John Gibbons has never been a big proponent of small ball…aka a fundamentally sound and often neglected approach to generating offense.
These Blue Jays have talent, but when it comes to offense, at least on paper, they don’t come close to matching what the Yankees have. Unlike past years when Toronto relied on the long ball to generate so much of their offense, today’s team will need to take advantage of the little things, like stealing bases or bunting the runner over.
We got a glimpse yesterday of a new and aggressive approach applied by the Blue Jays when Curtis Granderson attempted to steal 2nd base with one out in the bottom of the 7th and then when Kevin Pillar swiped three bags in a single inning. These Blue Jays won’t be able to out-slug a team like the Yankees. The days of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion hitting in the heart of Toronto’s line-up are long gone. Today’s version of the Blue Jays will need to evolve and move away from the power first approach that the club relied so heavily on in recent years.
Pillar didn’t just steal three bases in one inning against New York, he made life extremely uncomfortable for Dellin Betances and took him off his game.
Pitchers have all the confidence in the world when there’s nobody on base. That all changes however when someone like Pillar gets on and starts bouncing off the base. This goes back to the Blue Jays using every means available to generate offense. For too long now the Blue Jays (and unfortunately much of baseball) have neglected the stolen base, bunts, hit and runs, sacrifice flies, and hitting to the opposite field. Based on how they played yesterday against the Yankees, it looks as if the Blue Jays are beginning to get back to these fundamentals.
Toronto needed a win badly yesterday. More importantly, they needed a win that wasn’t entirely accomplished via the home run.