The Bluejays have a number of injuries and inconsistencies of late, but Toronto’s second baseman Yukihiro Ishikawa is one of the more impressive players in the major because of his effort, and his uniqueness.
“He’s a pretty tough and determine player, like most players coming from Japan. He takes care of himself and does the things he needs to do. He doesn’t have the ability of some other guys but he makes the most of what he has,” said Shi Davidi of Comcast Sportsnet in Toronto.
One of those aforementioned injured players is third baseman Brett Lawrie. Lawrie’s back has been a bother of late, and the team has had to shift players around the infield to compensate for the injury.
“It was one of the things where hitting the ground was too much for him to bear, and they want to avoid the DL, but you never know. Backs can be tricky, and the Jays have their fingers crossed,” said Davidi.
In addition, first baseman Adam Lind has been hurt for most of the season, and Toronto’s start outfielder Jose Bautista has had to fill in at the position. Lind was hitting .320 while healthy, but has played just 61 games.
“Adam Lind is going on a rehab assignment tomorrow. They’re hoping he’s ready to go next weekend when they hit Seattle for a road trip,” said Davidi.
With all that said, the most critical injury Toronto has sustained is that of Edwin Encarnacion.
“As for Encarnacion, it’s going much slower. They don’t really have a timeline for him. He’s started running on a treadmill but that’s about it,” Davidi explained.
That injury is so huge, in fact, that if Encarnacion doesn’t return before or at the start of the postseason, the Bluejays’ playoff hopes and chances are severely reduced.
Piling onto the injury issues for the Jays is their inconsistent pitching situation. While starter Mark Buehrle started the season red hot at 10-1, the struggling right-hander is now just 11-8. Momentum is something Toronto just doesn’t have at the moment.
“With Mark Buehrle, he kind of is what he is. He just goes out there and gives you what he’s got. If he doesn’t get groundballs here and there it doesn’t go as well, but they need to throw him out there and hope for consistency,” said Davidi.
Despite all of the issues and downturn of late, Bluejays fans are clearly just happy that their desire for a competitive team has been satisfied, at least to this point.
“The hype for this series—even hysteria, I would say—is as big as the playoffs in 1993 if you can believe it,” said Davidi. “All of this hyperbole was just everywhere. I think people here have also forgotten how to ride out a pennant race. The crowd was good—about 35,000.”