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Preview: Yankees @ Blue Jays June 24

The sky has stopped falling. At least for one day, after the Blue Jays thumped the chasing New York Yankees 8-3 last night. Tonight, the Blue Jays will look to do something they haven’t done in nearly three weeks.

That would be win a series. After Toronto won or split seven straight (from May 13 vs Cleveland to June 5 at Detroit), the Jays have now lost or drawn five consecutive (May 6 vs St Louis to June 22 at Cincinnati). A victory tonight will secure an important series win over the guys in their rear-view mirror.

Here are four things to watch during tonight’s contest:

1. Bullish on Buehrle?

As was predicted just about everywhere, Mark Buehrle has come back to earth just a little bit. Over his last three starts (all losses): 19.1 IP, 7 ER, 19 H, 8 BB, 13 K (3.26 ERA, 1.39 WHIP). Those are still pretty respectable numbers, but not close to what he was doing earlier in the season. And to be honest, the losses were more due to lack of run support than anything else (the Jays scored a grand total of five runs during that span). He has a chance to tie Mashiro Tanaka as the MLB leader with 11 wins tonight, so I expect a strong start from the veteran lefty, despite his career struggles against New York.

2. Stay Hot, Lindy

He hasn’t played much lately because of the injured foot, and probably wouldn’t be starting if Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista were healthy, but in June Adam Lind has a .327/.400/.449 slash line. Against righties in 2014, he’s posted a .376 average and a 1.039 OPS. Both of which are second among qualified hitters in the American League. That’s pretty fantastic.

3. Tighten Up on D

I don’t have a statistic to support this, but it seems the defence has slackened a bit of late. That’s going to take even more of a hit with Lawrie likely out until early August and Bautista on the bench for a few days (although Anthony Gose did well enough with a highlight-reel leaping catch in right yesterday). Juan Francisco is going to get a lot of playing time at third base, and that’s probably going to cause flashbacks to Edwin Encarnacion’s E5 days. The pitching needs good defence to be successful.

4. Take a Breath, Fans

An incredibly hot May was followed up with a lukewarm (bordering on chilly) beginning to June. That’s going to happen. Far too many fans are starting to cry choke and jump off the wagons. As Bautista said last night, let them. If they aren’t true fans, we don’t need them. Fact of the matter is, the Jays took the lead very early in the season. They might very well win the division, but it’s entirely possible they do so even with losing the lead for a few days. In fact, I would be a little bit surprised if they stay in first place for the remainder of the season. The important thing is to bounce back strongly once they do give it up. Don’t let the hole get larger than a game or two. And so far, every time their pursuers have made a surge, they’ve been able to fend them off, so far.

I understand the fans in this city are used to seeing the Leafs blow leads within games, and blow leads in the standings, and much more. But those factors have nothing to do with the Blue Jays and the 84 games they have remaining. Stay strong, Jays faithful. We can do this.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Blue Jays 06/24 (43-35)
OBP HR RBI
SS 7 Jose Reyes .312 5 20
LF 53 Melky Cabrera .348 11 39
DH 26 Adam Lind .420 4 23
1B 10 Edwin Encarnacion .356 24 63
CF 28 Colby Rasmus .284 10 23
C 30 Dioner Navarro .310 3 30
3B 47 Juan Francisco .319 12 30
RF 11 Kevin Pillar .237 0 2
2B 66 Munenori Kawasaki .263 0 1
WHIP W – L K/BB
P 56 Mark Buehrle 1.23 10 – 4 59/28

BONUS:

Brandon Morrow getting “close” to a return:

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