It has been the same old story for the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite building a relatively solid team that looked capable of challenging in the American League East, John Gibbons’ side are rooted to the bottom of the division and they are having a tough time of it.
With a 54-60 record ahead of Saturday’s mini-series with Pittsburgh, the Blue Jays aren’t completely cast away but they will need a minor miracle to climb the standings.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates head to Rogers Centre in a similar position. Also holding a losing record, the five-time World Series winners are fourth in the National League Central and this could be a relatively low key contest if truth be told. Winning the series is obviously helpful for racking up victories but it won’t damage their respective divisional rivals.
Toronto Blue Jays
The sands of time are running out on Toronto’s season and Gibbons is in serious danger of losing his job.
Their poor luck on the injury front couldn’t be helped but the Blue Jays head coach must take some of the heat – Toronto have seriously underachieved this year and are a distant 125/1 with Bet365 for the World Series – but Gibbons can help to win a few doubters over in the latter stages of the campaign.
The Blue Jays have been hard to predict in recent weeks – they’ve been winning the odd game here and there with a defeat sandwiched in the middle.
Consistency has been their main weakness all season and the failure to build momentum has cost them dearly in the grand scheme of things. In time, Toronto could challenge once again but for now, they are a long way away from those glory days.
KEY MAN: JUSTIN SMOAK. It’s that man once again; mainly because nobody else has lived up to expectation. Jose Bautista’s failures have been well documented and Smoak has had to pick up the pieces.
He smashed his own career-high record for home runs in a single year midway through the season and he continues to improve despite his age. Who would have thought that an All-Star campaign would be on the cards at 30 years old? He has never shown too much in previous years.
Smoak has one of the best batting averages on the Toronto roster and he will certainly have some influence and impact on the outcome of this weekend’s series.
If the visitors manage to restrict him, the Blue Jays may struggle. If not, then Smoak can carry Toronto to victory once again. When he gets going, he really is a joy to watch.
The Pirates have won 25 of their 57 road games so far this season but that decent record might not be enough here. Winning at Rogers Centre hasn’t been a walk in the park for visiting sides this season and Toronto will be determined to keep the Pirates quiet. With six wins in their previous 10 Major League Baseball outings, Pittsburgh are in decent form though and Toronto should be in for a tough weekend.
Pittsburgh have won four of their last five games and they will be keen to build momentum ahead of the business end of the campaign. Watch this space, the Pirates mean business and it certainly won’t be an easy ride for the Canadian outfit.
Are Toronto fans still interested? Of course they are. You won’t find many Major League Baseball fan bases as passionate or supportive as the Blue Jays. Hopefully they are rewarded this weekend with a series victory against Pittsburgh.
Beating the Pirates won’t be easy but the American League side can get the better of things this weekend. With a couple of big efforts from their main man, this could be Toronto’s time to shine.
BLUE JAYS 6-4 PIRATES