throw out anyone. I mean bring something, anything , maybe even a cool hair cut. Why arent they using Thigpin on the days Zaun has off. He seems like an all around guy. Mind you I wonder what kind of cannon he has for throwing people out. Anyways dies anyone know why they are not utilizing him over Phillips???

  20. jordanjonathan@hotmail.com

    sorry about the spelling and I cant believe they automatically censor the word suc-ks

  21. gnorman@cogeco.ca

    “Anyways dies anyone know why they are not utilizing him over Phillips???”
    Gee, I dunno if I should post here or not. Liable to get shot!! I think the reason they use Phillips is that his main job is calling the game and working with the pitchers, something he does very well, but is not apparent to viewers. Thigpen is not fully developed as a catcher yet, something the Jays are aware of, and I don’t think this should be learn as you earn time with the big club. When Johnson and Overbay return, we will likely see Thigpen and Lind return to AAA with thanks to continue their development. Matt Stairs will return to his bench role, and the club will almost be back to what was envisaged in Spring Training (minus Ryan and League).

    BTW, John Thompson had a very good outing in KC yesterday, so he is definitely not garbage. The only reason Towers is here is that the Jays are paying him big money to lose ball games. In all fairness, he doesn’t get the run support, but that goes hand in hand with what happens in the other half of the inning. If he can’t find a way to start winning ball games, I don’t see how he will be in the Jay’s plans for 2008.

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