Philadelphia Phillies vs. Toronto Blue Jays Series Preview
By Mike Lacy
. Image Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes in the NHL, teams will have a “home-and-home” series against each other, where they play on consecutive days, with one game at each team’s home arena. I suppose it’s only fitting that when facing Major League Baseball’s token Canadian team, the Phillies will be doing something similar.
First, the Phillies will host the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park for two games. On Wednesday, the action will shift to Rogers Centre in Toronto for the final two games of the series.
What’s the deal with the Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have wasted no time in assuming their usual position towards the bottom of the American League East standings. At least this season – unlike in 2013 – that was largely expected.
The Blue Jays’ lineup has a lot of pop. They rank second in the American League in home runs, and feature four hitters who have hit at least five dingers.
But that power hasn’t been enough to overcome a weak pitching staff. Their team ERA of 4.65 ranks 26th in baseball, and the failure has been rather evenly distributed. Supposed staff ace R.A. Dickey has an ERA over 5, while closer Sergio Santos‘ number is more than double that. Santos has been awful lately, blowing saves in three of his last four opportunities.
To read Pete Dymeck’s preseason preview of the Blue Jays, click here.
Phillies vs. Blue Jays: The Rivalry
Joe Carter. Image Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
When discussing the Blue Jays, the first name that comes to mind for most Phillies fans is Joe Carter. You might think he would be the biggest villain in Philadelphia sports history, but oddly, Phillies fans don’t seem to dislike him that much.
Carter has visited Philadelphia a few times since then, and while he received some boos, they felt more obligatory than anything. There didn’t seem to be the same sense of malice that players such as Jayson Werth or Scott Rolen have received. Apparently, it’s okay to hit a World Series winning home run against us, but under no circumstances are you allowed to leave the team.
Partially due to Rolen, I actually have a soft spot for Jays fans. I once took in a Blue Jays vs. Cubs game in Toronto, and I was shocked by how much Jays enjoy watching baseball. Even though it wasn’t a great game, these people really seemed to be having a good time.
They were a little shocked when I booed Rolen, but by the end of the game, we were all joking about it.
Blue Jays player who isn’t entirely horrible
Remember when there was a rumor that the Phillies and Blue Jays were talking about trading Domonic Brown for Jose Bautista? Based on early results, that trade would have been a huge steal for the Phillies.
While Brown is struggling to hit home runs, Bautista has already deposited nine balls into the stands. Combine that with an impressive .460 on base percentage, and you have one of the best hitters in baseball.
Blue Jays player who is horrible
R.A. Dickey. Image Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
When the Blue Jays traded for R.A. Dickey before the 2013 season, they thought they were getting a star pitcher. This just proves the old adage: Never trust a knuckleballer.
Dickey wasn’t bad last year, he was just average. That would have been fine, but the Blue Jays expected a bit more when they traded for the reigning Cy Young Award winner. This season, he hasn’t even been average. He’s leading the American League in walks and carries a 5.01 ERA into the series.
The Phillies receive a break in their interleague schedule this year by getting to play four games against the last place Jays. But over the past few years, a game against a last place team has not been a guarantee of success for the Phillies.
The Phillies will have their four best starters going (No, I didn’t include Roberto Hernandez even after Sunday’s gem), so they need to take advantage and get their bats going against a weak pitching staff.