But while there won’t be any Wild-Card race or Pennant race – if you really want to think big – for a chance at postseason ball, there are many reasons fans and management alike can think positively about the future. And those reasons go beyond Jose Bautista’s 42 homeruns and Ricky Romero’s 15 wins, because it’s been the Jays youngsters who’ve been leading the team through the month of September.
First and foremost, of course there’s Brett Lawrie. While he’s only played 38 games of major league baseball, thus far the 21-year-old has exceeded expectations. Nine homeruns – including a walk off in a 1-0 victory at home – 23 RBI’s and quite a few defensive gems make Lawrie the face of the Jays future. But he’s not the only youngster who’s had success this month.
While Lawrie’s walk off homerun against the Red Sox on September 5th was the biggest moment of the Langley B.C natives’ career thus far, it was also a big night for another Jay as well. Coming off his first victory as a major league pitcher in a 13-0 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles, prized-prospect Henderson Alvarez pitched six innings of shutout baseball against the Red Sox the night of Lawrie’s walk off. And while the statistics show Alvarez received a no decision that night, he held the Red Sox, one of best offensive teams in all of baseball to just four hits.
Two nights later against the Red Sox, 27-year-old Adam Loewen made his debut with Toronto. And while it wasn’t quite his first appearance in the MLB – he played several games for the Orioles from 2006-2008 as a pitcher – it was a big moment for the Canadian who had turned himself, due to injuries, from a pitcher into a position player. And in the 8th inning Loewen recorded his first major league hit, singling to right field and eventually scoring the tying run on a Jose Bautista walk. The Jays went on to win that night 11-10.
“Now I'm actually doing what I want to do,” Loewen told the National Post
as he prepared for his second major-league debut. “I feel very blessed to even still be playing at all. It's just a surreal feeling to be here right now.”
Just a day later, in the final game of the series with the Sox, it was David Cooper’s turn to leave his mark at the plate. Playing in his first game since May 15th the 24-year-old rookie had the first multi-hit performance of his career going 3-4 with two doubles and two RBI’s in a 7-4 Jays win.
And on September 11th against Baltimore, both Loewen and Cooper’s bats brought the Jays from behind in what turned out to be a 6-5 victory. In the 7th inning with Toronto down 5-3 Cooper homered to right field and just two batters later Loewen tied the game hitting a solo shot of his own to center field. Later in the inning Jose Bautista hit a sacrifice fly bringing in the eventual game-winning run.
“The impressive thing with the young players that have come up, they haven't backed away from the environment,” Jays manager John Farrell told the National Post
earlier this month. “They come in with a level of confidence, a little bit of selfassuredness when they come back a second time, and it's allowed their abilities to play out more consistently.”