Dan's Dugout: Blue Jays really ARE fighting birds • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Blue Jays really ARE fighting birds


Just when the baseball world was ready to to write off Toronto as a bunch of dead birds, the Blue Jays suddenly decided to justify their nickname.

Known for their tenacity against other species, the baseball Jays have turned a tepid summer into a torrid one.

Already possessing a potent offense that scores more often than anyone else, the Canadian club has never had the pitching to match.

Until now.

Toronto hasn't lost since adding Troy Tulowitzki

Toronto hasn’t lost since adding Troy Tulowitzki

Since pulling off a stunning trade for slugging shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto has lost just once — the day that manager John Gibbons decided Tulo needed a rest.

Amazingly, Toronto is 11-1 since chiseling away the face of the Rockies.

The Jays certainly made believers of the Yankees, not only sweeping a weekend series in the Bronx but holding the heavy-hitting home team scoreless for 26 consecutive innings. Not since 1999 had the Yankees been blanked in consecutive games — a string of 2,665 consecutive games.

All of a sudden, a pitching staff that had been very ordinary has become almost as good as the everyday lineup. Adding prized southpaw David Price helped but holdovers Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, and Marco Estrada must have had extra helpings of spinach somewhere along the way.

Toronto’s trade-happy front office started re-shaping the club last winter, when it pilfered All-Star third

Josh Donaldson is on an MVP track Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Josh Donaldson is on an MVP track
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

baseman Josh Donaldson from the Oakland Apathetics, but last month alone was a bonanza. Since July 28, the haul has included Tulowitzki, Price, relievers Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins, fleet outfielder Ben Revere, and utilityman Cliff Pennington.

The Jays are not only back in the hunt but champing at the bit, counting the hours til they take on the first-place Yankees at Rogers Centre this coming weekend.

The two teams will face each other frequently, with a four-game September series set for the Bronx and a three-game match after that in Toronto before the 2015 schedule expires.

Nobody can blame the Jays for being hungry birds — they haven’t even played a postseason game since winning consecutive World Series in 1992 and 1993.

Time is running out for both Hawkins, almost 44, and Dickey, pushing 42, who might not even return next year.

Jose Bautista watches another home run disappear into the seats

Jose Bautista watches another home run disappear into the seats

On the other hand, the team has a terrific nucleus, with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Donaldson, and Tulowitzki all with their eyes on the 40-homer plateau. They would be the first quartet of teammates to top 40 in the same season.

This is not the same Blue Jays team that played dead last year after closing within a game-and-a-half of first place at the trading deadline. These Jays are too good, too tough, and too hungry to suffer a similar fate.

As for the Yankees and the defending AL East champion Baltimore Orioles, they face a formidable opponents down the stretch.

Elsewhere in baseball:

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure: Danny Valencia, designed for assignment by Minnesota, has become the new cleanup man in Oakland . . .

Washington closer Drew Storen, having a fine season until the Nats traded for Jonathan Papelbon, has not been the same pitcher in his new set-up role . . .

Managers on the hot seat include Bryan Price (Reds), Dan Jennings (Marlins), Pete Mackanin (Phillies),

Intense Nationals pilot Matt Williams is not popular with players

Intense Nationals pilot Matt Williams is not popular with players

Pat Murphy (Padres) and even Matt Williams (Nationals) . . .

Three-time Manager of the Year Dusty Baker would be a great fit in any of those jobs . . .

The Tigers could not have imaged that erstwhile ace Justin Verlander would have only one win through the first four months of the season . . .

Does Atlanta’s acquisition of Michael Bourn make it more likely that Cameron Maybin will be the next man shipped to a contender in a waiver trade? . . .

The Giants are having their June Swoon in August, dropping four straight to the Cubs for the first time since 1977 . . .

San Diego seems certain to do something via the waiver wire, with ace starter James Shields the latest to clear . . .

Too much age and too much weight may be hurting Bartolo Colon

Too much age and too much weight may be hurting Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon may have a house in Clifton but won’t have a home in Flushing if he continues to stink up the place at his advanced athletic age . . .

Both the Cubs and Giants are scouting veteran Phillies second baseman Chase Utley . . .

After squeaking into the postseason picture as a long-shot wild-card last fall, the confident Kansas City Royals have the biggest lead of any of the six divisional leaders . . .

Sinkerballer Jim Johnson is sinking fast in Los Angeles after yielding eight earned runs in two-thirds of an inning at Pittsburgh Sunday and blowing a 5-3, seventh-inning lead . . .

Still haven’t figured why the Mets fired Wayne Hagin, one of the great voices in the baseball broadcast business, and why no one has picked him up.


About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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