The questions are the same, just worded differently and with more insistence.
Answers? They remain elusive.
So what are the Toronto Blue Jays going to do to get this thing turned around, J.A. Happ?
“I don’t know. We gotta – I don’t know. Just find a way,” he said late Tuesday after a 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers that dropped the big lefty’s season mark to 8-8. “It starts with pitching. . . . we got outplayed and it started with me, I guess.”
How do you deal with the frustration of a disappointing road trip, Jose Reyes?
“We just want to go home . . . it’s tough,” he said.
The shortstop went 0-for-4, snapping a nine-game hitting streak, and committed his 16th fielding error of the campaign at Miller Park.
He allowed the consequences of a long sequence of losses (the Jays have now lost 12 of their last 16 contests) can push players into bad habits.
And those, needless to say, have a way of becoming self-perpetuating.
“As a baseball player, sometimes you try to do too much. But everybody has a different approach, everybody tries to do their job, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. It’s baseball, this is a tough game to play. We come every day with the right attitude, try to score a lot of runs, and sometimes it doesn’t happen that way,” he said. “(Tuesday) we got two hits and one run, maybe (Wednesday) we get 10 runs. Who knows? But we’re always going to come with the same attitude to the ballpark, no matter what happens.”
Another question on the mind of many a Canadian baseball fan: is this what the Blue Jays are? A fringe playoff contender with inconsistent hitting and a middling pitching staff?
The players, of course, dismiss that idea; in their minds, this is still the team that led the American League and was the best team in baseball for much of May and June.
“I still think we all feel like we can come out of it. I think, you know, hopefully we can break out of it. We’re going to need to sooner than later. But, I certainly know we’re capable,” Happ said.
Fair enough, but at some point they’re going to have to provide a demonstration; it hasn’t been forthcoming on the current three-city road trip to Seattle, Chicago and Milwaukee.
It’s true the Mariners and Brewers are rolling as hard and as fast as any team in baseball – the White Sox should, in theory, have been easy pickings – but the boldface bottom line is the Jays now trail the A.L. East-leading Baltimore Orioles by nine games.
They are also suddenly just two games over .500, after having been 14 games over break-even as recently as June 6.
The Jays also find themselves tied with the Cleveland Indians and trailing the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners in the race for the second AL wild card – which is a mixed blessing, as it would currently give its holder a one-game playoff in Oakland.
As the final game of the current trip awaits on Wednesday afternoon (a nine-game home stand follows), manager John Gibbons insisted his club’s mind-set is strong.
“I think the psyche’s fine, it’s just another game where we gave up a lot of runs early,” said Gibbons, who also observed that “I can’t remember the last game I was involved in where I’ve seen that many hard-hit balls all night long, I mean it was loud.”
So as they await the turnaround that everyone believes is inevitable – one senses they cling to that belief a little tighter every day – the Jays take comfort wherever they can find it.
“We’re in a little bit of a rut, but there’s six weeks left, it’s a long season so you’ve got to regroup,” Gibbons said.