Game 1: Friday, July 28th
Jays lose, 2-7
Losing pitcher: J.A. Happ
J.A. Happ started the game with a double to Yunel Escobar. Happ then struck out the next three, but with two outs in the 2nd, Martin Maldonado singled and Shane Robinson walked. Kaleb Cowart hit an RBI single, and Happ walked another to load the bases. Mike Trout walked to force in another run, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.
Parker Bridwell didn’t allow a baserunner for the first 3.2 innings. Leading off the 3rd, Troy Tulowitzki grounded out and went sprawling after running to first base. He’d rolled his ankle right before stepping on the bag, and left the game. He was replaced with Darwin Barney, and Ryan Goins slid over to shortstop. The first Angels batter of the 4th walked, and two singles brought in another run. Josh Donaldson walked with two outs in the bottom half as the first Jays baserunner of the game. Justin Smoak also singled in the inning, but nothing came of it. Bridwell allowed just two more hits: a 6th-inning Russell Martin single, and a leadoff double to Barney in the 8th, before he left the game.
In the 8th , Dominic Leone allowed a double, and Matt Dermody gave up an RBI single to the only batter he faced. The Blue Jays got on the board when Barney doubled and was driven in by Jose Bautista. Chris Smith allowed three runs in the 9th – back-to-back doubles to start, then a two-run C.J. Cron homer. Donaldson prevented another run by throwing Escobar out at the plate on a ground ball. Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the 9th with a home run. The Blue Jays had six hits and the Angels had eleven.
Francisco Liriano started the game with three consecutive perfect innings. With one out in the 4th, Mike Trout reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a Josh Donaldson throwing error. Liriano set down the next two batters, and the Blue Jays gave him the lead in the bottom of the inning. Donaldson and Justin Smoak started off with singles, and Donaldson scored on a throwing error when the shortstop threw a relay into the stands after a flyout.
In the 5th, Kendrys Morales led off with a walk, and Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins hit back-to-back doubles which drove in two more runs. The Angels tied things up in the 6th through four singles and a walk. Trout drove in the first run, and Andrelton Simmons the other two with a bases-loaded single. Toronto took the lead back in the bottom half, when Miguel Montero hit a two-run homer to put them up 5-3. It was Montero’s first home run as a Blue Jay, and his fifth of the season.
Joe Biagini and Joe Smith pitched the 7th and 8th innings respectively. Roberto Osuna entered with a two-run lead in the 9th. He struck out the first batter, then gave up a Kole Calhoun single, hit Martin Maldonado with a pitch, and allowed an RBI double to Ben Revere. A wild pitch by Osuna then let the tying run score. Cliff Pennington hit a sac fly that scored Revere and gave the Angels a 6-5 lead. The Blue Jays got two on (both walks) with one out in the bottom of the 9th, but Jose Bautista hit into a double play, ending the game.
Game 3: Sunday, July 30th
JAYS WIN!!! 11-10 (walkoff!)
Starting Pitcher: Cesar Valdez
Winning Pitcher: Matt Dermody
The Blue Jays trailed the entire game before making a legendary comeback in the 9th inning to walk off the final game of the series and avoid a sweep. Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer off Cesar Valdez in the 1st inning, before Ezequiel Carrera led off the bottom half with a home run. A leadoff single to Luis Valbuena in the 2nd was erased when Miguel Montero threw him out to end the inning.
In the 3rd, the Angels sent ten men to the plate, and the first six reached. A leadoff triple scored on a double. Valdez intentionally walked Mike Trout, then Pujols singled to drive in another run. Rob Refsnyder made a throwing error, which loaded the bases. Two more runs scored on an Andrelton Simmons double. Aaron Loup replaced Valdez, got an out, then allowed an RBI single. Toronto sent eight batters to the plate in their half of the inning, getting within three runs on three singles, a sac fly, and a groundout. Steve Pearce doubled off the centre field wall, but it had to be reviewed because at first it looked like a home run.
In the 5th, Ben Revere stole second but Montero’s throw was wide of the base and bounced into centre field, allowing Revere to get to third. He scored on a sac fly. The same thing happened with Shane Robinson in the 9th. The other Los Angeles run scored in the 6th when Pujols hit his second home run of the game.
Heading into the bottom of the 9th, the Jays were down 10-4 and hadn’t had a hit since the 3rd. Facing Brooks Pounders, Ryan Goins led off with a walk and Kevin Pillar hit a two-run homer. Refsnyder doubled, and Carrera singled. Russell Martin hit an infield single that scored Refsnyder, Justin Smoak grounded out, and Kendrys Morales walked to load the bases. Pearce came up to the plate, with the score 10-7, and hit his second grand slam in a week to put the Jays over the top and end the game.
With Troy Tulowitzki placed on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, the recently-acquired Rob Refsnyder was called up on Saturday. On the same day, Mike Bolsinger returned from the DL and Chris Smith was optioned back to Buffalo. Tulowitzki suffered that injury on the second anniversary of the trade that brought him to Toronto.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Rob Refsnyder is the first Blue Jays player born in South Korea.
- Justin Smoak tied his career high in hits on Sunday, with 108.
- Russell Martin became just the 5th Canadian in MLB history to play in 1,500 games.
- The seven-run final inning of Sunday’s game represents the biggest 9th-inning deficit (six runs) the Blue Jays have ever overcome to win.
- Steve Pearce is the first player in Blue Jays history to hit two walkoff grand slams.
- Pearce is the first player in MLB history to hit a walkoff grand slam twice in the same week (and only two others have done it twice in the same season).
- Between this and the last series, their last three wins came on walkoff home runs – the first time in team history that has happened.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Liriano/Pearce
Although they would go on to lose the game, Francisco Liriano had one of his best starts of the year. He allowed only one baserunner through his first 5.0 innings. In total, he allowed three runs over 6.0 innings, on five hits and one walk. He struck out four.
Steve Pearce was 3-for-12 with a walk, a home run and a double. He was responsible for the walkoff grand slam on Sunday, setting a whole host of records and providing what is sure to be one of the most memorable moments of the year.
Where We Are Now:
Last place in the AL East, 8 games back of New York
The bad news is, even the strongest members of the bullpen can give up a lead. Tulowitzki is hurt, now requiring backups for both shortstop and second base. They looked great in their last series, but this one proves they haven’t completely figured things out yet.
The good news is, Liriano had a great start and might be turning things around. This would either make him a valuable trade piece, or mean he’ll be back in form down the stretch.
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