Tomorrow night, the Oakland Athletics will play host to a team that is a playoff hopeful, as the Toronto Blue Jays roll into town on a Friday night.
The Blue Jays weren’t really happy with the timing of the All Star break, because before the break they were red hot and on a roll, and didn’t want to halt that momentum. Before, the Jays had won eight of ten after knocking off Detroit 6-1. And they need that streak to keep going.
The Jays are infamous for their skill and ability to handle a bat, and their lineup looked strong. But in the first half of the season, it was the pitching skills that carried the team to many victories. Recently though, both pitching and offensive play have started to get into sync as Toronto’s offense starts to show signs of eruption.
Ideally for the Jays, if their arms and bats can get on the same page, they will be a very tough team to beat in the American League East. Marcus Stroman will take on the A’s for the second time in his career on Friday night. He’s just coming off of a 4-2 win against Kansas City, with only two runs allowed on three hits over eight innings. It was an impressive outing. It’s lead the team to believe they are playoff bound.
For Oakland, it’s a totally different story, they would be happy to achieve their lone goal of reaching .500, but in front of them is a tough climb since they are 13 games below the breaking even point. A 2-1 defeat at Houston, had left the team compiling losses in seven over ten games going into the break.
They have been quite inconsistent on both the mound and at the plate. The team has recently considered a four run game a ‘solid offensive effort’ which is quite poor for their division. Their pitching has welcomed a few new faces, and they will have to gather their skills and push through the second half of the season with the goal to gain valuable experience that can lead them into the future.
Pitcher Rich Hill has replaced Sonny Gray as the best arm on the team so far. On the season Hill has gone 9-3 with a 1.09 Whip and 2.25 ERA over 13 starts and 76 innings, which is not bad and provides hope for the A’s.
Toronto are on the upswing, going 8-1 in their last 9 games, and overal are 9-2 in their last 11 ‘Friday games’ while going 2-6 in Stroman’s last 8 Friday starts. So Oakland could take advantage of that. They themselves are 2-6 in their last 8 ‘Friday games’ and are 8-3 in their last 11 ‘Friday games’. The Athletics are 3-8 in their last 11 overall games. The A’s have good pitching but their bats don’t match.
The Jays are not now holding the top spot in the American League East division, but they want it badly, so it won’t take long before they close in on the Baltimore Orioles. Though they had a disappointing start to the season with both their offence and bullpen struggling, the Jays are enjoying hitting their groove.
And they are confident even without Jose Bautista, without whom the team won eight of their last nine games going into the All-Star break. For the first time since 1992 and a championship season, they have 50-plus wins at the halfway mark, and many baseball experts and gurus think they are among the top contenders for the World Series. We agree!