The mood in the visitor’s clubhouse at Safeco Field, after Toronto dropped a 3-2 decision to Seattle late Tuesday night, was somber, as expected. Having lost two in a row to the lowly Mariners, and more importantly the series, the writing was on the wall for the Blue Jays, their season officially over, only 11 games in. Manager John Farrell tried his best to put a positive spin on the results.
“You know, we learned a lot over these last two weeks, and throughout Spring Training. I learned a lot. It’s been a great experience for me, personally, working with the staff, and getting to know the guys. Now we’ve got, what, 151 games to prepare for 2012. I’m excited, to tell you the truth.”
Farrell’s troops had a harder time accepting their fate. Travis Snider, enjoying his customary post-game filet mignon, was crushed to have his season end at home, in his native Washington.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was still thinking about Monday night’s collapse up there against [Michael] Pineda,” Snider said, between bites. “How the hell do we blow a 7-0 lead against the Mariners? Meats don’t clash, man.”
Snider shook his head in disgust. Hitless in the first two games of the series, and batting .147 on the season, Snider was brutally honest when it came to himself, and his teammates.
“I’ve got to be better. Period. I mean, what hope do we have if Corey Patterson’s leading the way, when it comes to driving in guys on base? Jesus. Meats don’t clash, man,” Snider lamented, once again.
At that moment, Snider, seated next to the post-game spread, was asked by Edwin Encarnacion, seated at his locker, to toss him a bread roll. Snider obliged, showing off his rocket of an arm. It couldn’t have been more than ten feet, and the roll was thrown right at the numbers, but Encarnacion couldn’t handle it.
“E5, you bastard,” Brian Butterfield muttered, as he walked through the clubhouse.
Snider managed a smile, as Encarnacion made the walk of shame to the garbage can. I was hoping Edwin would try to toss the roll into the trash from afar, but he thought better of it. Snider was right, though, I thought. About himself, and especially about his teammates. Patterson himself agreed with the young left fielder.
“What do I got, four hits and four RBIs in two games? If these guys are relying on me to drive guys in, let’s be real, we haven’t got a prayer,” Patterson said.
I asked Patterson about the play at the plate in the 8th inning, when he tried to score on a Bautista foul ball to right field, which Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak ran down. Smoak made the catch on the run, turned, and threw a strike to catcher Miguel Olivo. Patterson was DOA, and didn’t even bother to slide, or try to knock the compensatory draft pick out of Olivo.
“What’s that, Home Run King? Yeah, be right there,” Patterson said, looking back, and to his left. And then he walked away. No one was there. Most certainly not Jose Bautista, who I could see at his locker. Strange cat, that Patterson.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Not for the Blue Jays, or their fans. Not after Toronto stormed out of the gate, winning four of their first five games, and five of their first seven. But the team’s problems began on the road, in Anaheim, and followed them northwest to Seattle. And it was staff ace Ricky Romero, who pitched his tail off Tuesday night, who was taking the premature end to the season hardest.
“Losing two in a row to Seattle, and a series to Seattle, is the actual, definitive opposite of Beast Mode. I’m just really disappointed in myself and my teammates right now. Milton Bradley’s out there wearing f–king earplugs, and we’re losing one-run games to these guys? Blowing seven-run leads to these guys? How many runs did they score last year, 73? No one in this room should be happy right now,” Romero said, as he punched a wall near his locker, and screamed “BEAST MODE!!!1″
One-run losses. They’ll kill you. Five of the Blue Jays’ six losses have been by just one run. The team’s other loss was by only two runs, over the weekend, after being dominated by Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver. I asked Jose Bautista about why his team couldn’t come through in tight ball games.
“It’s tough, man,” Bautista said, Usher’s “Oh My Gosh” playing softly, on repeat, from a tiny set of speakers in his locker. “I mean, I joined this team in 2009, when Aaron Hill and Adam Lind were Silver Sluggers. Do you recognize those guys anymore? I sure as hell don’t. I want those guys back.”
Lind, batting .206/.216/.324 against right-handed pitching, didn’t have any answers for me.
“You know, I really think Indiana deserves an MLB team. Great state. Just a really, really great state.”
I persisted, asking Lind about his .133 batting average with runners in scoring position in 15 at-bats, and .143 batting average with runners in scoring position with two outs. Lind, though, deflected, pointing the finger at his lost Silver Slugging cousin, Hill.
“I don’t think Hill’s got a hit in nine at-bats versus a southpaw this season. That’s brutal,” he said, as he began to play with his iPhone, and then put on a rather large set of headphones.
Hill refused to comment, telling me, “What’s the point? The season’s over. No comment. I’ve gotta go tune my guitar.”
Eleven games in, no, it absolutely wasn’t supposed to be this way. Not for Hill and Lind. Not for Brett Cecil. Not for anybody. Not when the Blue Jays were only two games out of first place in the American League East, trailing the Baltimore Orioles, who surely won’t be there in about, oh, a week. Not when the Blue Jays were two games ahead of the dismantled-but-still-apparently-bloody-awesome Tampa Bay Rays. Not when Toronto was four — four! — games up on the 2-9 Boston Red Sox, who would probably kill to have Jo-Jo Reyes in their starting rotation.
“Maybe next year,” Kyle Drabek, Wednesday afternoon’s starter, said, as he walked past me, headed out of the clubhouse, and towards the team bus. “And, hey, have you seen David Purcey? Can’t find that dude anywhere.”
Image courtesy Mental Floss.