TORONTO – The Blue Jays need a hero. They also needed one a month ago, but requests are still open.
Dominican Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put another resume on the table, hitting a three-run home run on Friday night Victoria 3-0 over the Red Sox at Rogers Center, a game that got the team back on track after a disastrous four-game loss to the Rangers.
“We’re in a 15-game season right now,” coach John Schneider said before the game, with the clock ticking louder by the day.
With so little time left for the Blue Jays to reclaim an AL Wild Card spot, these aren’t sweeping changes or major philosophical shifts. They had 148 games for that. Right now, Toronto is two weeks away, and the shortest path to the postseason is to find heroes.
“We’re in a good position right now,” Guerrero said. “If you look at Texas and Seattle’s schedules, they have to play seven games, which is good for us. We just have to think positively, keep working hard and get more wins.”
Of course, this isn’t the NBA. The Blue Jays can’t hand the ball to their own version of LeBron James at every big moment. But from the beginning, this squad was built in such a way that different players showed up every night.
“The hit he hit today was a big home run,” Schneider added. “Don’t overlook the fact that Bo (Bichette) had an earlier turn when he grabbed the ball when the score was 3-2. That’s what we’re talking about. It doesn’t have to be Vlad, Bo or George (Springer). It’s about everyone doing their own thing. Bo’s turn came before Vladdy, but his timing definitely looks better.”
In a perfect world, the Blue Jays would be playing great baseball, which is what we’ve heard since spring training opened in February. That didn’t really happen, and if you need a new example you usually don’t have to wait long.
Before Guerrero’s home run in the third inning, Mexican Alejandro Kirk hit a half-swing double that was also mishandled by Alex Verdugo in right field. However, when Daulton Varsho – the next batter – hit a ball toward shortstop, Kirk went to third, and it was obvious to everyone in the stadium that he was thrilled the moment he moved.
Instead of sliding, Kirk jogged past Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers after being tagged, stealing the air from a stadium desperate for a reason to cheer on its boys.
Guerrero’s blast soon distracted everyone from the baserun error that made it a three-run hit instead of a grand slam. But this entry gave a clear picture of these 2023 Blue Jays. They are good, even show a little more every now and then, but they always get in their own way.
These flaws have not gone away and it is unreasonable to expect them to go away at this point in the season. Kirk’s out was the Blue Jays’ 19th out at third base this season, more than any other team in the MLB. It was ugly, like so many others, but when a hero shows up you tend to forget everything else that happened in the game.
Equal recognition went to Puerto Rican José Berríos, who held the Red Sox scoreless for seven innings with eight strikeouts. Berríos gave his best the night they delivered their own “bobblehead.”
“We have turned the tide,” Berríos said. “Tonight we started winning and we hope we can continue this streak for a long time.”
Berríos, despite his few starts remaining, will be one of the engines powering this Toronto team. Even now, almost six months later, the right-hander appears to have a different level of speed that he can draw on in crucial moments. It is something you can control, which is very important and rare at the end of September.
It’s now a 14-game season. Soon this value will drop to a single digit number until the calendar runs out
The Blue Jays can’t get everything right before the end of the season, but superstars playing at their level allow you to keep dreaming.