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Preview: Yankees @ Blue Jays – Time to Buckle Down

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The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour (Featuring Carlos Beltran, The Ghost of C.C. Sabathia, and the rest of the cast of the Expendables) rolls into the Skydome looking to wrestle the division lead away from the suddenly-reeling Blue Jays.

A whole lot has happened since we took our little hiatus – the Jays went on an insanely entertaining hot streak, only to crash back to earth hard and currently find themselves in desperate need of some soul searching.

Brett Lawrie was placed on the 15-Day D.L. today after taking two pitches off the hand in the same week, Jose Bautista was NOT placed on the D.L. (yet) with his mild hamstring strain, the pitching seems to have fallen back to earth, and no healthy hitters (save for those named Edwin) seem to remember how to hit in the clutch lately.

The good news is that despite dropping 7 of 10 (and 11 of 15), they still lead both the Orioles and Yankees by a game and a half, the Red Sox by 6.5, and the Rays by a hilarious 11 games. The 2014 A.L. East, everybody…

Mike Wilner was bang on last week when he mentioned that a lot of commentators and fans have forgotten what it’s like to watch a contending baseball team. Obviously, this is expected when a team goes two decades without making the playoffs, but it’s been amazing to see how many people are ready to stop watching after a mediocre start, how many were ready to crown them during the win streak, and how many hit the panic button over the last few weeks.

We’re nearly halfway through the season, and the Jays are in first place. I don’t know about you, but I’m riding this wave until there’s no more wave to ride. In a month, maybe AA will swing some crazy trade and bolster the roster, then Lawrie will return from his injury, and Brandon Morrow will ride in on an iron-clad horse.

Say it with me: First place Blue Jays.

TONIGHT’S LINEUP vs Chase Whitley (3-0, 2.11 ERA)

1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Melky Cabera, LF
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
5. Colby Rasmus, CF
6. Dioner Navarro, C
7. Juan Francisco, 3B
8. Munenori Kawasaki, 2B
9. Anthony Gose, RF
–  Marcus Stroman, P (3-2, 5.14 ERA)

The lineup preempts my announcement that with Lawrie going on the shelf, and J-Bau banged up, the Jays sent Erik Kratz down to Buffalo, and called up Gose and the Hebrew Hammer (the 4th?), Kevin Pillar.

The return of ZZ Lind still manages to spread out the depth of that lineup, even though you’ve got two relatively dead spots in Mune and Gose.

But every team experiences injuries, and good teams fight through them and power on.

In four starts, Stroman is 2-2 with a 2.91 ERA – pretty good. He’s walked five, fanned 19, and has only allowed 7 earned runs in 21.2 innings. He didn’t make it out of the 4th inning last week against the Yanks, but he was making his Yankee Stadium debut against a tonne of his friends and family – he should be determined to bounce back.

I’ll be watching the game tonight, and talking about it on @JaysBalk. Won’t ya join me?

For Jays Balk, I’m @TheAsherRoth.

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