By Steve Silverman
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Joe Girardi had seen enough Tuesday night.
The Yankees were getting rag-dolled by the Houston Astros, and that was humiliating enough. But when Carlos Gomez came up in the top of the sixth inning and flew out to center field, the Yankees’ manager did not like the Houston outfielder’s reaction to making an out.
Gomez threw his bat down in frustration and jogged to first before the ball was caught. Girardi, like many before him, did not like Gomez’s demonstration and he started screaming at him from the dugout, telling him to act more professionally.
Gomez, never one to take any criticism no matter the source, was yelling “shut up” at the Yankees’ dugout.
The feeling here is that if the Yankees were winning the game or at least competitive in it, there would have been no incident.
The feeling is that Girardi is feeling frustrated, and the frustration may continue. Not because of Gomez, the Houston Astros or even his own team. Girardi is likely to feel angry and upset between now and the end of the regular season because of the Toronto Blue Jays.
It looked great for the Yankees a couple of Fridays back when Carlos Beltran derailed Toronto with a ninth-inning home run that temporarily reversed the fortunes of both teams. However, as the days have been marked off the calendar, the Blue Jays have looked like a powerful engine.
This team has overwhelming star power with MVP candidate Josh Donaldson leading the way, along with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. They had that trio before the trade deadline, but the acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki has turned this team into perhaps the most dangerous club in baseball.
Tulo has not hit his best stride since joining the Blue Jays, and he hasn’t hit the ball the way he did with the Rockies. But he is a brilliant talent who is capable of carrying his team at any time. He had three hits on Tuesday night in the Blue Jays’ comeback win over Texas, and if he starts to pound the baseball, the Yankees could be in real trouble.
The Yankees are having an excellent year, having scored 587 runs entering Wednesday’s action. However, the Blue Jays have the No. 1 offense in all of baseball with 676 runs scored, and that’s a significant difference.
If the Blue Jays didn’t have solid pitching to go along with their relentless attack, it would give the Yankees and other American League teams hope for a downturn, but the acquisition of David Price gave the Jays the true stud they needed at the top of their rotation.
The Yankees used to get that from CC Sabathia, but it has been a long time since Sabathia went to the mound with confidence. He no longer overpowers lineups early and then uses his knowledge as well as his physical ability to make key pitches late in games.
The Yankees may never see that Sabathia again, but the Blue Jays get that from Price every fifth day. Mark Buehrle has never scared anybody, but he has been dependable in taking the Blue Jays deep into games. R.A. Dickey is a bit of a question mark, but the Blue Jays have outstanding bullpen depth. Liam Hendriks (0.94 WHIP), Brett Cecil (21 consecutive games without allowing a run) , LaTroy Hawkins (2.81 ERA) and Roberto Osuna (1.91 ERA, 63 strikeouts) keep them in games or close them out when the starting pitching is not doing its job.
This has been a wonderful season for the national pastime, and it has been particularly good in New York, where the Yankees still have an excellent chance to make the playoffs and the Mets are running away from the Nationals in the NL East.
Elsewhere, there’s something magical going on with the Cubs. The Pirates remain resurgent, the Cardinals are playing winning baseball every night, the Astros have written a wonderful script and the Royals have continued to build after last year’s postseason run to the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series.
Any one of those teams could have the kind of storybook finish all teams and their fans want. However, the best team going right now is north of the border, and the Blue Jays may be the team that makes the longest and best run in the postseason.
Yes, Girardi has agita. But its source is the Jays of Toronto — not some dingbat from Houston.