The Toronto Blue Jays came into the series against the Boston Red Sox riding a wave of momentum in the clubhouse and enthusiasm in the city. 

Unfortunately, they hit a bit of a wall with two straight losses to their old American League East foes, falling 7-5 and 10-1.  If they can win Thursday night’s game, they still have a chance of recapturing that feeling heading into a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels.

That would be a welcome boost to a team that has been contemplating the possibility of challenging for a wild card spot and has therefore recently seen a surge of support in Toronto.

While it is never a good thing to lose two games to a team you are trying to catch, there are still some positives that the team can draw from these games.

Shaun Marcum didn’t pitch nearly as badly as his line or the result of the game would suggest in his 10-1 loss.  Marcum’s strength as a pitcher lies in his control. He doesn’t have the pure stuff to dominate and neither is he a fireballer, so where he fools batters is in picking the corners of the strike zone and changing up his pitches. 

The problem was that the umpire was calling such a limited strike zone that Marcum was forced to start throwing it down the middle after walking two and hitting a batter in the first inning. 

Now, since he doesn’t have the power like Buchholz to simply blow it by the batter, and he couldn’t dance around the strike zone due to the patience of the Boston lineup, he became quite hittable. 

It is, of course, a cop-out to blame the umpire, but Marcum has been a very strong pitcher this year and this outing shouldn’t suggest that his season is going to take a turn for the worse.

The expectations began to rise for rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia after he had a spectacular debut against the Tampa Bay Rays, going 4-for-5, with two home runs and a double.  Baseball is a humbling game, though, and he ended up going 0-for-7 in his next two games. 

What stood out from this was not his plate struggles, as that will happen with any rookie, but his willingness to learn from the other Jays catchers and pitchers and his devotion to helping the team.

It seemed that Arencibia pulled a page right out of Jose Molina’s playbook tonight when he caught a pitch from Marcum and immediately rifled it to Lyle Overbay at first.  He had noticed the Boston baserunner straying too far from first and with a very accurate throw almost succeeded in picking him off. 

It is smart plays like that, when successful, that can be game changers and swing the momentum to your team.  If he is to be the future of the Blue Jays, it is good to see that Arencibia can contribute with more than just his bat.

Finally, although Travis Snider hasn’t heated up at the plate like he had before going down with injury, there are signs of his recovery.  He went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, and three RBI in the first game against Boston.  Then in the second game, although going 0-for-4, he did manage to score the only run for the Jays in the ballgame. 

Snider hit the ball so hard directly at Mike Lowell that it ended up popping out of his glove and Snider reached first on an error.  Each time Travis Snider connects on a pitch, the ball seems to rocket off the bat like it was launched from a gun. Once he becomes more comfortable with big league pitching, that power will quickly convert into doubles and home runs.

The future is on display right now in the Blue Jays lineup, and it is showing a lot of promise.  It is looking like the fans are returning to the Rogers Centre, now that they know what they are cheering for.

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