Bottom of the ninth, runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. 0-2 count, Colabello has looked lost at the plate, and in the field the whole day. The runners take off, the pitch is in the dirt, blocked by Conger. No play at either base. This isn’t the Jays that I am use to. The well-executed double steal on a 0-2 pitch that you know Gregerson was going to bury to try to get Colabello to strike out. What happens after this? What does this create? Sacrifice fly or wild pitch ties the game, and a single or better wins it. Knowing that Gregerson isn’t a dominating closer by any means, Gibbons played the odds, and won. If I was watching this game a month ago it would have gone like this. Colabello strikes out on a pitch in the dirt. Reyes and Bautista are still at first and second.
This isn’t the John Gibbons that I am usually writing about. The guy that I am usually watching is the laid-back manager that is waiting for the long ball to get the win. In the Astros series I witnessed a change in these Jays. Sacrifice bunts, steals, and hit and runs were key to a lot of the victories over the weekend. Sweeping a first place Houston club out of Toronto. It was exciting baseball to watch. The fans were engaged, and so were the players.
Toronto was able to overcome a key error by Donaldson, and multiple walks in key situations by the pitching staff yesterday. This is rare to say about the Jays, but they are learning how to win. Sometimes you need to go after runs. You need to press the defense of the opposing team. Keep on manufacturing runs, and do not stop until the game is over. It’s complacency that has gotten the Jays into trouble before. They know they have a great offense with an abundance of power. It was the record that was just being put on over and over again by Gibbons. Things will turn around. These players will get hot. This weekend showed that they are not going to wait around anymore. Bautista is red-hot. Other than him we have players doing what they have always done. What’s the difference than? Timely hitting, decent pitching, and smart managing. During the games over the last two days there have been multiple times that I have said to myself. “Smart move or gutsy call.” All of Gibbons moves have produced, catching teams off-guard.
It’s nice to see the Jays playing this way. At the start of last year you were seeing a team that couldn’t maintain what they were doing. They were hitting home-runs at an outrageous pace, and Beurhle was looking like a Cy Young candidate. Everybody was playing at the top of their game. You just knew that the bottom was going to fall out once a few players cooled down, and injuries would happen to key pieces. This team is still a few games under .500, but you can see the tide turning.
It’s easy to go back to bad habits. If they get thrown out a couple of times in key areas, or hit into outs while trying to start a hit and run. They could just go back to what we are accustomed to watching. Big swings in key areas, when all they need is a single. Hopefully they realize that this isn’t a fluke. This is an exciting team when things are in motion. I have to give credit to Gibbons. He has made all the right moves recently. Maybe we are seeing an enlightened man that is managing to the style that is required to win? Or maybe we are seeing a man managing for his job? Either way, it looks like this team has been woken out of its slumber. Let’s see if they can continue this streak against a couple of very beatable teams in the Marlins and Mets. Is this a new Jays team? Doing whatever it takes to get the win. Let’s hope so. If this is the new brand of baseball in Toronto, I am completely on-board.