[For the Jays-Sox Game 1 thread, please click here.]
Entering the season, all the talking heads in baseball predicted the AL East to be a three-team bloodbath. The Sox, Rays and Yankees would demolish each other and the rest of the league in the race for October. Nearly anyone making predictions wrote out the Jays, since they had lost so many starting pitchers to injury.
Now, a month and a half into the season, a different picture is emerging. The Rays have beaten the Sox, the Sox have beaten the Yankees, the Yankees have beaten teams not from Boston; the Jays have only played 6 games against AL East teams (everyone else has played at least 19). However, they stand atop the league with the best record (27-14).
What is going on? Why is a team with the best veteran pitcher in the league (Roy Halladay) and the best hitter in baseball (Marco Scutaro), in first place? Well, the Jays have been hitting very well: their league ranks are 1st in BA, 2nd in OBP, 3rd in SLG and HR. Especially dangerous are the vaunted Scutaro, Adam Lind, and Aaron Hill.
Likewise, the Jays' pitching has not only not imploded, but it has spectacularly not imploded: they Jays lead the league in K's and are 3rd in least runs allowed. Besides Halladay, they have gotten solid starting performances from Scott Richmond, Ricky Romero, Brian Tallet, Brett Cecil and Robert Ray. In the pen, Scott Downs has seized the closer role from BJ Ryan (9.45 ERA), and Jason Frason is performing excellent set-up work. Now let's turn to the OTM News Desk for a piece of Breaking News...
This just in: Apparently Marco Scutaro is not the best hitter in baseball. We here at OTM apologize for the error. It seems E.Coli's intern thought Scutaro's .284 / .415 / .458 (135 OPS+) line so far was reflective of his career, and that he could be expected to continue at this pace for the rest of the season. Considering that the 33-year-old Scutaro has never once held an OPS higher than 100 (i.e. better than league average for hitters), this is absurd. We apologize for the error, and return you to your regularly scheduled preview.
But all of these numbers have been put up primarily against the AL West and Central, which leaves a lot of questions going into this series. Will the Jays' rookie starters silence Boston's lineup? Will their hot bats stay hot in Boston? Did Marco Scutaro steal Ortiz's mojo? Are the Jays the new Rays, flying high over the league, or are they about to crash? Only time will tell.