DETROIT — It wasn’t supposed to end this way for the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays. Not after The Trade with the Miami Marlins. Not after acquiring R.A. Dickey and his magical knuckleball, in exchange for Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, two of the franchise’s prized top-three prospects. But after losing 7-3 to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon, and falling to 2-5 on the season — last place in the American League East, an insurmountable three games behind the Boston Red Sox — the Blue Jays knew their season was all but officially over. Off to their worst start since 2004, players and managers alike wondered where it all went so wrong.
“I remember Opening Day like it was last week,” said Dickey. “The emotion, the excitement, the expectations; it was amazing. I truly believed that this team was going to do something special. I’m sorry we let the fans down. I’m sorry I let the fans down.”
For manager John Gibbons, his return to the Toronto dugout, in the end, was bittersweet.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity, for the second chance. I just wish we could have done more with it,” Gibbons said. “The talent was here. We just couldn’t get it together, couldn’t get it going. It’ll keep me up at night, I promise you that.”
Jose Bautista, the unequivocal leader of the Blue Jays, spoke with purpose after the team’s third loss in four games, in what was a quiet visitor’s clubhouse at Comerica Park.
“The lesson to be learned is that you can never trust Las Vegas. You can’t be anointed champions. You can’t assume you’re going to make the playoffs. You have to play the games. You have to win the games. You can’t dig yourself a hole as big as we have. There are far too many good teams in this league. Except the Astros.”
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, they play Houston only seven times this season. At this point, they’d have to run the table against the Astros, and get some help, in order to salvage what was supposed to be a dream 2013 season.
Bench coach DeMarlo Hale, another new face in Toronto this year, pulled no punches: “I left the Orioles for this shit.”
The question in Toronto over the next five and a half months will be: What’s next? Someone will have to be held accountable — will it be general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who threw all of his chips on the table in one daring offseason? Or Paul Beeston, who asked for and received from the suits at Rogers Communications over $35 million to spend on payroll? Both?
On what should have been a celebratory afternoon, after Melky Cabrera picked up hit number 1,000 of his illustrious career, Cabrera and his teammates were left wondering, “What if …”
“If we’d come out and played the way we’re capable of playing,” said Jose Reyes, “we’d be five-and-two, or probably six-and-one, and a lock for the playoffs. I don’t know what to say.”
Nobody, it seems, does, as the Blue Jays, and their fans, continue to search for answers.
Image credit: Paul Sancya/The Associated Press
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