The long-awaited conclusion to the abbreviated series in mid-April has finally arrived. But at what cost? Toronto allowed 24 runs, used nine different relievers to pitch 11 1/3 innings over two games, and players got injured: Yangervis Solarte banged up his face making a slide on the wet dirt coated in quick-dry, Steve Pearce pulled his back and was placed on the disabled list between the two games (I didn’t even know that was allowed), and Aledmys Diaz bent his wrist awkwardly while making a tag in Game 1. At least they won the series, though!
Game 1: Thursday, May 3rd (Afternoon game)
JAYS WIN!!!! 13-11 (11 innings)
Starting Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Winning Pitcher: Tim Mayza
The double-header, made necessary by rain, was delayed, by rain, for nearly two hours. Things finally got underway around 3:00. Russell Martin put the Blue Jays on the board with a two-run homer in the 2nd. It was his fourth home run the season. In the 4th, Toronto added on three more runs to make things 5-0 against Carlos Carrasco. Josh Donaldson hit an RBI double, and Yangervis Solarte singled to drive in a pair.
That lead evaporated all at once as Cleveland send 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning, and scored seven runs on seven hits, two walks, and a dropped third strike. Jaime Garcia left the game with one out, after a three-run Francisco Lindor home run, but the carnage didn’t end there. Danny Barnes came in and faced four batters – two singled, and two walked, scoring another run. The only out he got was a caught stealing. John Axford followed, and needed just one pitch to finally end the inning. Carrasco left the game with one out and one on in the 6th, and Donaldson tied the game by blasting the first pitch from reliever Nick Goody deep to center field, for his fourth home run of the year.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 3, 2018
In each of the next two innings, Toronto scored again, taking a 9-7 lead. Kevin Pillar scored in the 7th (driven in by a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. single, his third hit of the game) and drove in the run in the 8th. In the bottom of the 8th, Lindor homered again off Ryan Tepera, making it a one-run game. Rajai Davis then reached on an infield single but Tepera successfully picked him off. Tepera walked Jose Ramirez, and Michael Brantley laced a ball down the right-field line just past Solarte, Teoscar Hernandez threw to second base instead of home and Brantley was tagged out trying to take third. The inning was over, but Ramirez had scored and the game was tied.
In the 9th the Blue Jays stranded a pair of walks, then Seung-Hwan Oh got three up, three down to send the game to extra innings. Solarte was thrown out trying to stretch a double in the 10th, and Tyler Naquin did the same thing in the bottom half. Despite an error and a hit-by-pitch, Toronto couldn’t bring in a run that inning. Things finally fell into place for them in the 11th, when Tyler Olsen walked pinch-hitter Luke Maile with two out. Donaldson doubled, and Hernandez walked to load the bases. That set the table for the first grand slam of Solarte’s career, belted into the left-field porch.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 4, 2018
Roberto Osuna allowed two runs with one out while trying to close out the game, thanks to a hit batter, a double, and a two-run single from Edwin Encarnacion, but the Cleveland comeback was too late. Osuna eventually shut things down with a three-pitch strikeout and a first-pitch lineout to centre.
Game 2: Thursday, May 3rd (Night game)
Jays lose, 4-13
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Both teams went quietly through the first two innings, with leadoff hits in the 2nd. The Jays’ was a Yangervis Solarte home run; the Cleveland team’s, a single from Michael Brantley. Joe Biagini dispatched two hitters on six straight strikes in the bottom of the 2nd, and did the same with the first batter in the 3rd. Then after a single and a wild pitch, Cleveland scored their first run of the game on an RBI single from Francisco Lindor.
Josh Donaldson led off the 4th with a home run, but Cleveland countered with a two-hit inning that led to Tyler Naquin scoring the tying run. Then the wheels really came off for Toronto’s pitching staff, as Biagini face five batters and four of them reached, Jose Ramirez hit a two-run homer, and the other three hit singles. Biagini was lifted in favour of Luis Santos, who loaded the bases with a walk, forced in a run with another walk, then gave up a bases-clearing double to Erik Gonzalez, the number-nine hitter. Following that, another double scored Gonzalez, another walk, a double and a sac fly scored another run, and the inning mercifully ended, thirteen batters, nine runs and seven hits later. Six of the runs were charged to Biagini.
Santos stayed in the game, pitching a one-run, two-hit 6th. Carlos Ramirez loaded the bases on walks in the 7th and a run scored on a wild pitch. The Cleveland starter, Adam Plutko, was making his major-league debut and took home the win after 7 1/3 innings pitched with three runs allowed. Plutko didn’t walk anybody, but gave up six hits, all of which were for extra bases. All three runs were homers (the final one was by Aledmys Diaz in the 8th).
Toronto also scored a run in the 9th when they hit two singles off Jeff Beliveau to start the inning, and one scored on a groundout. Kevin Pillar hit one of the singles, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Beliveau then walked a pair, but the Jays stranded the bases loaded. They had eight hits, which was exactly half the number their opponents had.
Josh Donaldson was activated in time for the double-header, as Justin Smoak was placed on the paternity list and Gift Ngoepe was sent down to Buffalo. Tim Mayza was called up, and outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. was brought up as well.
Steve Pearce was put on the DL in between games, having left Game 1 after an awkward swing in his 5th-inning at-bat. Joe Biagini was called up to start Game 2, Danny Barnes was optioned to Buffalo, and Luis Santos’ contract was purchased, and he arrived to pitch in Game 2. Ngoepe was then designated for assignment. More moves are expected to be made before the next series.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Josh Donaldson and Yangervis Solarte hit home runs in both games. It was the first time in Blue Jays history that a pair of teammates each homered in both games of a double-header.
- Solarte also set a new franchise record for hits in a double-header, with eight. The previous record of seven was set by Paul Molitor in 1995.
- These games also represented the first time in MLB history that a team allowed 7 or more runs in one inning in both games of a double-header. Cleveland scored 7 in the 4th in Game 1, and 9 in the 5th in Game 2.
- Including a 1 hour, 53-minute rain delay before the games began, this double-header is the longest in American League history. Game 1 was 4:47, with Game 2 clocking in at a much more reasonable 3:31.
We have made history tonight!
This is the longest doubleheader, by time, including delays, in American League history! We are currently at 10:18.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) May 4, 2018
Heroes of the Double-Header: Donaldson/Solarte
Josh Donaldson had only played in two games on his minor-league rehab assignment, but he wasted no time in getting back to full speed. He hit a home run in each his first games back, going 3-for-7 in Game 1 with a homer and two doubles, and three runs driven in. He tied the game in dramatic fashion when the Jays were down by two, and doubled in the 11th to keep the inning alive. In Game 2, he acted as the designated hitter, and went 1-for-4 with a home run. It’s good to have him back.
Yangervis Solarte got off to a rough start, taking a faceplant in the 3rd which bloodied his lip and nose on an awkward slide into third base. He played the rest of the night with a bandage on his upper lip, and it didn’t seem to hinder him at all. In seven plate appearances in Game 1, he singled, doubled, singled in a pair of runs, grounded out, walked, singled (and was then thrown out trying for extra bases), and hit a grand slam. In Game 2, he homered, doubled, struck out, and singled and scored. Combined for the day, he was 8-for-10 with a walk, two doubles, two home runs, four runs scored, and seven RBI. He and Donaldson also set a few team records (see above).
8 hits in a doubleheader is a new franchise record. pic.twitter.com/cMXKp1u4Pq
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 4, 2018
Where we are now:
Third in the AL East, 4.5 games back of Boston.
No doubt exhausted, the Jays head to Florida where they’ll take on the Rays in a three-game weekend series.
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