To see the Blue Jays yesterday in Boston was to watch a team play the game the way it was meant to be played. Many teams and players these days are so focused on the long ball that they’ve neglected and in some cases even forgot how to manufacture runs by stealing bases, bunting runners over, or cutting down their swing with two strikes.
On Tuesday, Charlie Montoyo did to the Red Sox what teams have been doing to the Blue Jays for years. When Richard Urena failed to get a bunt down on his first two attempts, Montoyo had him bunt with two strikes and he succeeded in laying one down and moving the runners over. When Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was on 3rd base and Chris Sale decided to pitch with a full windup, Montoyo sent him and he easily stole home.
Terry Francona and his superior baseball IQ (some might just call it common sense baseball) was always taking advantage of the predictable John Gibbons who had little interest in small ball or guarding against it. In this day and age where too much importance is placed on the long ball, the Blue Jays will need to learn how to play Montoyo’s brand of baseball. That is to say, hit and runs, bunting, swiping bases. Which pretty much every young and athletic big league ball player (of which the Blue Jays have many) should be able to do in their sleep anyways.
More than anything, what Montoyo expects from his players is good fundamentals, and that includes playing solid defense. Something which Teoscar Hernandez failed to do yesterday when he dropped an easy fly-ball that should have been the final out of the 6th inning. If you can’t do something as simple as catch a routine fly-ball or lay down a bunt, the Blue Jays won’t hesitate to replace you with someone who can.
Gone are the days of the Blue Jays line-up consisting of elite power hitters like Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion. A ball club with such hitters could depend on the long-ball as often as they did and succeed. The 2019 Blue Jays don’t have that luxury. What they do have however is youth and talent…so why not let them use their speed and energy to manufacture runs the old fashioned way.
What I admire about Montoyo is that he doesn’t want a line-up of nine players who approach the game as if they’re all in a home run derby. He wants complete players who play the game the right way, and the Blue Jays will be so much better for this in the long run.