I have to admit, I never thought Alex Anthopoulos would pull the trigger on a big trade at the July 31st deadline. Not only did he get one big-name player but two. Landing shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado was a coup in itself but the acquisition of starter David Price from Detroit blew everybody away.
Those two additions have made the Blue Jays better. But what is just as important as the new acquisitions is how the team performed in their series this past weekend against the Kansas City Royals. The Blue Jays had every part of their game working in taking 3 of 4 from the reigning American League champs. Remove that rough outing on Saturday by Mark Lowe, another late acquisition by Anthopoulos from Seattle, and they could have swept the Royals out of the country.
I saw something during that series that I had never seen from a Blue Jays team in almost two decades. It is the fact that they will not be pushed around, whether it is by opposing teams or umpires. The team was able to handle themselves quite well against the Royals on Sunday especially when it was clear the calls were not going their way. I loved the way everyone in the Blue Jays dugout was ready to fight when the benches cleared in the 8th inning. When you see and hear everyone having each other’s backs you know how good the chemistry is in the Blue Jays clubhouse.
What the Royals did with their headhunting is poke the bear. Combine that with Ned Yost’s butt-kissing (“I thought home plate umpire Jim Wolf did a tremendous job.”) and perpetrator Edinson Volquez playing the victim card (“(Josh Donaldson) was crying like a baby”), the Blue Jays will use that game as motivation to go after not just a wild card spot but the American League East division. And they will catch the Yankees. Because unless New York’s offense can maintain a 10-run-per-game pace the rest of the way, the problems they face with their pitching will make them vulnerable down the stretch.
All this leads me to believe this Blue Jays team has what it takes to go far. They have suddenly become crazy good but like I’ve said before everyone has got to stay healthy if they want to get into the post-season for the first time since 1993. The way things look right now, I expect both the Blue Jays and Royals to meet up in the American League Championship Series. That one will make the Habs-Bruins rivalry look like a picnic.