Since the last time Texas and Toronto met, a full 40 percent of the Rangers’ 25-man roster has changed.
Since that ineradicably memorable meeting, a full 40 percent of the Blue Jays’ 25-man roster has changed, too.
David Price has moved on, as has Yovani Gallardo, and if you think those two don’t belong in the same sentence, think back to which pitcher had the other team’s number last season.
J.A. Happ and A.J. Griffin are in, and while their handedness and their groundball tendencies and their initials are opposites, their records (3-0, 2.76 and 3-0, 2.52) and their place among the league’s early surprises line up nicely, though it’s not as if they hadn’t done it in the past.
The Jays have replaced Mark Lowe with Drew Storen in set-up relief, and so far that hasn’t gone as well as the shift of Aaron Sanchez from the pen to the rotation, while Texas has been forced to elevate Tony Barnette on the heels of the injury to Keone Kela, whose absence in this series eliminates at least one interesting storyline.
No Chris Colabello (the most productive hitter in the teams’ October series) or Ben Revere, but Michael Saunders and Darwin Barney have given the Jays an early boost.
Shin-Soo Choo and Josh Hamilton out. Ian Desmond and Nomar Mazara in.
Until yesterday, the only time the Rangers had lost a Cole Hamels start in his last 16 times to take the ball was Game Five in Toronto on October 14, which ended one team’s season.
Nobody’s season is ending this week.
Marcus Stroman pitched yesterday, too, and so the Game Two and Game Five matchup doesn’t get restaged this week, and in fact Hamels and Stroman will be the only starters to miss the four-game Rangers-Jays set that kicks off tonight at Rogers Centre, which now has a real dirt infield cut into the artificial turf, and if that were the case in October, specifically on the 14th, particularly in the seventh inning, especially in the bottom of the frame . . . .
Speaking briefly of which, new year, new rosters, new meaning to this matchup: Is the response to what happened in that ineradicably memorable B7 a simple “Never mind”?
Regarding the flip: What’s past is prologue? Or is the focus these next four nights squarely and solely on playing good enough baseball to win an early May series against a solid team on the road, or at least come away with a split?
Flip the calendar?
Is all now forgotten, at least in a plausible deniability kind of way?
We will see.
Along with Cole and Marcus, and Kela and Colabello, we will watch.
And we will see.