The Toronto Blue Jays ended a week full of adversity on and off the court.
First, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays came to town, with all three teams trailing the Yankees in the AL East, but all battling for first place in the AL Wild Card race. as we enter July. That included a Saturday doubleheader against the Rays to make up for canceled games earlier in the year, making it a five-game series at Rogers Center.
While the Jays came away with a 4-4 record this week, they were beaten soundly on Saturday, allowing 17 points on the day between the two games. Kevin Gausman also pulled off a scary comeback from his ankle and may have to miss his next start (TBD but at least not seriously injured) while the club also played with heavy hearts on Sunday after learning that Julia Budzinski, eldest daughter of the first base coach Mark Budzinski, died Saturday. The club held a moment of silence ahead of the series finale yesterday as condolences poured in from across the league and from the Jays fan base for the Budzinski family.
The Jays are now heading for a road trip out West that includes three games against Oakland before ending the week with a four-game series in Seattle. The Mariners are currently 13.5 games behind the Astros in AL Central while the A’s are struggling, holding a 26-55 record on the year. The Blue Jays will hopefully take the series from Oakland (a sweep would be great) before heading north to Seattle, where a clash between the Jays and former player and Cy Young 2021 winner Robbie Ray is possible later this week.
The Blue Jays will face the Seattle Mariners later this week on the West Coast, setting up a game against former pitcher Robbie Ray for the first time since leaving last offseason.
Ray pitched yesterday against the Athletics, going 6.2 innings while allowing just one earned run with two walks and 12 strikeouts, the best mark of the year for the Tennessee product. The Mariners have two games against the Padres and a day off Wednesday before Toronto comes to town, preparing for Ray to appear Friday or Saturday, depending on whether Seattle chooses to mix up their rotation with the day off.
After a slow start to the season, the former Blue Jays starter has begun to develop the same form that won him the Cy Young Award last season. In his last seven starts, Ray has posted a 2.06 ERA in 43.2 innings, going 3-1 with 49 strikeouts. Since June 1, Ray has gone a minimum of five innings in each outing and hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs, allowing one earned run or less in his last five outings.
It would be the first meeting between the two teams after Ray signed a long-term deal with the Mariners last offseason. The two teams faced off in Toronto in mid-May, but the left-hander wasn’t supposed to pitch because he played in the Mets’ last game of the series before they headed north of the border. While not that bad, what made it more interesting was that Ray didn’t travel with the club to his old stomping grounds and the club used a scheduled day off earlier in the week to get him to start the Sunday game. . He was not placed on the restricted list of players who are unvaccinated and cannot cross the border due to entry requirements into Canada and the United States, and there has never been a official announcement explaining why he wasn’t in Toronto, but it’s strange he wasn’t at the Rogers Center to be celebrated after having such a dominant season last year.
The first game between Ray and the Jays should bring back old memories of when the southpaw donned a Blue Jays jersey last season. Unfortunately for Toronto, Ray appears to be finding a rhythm, which means the Jays’ bats will need to be on point if they are to claim victory when he takes the mound later this week.