CHICAGO - The Toronto Blue Jays salvaged a victory in the finale of the windy city series but it wasn’t based on a crisp, overpowering pitching performance.
After two days of solid slumber, the Jays bats awoke Sunday to bang out four home runs and 10 hits en route to an 11-9 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
These days, if the Jays don’t hit, they don’t win and it really is as simple as that.
This day the Jays hit it hard as Colby Rasmus, Edwin Encarnacion, Kelly Johnson and Jeff Mathis all homered.
Both the Jays’ rotation and the bullpen have, due to injuries and poor performances, become shadows of what once might have been.
A case in point was on the mound Sunday as Brett Cecil, after receiving a four-run outburst in the top of the first, proceeded to give most of that treasure back when in the bottom of the frame with two on, two out and a 3-2 count against Alex Rios, he offered a pitch that was right in the former Jays’ wheelhouse and he crushed it to left to pull his team to within a run.
Cecil would allow seven runs, six earned, on six hits over just 4 1/3 innings.
To add to the overall pitching woes, lefty reliever Luis Perez was forced to leave in the seventh with elbow tightness.
Following the all-star game break there will be 19 days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline for general manager Alex Anthopoulos to attempt to patch the leaks and prop up the foundation of a team that even with the disaster of losing three of its starters continues to find itself within striking distance of the wild card bonanza.
With an offence such as the Jays possess and a tweak here and upgrade there on the pitching front, who knows? Or you could just throw in the towel.
Anthopoulos, as is his wont, offers no guarantees other than his standard message that he is always working on making the team better.
Pitching is what the Jays require but that’s the same need of just about every team in the league and with more interested buyers than sellers, the price for quality will be high.
Still, the rash of injuries to the Jays’ starters exposed the sad fact that there were no bright lights, no waiting phenoms to plug the holes. If the Jays have pitching depth in the minor leagues, it’s at the lower rung and not at Triple-A or Double-A.
Adding pitching depth is Anthopoulos’ job No. 1
“No question. We’ve used the depth, we’ve basically called everybody up and we’re going to need depth beyond that, so there’s no doubt about it,” Anthopoulos said Sunday in Chicago. “It’s clear with everyone being hurt we’re going to have to add some depth at some capacity one way or the other. That can happen at any time though.
“You can’t force it and you can’t go out and get someone for the sake of getting someone if they’re not really an upgrade over what you have. I think it’s very important that you make the right decision and if you do get someone, you bring in the right guy.”
Given that, Anthopoulos won’t commit to which camp he falls into — buyer or seller.
“I’ve been asked a ton to get locked in on one side, buyers or sellers,” he said. “I don’t want to say that our needs might not necessarily be the same just because of injuries and so on but our mindset’s the same as it was in the off-season as it was in spring training as it was two months ago. We’re trying to make the team better, we’re always trying to add. We’re not in the market to go get prospects that are four or five years away.
“That was the focus the first two years on the job and now it’s shifted a little bit. The first two years we built up the minor leagues, built up the farm, to try and get some core guys in place, have some guys under control, try to put the team together. Now we’re in the middle of the building of trying to get better.”
With the win Sunday, the Jays record is 43-43. Hanging around the .500 level, though, is not going to get it done and Anthopoulos knows that.
“We stayed at around .500 through the trial-and-error in the rotation with a bunch of different guys making starts,” he said. “There’s more stability now than there was which tells me that there is upside for more than .500 going forward.
“I think we’ve shown we can hang in it with what’s gone on and hopefully we can get try and get better too.”
The hope for the Jays fans is the latter.