There's no question that the promotions and game operations side of the organization brought their "A game" yesterday for the Blue Jays' home opener. There was so much new video content with such a fierce tone that it seemed as though the team were ready to skip past the regular season and take on all comers in the playoffs starting last night.
But the other side of building that much anticipation all at once is that when you don't come through immediately, it can have the opposite effect on the fans.
After last night's disappointing 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, our Twitter feed was unsurprisingly blown up with those expressing their "major concern" over the feasibility of Sergio Santos, immediately writing him off as just another example of the poor excuses for closers that the Jays have had since Tom Henke left town. Others spoke ominously of how this one game may well have cost the Jays their shot at the playoffs, and that we shouldn't forget how last year's Red Sox and Atlanta Braves missed the post-season by just one game.
And what about all that talk about a new era of Jays fans and a new feeling of optimism? The Jays built the expectations, and suddenly, just four measly games into the season, the queue to exit the bandwagon is backed up. Which is patently ridiculous.
There are 158 games left in the season. Even if the Blue Jays do manage to defy expectations and take a big step towards the next level, there will be 60 to 70 more losses to come, and some of them will be even more disappointing and uglier than last night's.
The Blame Game: There's no question that Sergio Santos had a terrible outing last night, and that he began overthrowing his pitches to try to blow the Red Sox out of the batters box. Which is probably not the best approach to dealing with that lineup. It was also his second straight blown save, so there's some understandable uneasiness with his performance.
In our preview piece about Santos, we wondered whether if Jays fans were ready for a pitcher who is still somewhat raw, and has some control issues. The piece was written after watching him send two pitches past Jeff Mathis to the backstop in a spring training game, which is no small feat. Santos is a power arm, and one that is not yet refined, so there will be walks and there will be pitches in the dirt and beyond. But there will also be plenty of strikeouts and baffled batters along the way. The question is whether if the positives will outweigh the negatives over the long run of a season, as they have in the past for Santos.
Santos might have had a little more room for error had the Jays' offense put up any sort of showing last night. When Scott Atchinson holds you to a single hit over three relief innings, you really haven't done yourself any favours. Among those feeble Jays bats, no one looked worse than José Bautista, who went 0-for-4, leaving four runners on base and hitting into a double play. We doubt, though, that anyone is looking at yesterday's game and pondering a move down the lineup for the team's most valuable player.
Accentuating the Positive: Henderson Alvarez had a tremendous outing, giving up just four hits and one walk in six innings against the solid Red Sox lineup...We won't pester you with our Colby Rasmus love. But offensively and defensively, he was the highlight of last night's game. Take that as you will...Both Kelly Johnson and Edwin Encarnacion continue to have good at bats. Johnson is making pitchers work as hard as anyone in the lineup, and EE is squaring it up and hitting the ball hard on a regular basis...Darren Oliver's two-strikeout inning of work was quick and effective, and Coco Cordero also had a nice inning in the eighth.
Today's a New Day: Kyle Drabek gets his first start of the season against Daniel Bard. It's a whole new ballgame!