Blue Jays 2012: Cheers and Jeers from Opening Series

Tim MackayCorrespondent IApril 8, 2012

Blue Jays 2012: Cheers and Jeers from Opening Series

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    The Blue Jays season is underway with a 2-1 series win over the Cleveland Indians this weekend.

    It was certainly a memorable opening weekend with Thursday's record-setting 16-inning epic, followed by two tight games on Saturday and Sunday. 

    After the Jays' hot spring training, there were tempered, yet exciting, predictions for the young team.

    Here's a look at what has gone right and wrong for Toronto after three games: 

Cheer: The Bullpen

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    There's no denying it. 

    The Jays bullpen was absolutely spectacular this weekend. 

    Between the seven relievers on the Jays roster they ate up 18 innings and allowed two runs.

    While it certainly was a little unsettling watching Sergio Santos blow a save in his first opportunity, the Jays still won two games in extra innings. 

    Teams don't win games in extra innings without superb relief pitching. 

    It's a major positive to start the season. 

Jeer: Yunel Escobar

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    It's only been three games but Yunel Escobar has struggled in the leadoff position.

    I'm not saying it's time for Kelly Johnson to move into the one-spot—see "Cheer No. 2"—but Escobar hasn't walked once and struck out five times on the weekend.

    For a player known for his plate discipline, Yunel is off to a rough start. 

    John Farrell and Jays fans should be hoping Escobar finds his discipline before too long. 

Cheer: Kelly Johnson

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    Without getting too complicated, Johnson looked simply impressive in the Jays first series. 

    KJ was the sparkplug that the Jays needed: His .526 OBP is a good sign in case Escobar continues to struggle.

    His ninth-inning home run on Saturday should have been a game-winner if not for Sergio Santos' blown save and he was spectacular defensively. 

    Johnson did everything a productive and effective baseball player should do this weekend. 

Jeer: Colby Rasmus

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    Rasmus is a much more worrying case than Escobar. 

    While it's almost a certainty that Yunel will find his stroke and regain his plate discipline, it's no guarantee that Rasmus will recover.

    Wherever you're from, one hit in 15 at-bats isn't a good thing. 

    Beyond his struggles at the plate, he nearly cost the Jays the Thursday's game after flubbing on Travis Hafner's single to center in the bottom of the ninth. 

Cheer: Clutch Hitting

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    The Jays have done an excellent job of hitting when it matters. 

    From J.P. Arencibia's 16th-inning bomb on Thursday to Brett Lawrie and Rajai Davis' two-run singles in the seventh and 12th on Saturday, the Jays have shown an ability to get the job done. 

    There's something to be said for clutch hitting and it goes miles towards building the confidence and new-found swagger the young Toronto squad possesses. 

Jeer: Inconsistent Hitting

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    While the Jays have been excellent in hitting under pressure, it would be nice to see them develop some consistency in the early innings. 

    Through three games the Jays have scored only three runs before the seventh inning. 

    A .199 team batting average certainly wasn't what Jays fans were expecting coming out of spring training, and their 9.7 strikeouts per game is second only to the winless Red Sox

    The offense, seen as a clear strong point for the Jays, needs to make a turnaround.