Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)
First and foremost - Happy New Year, everyone!
I write this with the Opening Day game underway with 6 innings completed. By now, you know that the Jays didn't put on the best of showcases, but that doesn't take away from the notion that it's finally baseball season and that, in and of itself, is a beautiful thing. That being said, there are a few things that ought to be addressed, and since the game is one that I think we'd like to forget, we might as well address them now. So let's get to it!
First, remember - baseball is a long season. This isn't football. This isn't basketball. The Jays dropping one game - the very first game at that - is mostly inconsequential in terms of what it means for them for the rest of the year, if not entirely. There are 161 more games to play, so anyone that is freaking out and declaring the Jays to be out of it or labeling them as hopeless doesn't really understand how the game operates. Moreover, it doesn't help that the Jays began the season by playing the Yankees! The Bombers didn't fail to flex their muscles and showcase why there is so much hype surrounding them, and it's a bit daunting to know that the Jays will be seeing the Yankees plenty more times this season.
The bottom line - don't fool yourself. Don't fall into the thoughtless trap of concluding that the Jays are doomed after one game. This team is much better than it was this time last year and I do not see them having a terrible April again. Further, there are still three whole games in this opening series! Who's to say that the Jays couldn't capture the remaining three - or even take a split with the Yanks? It's not impossible, and to be this down and pessimistic after one game is just silly. Don't throw the towel in this early. Honestly, it's just lazy.
Despite the ugliness that has been displayed, there were still some things that you can hang your Blue Jays New Era Cap on. Yes, Happ gave up two earned runs, which came off a Stanton bomb in the 1st inning, but he was otherwise pretty good! Happ pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 4 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 5 batters! Sure, you'd like him to maybe go six or seven innings, but the 5 K's sort of makes up for the lack of longevity today. There's no reason to be alarmed with Happ's outing and I still have confidence in him moving forward. That pitch that Stanton blasted into the bleachers wasn't even a bad pitch; in fact, it was pretty good! But, unfortunately, Stanton is (really) good enough to do that to a pretty good pitch. That's the breaks, kids!
And hey - Pillar hit a home run! Who'da thunk it?! In all honesty, there's no surprise there. Pillar had been solid during Spring Training and there was no reason to believe that it wouldn't bleed into the first month of the Regular Season, at the very least. With the Jays trimming back on the power this season, and with Donaldson not feeling quite right (don't worry - we'll get to that!), it's nice to see a home run on Opening Day. However, overall the offense wasn't anything to write home about. With the Jays only producing 2 hits throughout the entire game, I get why people would feel down about the performance. The only thing you can do is hope that this isn't a sign of things to come. There's still plenty of time for the team to sort of get in the thick of things and establish some sort of stability. Just be patient.
HOWEVER! Let's address the elephant in the room, and maybe we should have seen it coming. To boot -
Josh Donaldson on Sunday: "I wouldn’t say I feel amazing right now, because I don’t. But that’s getting through some things and hopefully by opening day, I’ll feel good." "Some things" obviously meant shoulder.— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) March 29, 2018
Josh Donaldson, in terms of his throwing, did not look good at all. There were a handful of balls that were hit to him that were fielded beautifully, but thrown very, very gingerly. It lacked the zip that we are familiar with when it comes to the former MVP of the American League and there is most certainly something that isn't right with him. It was concerning enough for me that I was surprised that he was even fielding today, and this is assuming that it didn't interfere with his hitting at all (honestly, I'm not in a position to evaluate if it did or didn't). He did go hitless today, but I'm not comfortable saying that it was due to his shoulder issue. I'm sure it may have contributed, but not as much as people may want to think.
Regardless, in terms of throwing, he looked bad. So bad that it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up on the 10-Day DL very soon. It might serve both him and the team well to get some rest and get his shoulder right. I'd rather be without Donaldson for the start of the season, than have this issue linger throughout the season and worsen. Donaldson is imperative to the Jays' success this season - if they are to have any - and they need to be proactive when it comes to their best player. I know he wants to prove himself and earn that big pay-day, but this is doing more harm than good in that regard and for the team.
In closing, although the Jays fell today 6-1 (oh yeah, the game just ended), for me to say "it's still early" is a crazy understatement! Just remind yourself that it's only one game out of 162. The bottom line is baseball is back! That, in and of itself, is a beautiful thing. Embrace it, dust yourself off, and set your sights for the next game.
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