Game 1: Tuesday, June 19th
Jays lose, 4-11
Losing Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Their streak of seven consecutive home wins snapped, the Jays took a beating in the opener with Atlanta. They came close to scoring in the bottom of the 1st, with two men in scoring position and two outs, but Kevin Pillar made the third out of the inning on a deep fly ball to left-center field that sent Charlie Culberson careening off the wall to make the catch. After a quick 1st inning, Jaime Garcia allowed a two-out double that bounced over Teoscar Hernandez’s head in the 2nd. He then walked a pair, loading the bases for Johan Camargo, who hit a grand slam.
The Blue Jays’ first four hits off Mike Soroka were all doubles, three of which led off an inning, but only two scored. Luke Maile drove in Randal Grichuk with a groundout in the 2nd, then drove in Pillar with a single in the 4th. In the top of the 4th, Culberson had added to the Atlanta lead with a leadoff home run. Garcia then allowed a pair of singles, leaving the game with five runs allowed in 3-plus innings, five hits and three walks, two men on and nobody out. Danny Barnes retired three batters on four pitches to strand the runners.
The Atlanta hitters beat up on Barnes in the next inning, scoring three runs on three hits and a walk, and Joe Biagini had to be brought in for the final out. Despite a two-run double from Yangervis Solarte, it was pretty clear the Blue Jays weren’t going to catch up. Soroka didn’t make it out of the 5th, having allowed four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks. Biagini pitched a clean 6th inning despite a Freddie Freeman triple, and Preston Guilmet allowed a run on two hits before stranding the bases loaded in the 8th. Aaron Loup then allowed three doubles in 9th while striking out the side, adding another pair of runs for Atlanta.
Game 2: Wednesday, June 20th (Day game)
Jays win, 5-4
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Save: Ryan Tepera
The Blue Jays avoided a sweep by winning this early-afternoon game that was broadcast on Facebook. J.A. Happ pitched into the 9th inning, as he took the win. The Jays had taken a 2-0 lead thanks to a Kendrys Morales homer in the 1st inning, hit on his birthday (and the fourth time in his career he’s done so). Kurt Suzuki and Peter Bourjos hit solo homers in the 2nd and 3rd innings, respectively, to tie the game.
KMo’s birthday 🎁 to himself? A celebratory stroll around the bases! pic.twitter.com/S5xRkzBV84
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 20, 2018
Toronto retook the lead in the 4th when Anibal Sanchez walked a pair and Randal Grichuk doubled to score one, and Aledmys Diaz hit a sac fly to score the other. Sanchez avoided further damage in the 5th (after Yangervis Solarte and Morales reached with two outs) by getting Kevin Pillar to ground into a forceout on the first pitch. That was the last pitch of Sanchez’ start. Meanwhile, Happ retired 13 batters in a row before Charlie Culberson broke that streak with a two-out single in the 7th.
Question: Who leads all AL East sluggers in RBI this month?
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 20, 2018
Devon Travis led off the bottom half of that inning with a line-drive double, on which he was nearly tagged out at second base. He later came around to score on a single from Solarte. Happ, at 104 pitches, went out for the 9th inning, aiming for the team’s first complete game of the season. He got the first hitter to ground out, but then allowed back-to-back singles to Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis, and left the game. Ryan Tepera came in and allowed an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki that was deflected by Solarte at third. With two outs, Markakis scored on an infield single that Travis couldn’t field in time. With the tying run at second base, and the go-ahead run at first, a high fly-ball on the first pitch to Johan Camargo settled into Pillar’s glove to seal the win for the Jays.
Sam Gaviglio went on the paternity list before this series started, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was brought up to take his place.
Before this season, Luke Maile had 24 career RBI. As a backup catcher, he didn’t see much playing time, but that’s in 284 career at-bats. In this season alone, he’s already driven in 18 runs in 108 AB. His previous high in one season was 15, in 2016. Though his batting average is starting to come back down from the lofty .315 where it sat as recently as May 20th, he’s still bringing in runs. He’s batting .167 for the month of June, but still has 4 RBI (only one of which was a homer) in that time.
The bottom of the order has been an ongoing problem for Blue Jays’ pitching this year. In Tuesday’s game alone, the 7-, 8-, and 9-hitters for Atlanta went a collective 9-for-13, with nine runs driven in. In both games, the last man in the lineup homered (Johan Camargo in Game 1, Peter Bourjos in Game 2). So far this season, Blue Jays’ opponents have set a historically high pace for slugging from the 9-hitter. If the .471 mark holds for the rest of the season, it would be the highest since at least 1908.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- J.A. Happ is the only pitcher in MLB this year with four starts where he had eight or more strikeouts and no walks.
My favourite player(s) this series: Happ
I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but J.A. Happ has been really good. He’s the first pitcher to even make it into the 9th inning, and although he allowed four runs, he was doing really well until Ryan Tepera let the inherited runners score. He didn’t walk anybody and allowed six hits and struck out eight. He’s also one of the Blue Jays most likely to be traded mid-season, so let’s just appreciate the guy while he’s still here.
Where we are now:
3rd in the AL East, 16 games back of New York
After splitting this series, the team is on the road for a four-game series against the 39-35 Angels on the West Coast. Thursday (10 p.m.), Friday (10 p.m.) and Saturday (9 p.m.)’s games will all be late starts for Torontonians, with Sunday’s game beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern. The Jays will not see Shohei Ohtani in this series as either a hitter or a pitcher, as he was placed on the disabled list a few weeks ago and may need Tommy John surgery.
However, Marcus Stroman is ready to make his return from the DL, and is slated to take the mound Saturday night. Aaron Sanchez will start on Thursday, against Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs went 5 innings in his last start against the Jays, allowing six hits and three runs, including two homers.
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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!