Game 1: Monday, April 9th
JAYS WIN!!! 7-1
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
The Blue Jays started the season series with a decisive win over their division rivals. In the 2nd, the Jays loaded the bases on two singles, a forceout, and a four-pitch Kevin Pillar walk. They left them loaded. Curtis Granderson led off the 3rd with a walk, and after a pair of strikeouts, Steve Pearce brought him in with his third home run in as many games. The Orioles got one run back when Manny Machado led off the bottom half with a homer.
Dylan Bundy faced the minimum over the next four innings (a leadoff single in the 6th was erased on a double play). J.A. Happ loaded the bases in the 5th on a single, a walk, and a hit batter, but got out of it when Adam Jones hit a dribbler in front of the plate, Russell Martin tagged home, and then Jones was hit in the back with the throw. It was called interference, and Jones was ruled out to end the inning.
The Jays were caught in a double play of their own in the 8th – with bases loaded and nobody out against Mychal Givens, Justin Smoak flew out to left. Aledmys Diaz, tagging from third, ran home and was thrown out easily. Still leading 2-1, they went to the 9th and loaded the bases with one out. After the Orioles brought in a new pitcher, Granderson walked to bring in a run, and Josh Donaldson blew the game open with a grand slam. Smoak singled and Randal Grichuk snapped an 0-for-26 streak with a double off the center-field wall. He and Smoak were stranded to end the bat-around inning.
EVERYONE IS SCORING. pic.twitter.com/kRBhLeF0xt
Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 10, 2018
I already wrote a more in-depth breakdown of this game, which you can read here. But for a quick summary, Aaron Sanchez pitched seven no-hit innings, while his teammates struggled to score. The Jays stranded six through the first seven innings, including getting the leadoff man aboard four times.
They got on the board in the top of the 8th, thanks to a Justin Smoak walk, a wild pitch, and a Yangervis Solarte single to right, which was thrown in poorly by the right fielder so Smoak scored on an error. Then Sanchez lost his no-hit bid on a Tim Beckham double, Beckham scored on another pair of hits and Sanchez loaded the bases, but got a double play to get out of it.
Game 3: Wednesday, April 11th
Jays lose, 3-5
Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Their lineup depleted by rest days for Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Devon Travis, Toronto took an early lead off Kevin Gausman with two hits and a walk in the 1st. Justin Smoak, hitting second for the first time in his career, reached on a forceout and scored on a Kevin Pillar single. Marco Estrada was strong through his first three innings, allowing only one baserunner – a two-out walk in the 3rd. The first Baltimore run was courtesy of back-to-back doubles from Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop to lead off the 4th. Schoop would go on to score, as would Jose Alvarez, who walked, before Estrada got out of the inning.
Estrada got into trouble again in the 5th, with another leadoff double, followed by a walk, a single (ruled as such after replay on a ball that had been called foul), and an RBI single from Schoop. With no outs and the bases loaded, Estrada was lifted from the game. Danny Barnes came in and fanned a pair, then got Chris Davis to fly out to escape the jam without any further damage done.
The Jays scored a run in each of the 5th and the 6th innings, the latter of which was an Aledmys Diaz home run. But the Orioles widened their lead with a run on three hits off John Axford in the 6th helped out by a pair of balls that infielders dropped. Axford didn’t seem fazed.
“No worries, bud”. pic.twitter.com/8Iws19eNDP
Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) April 12, 2018
Gausman left the game after the 6th, having allowed three runs on six hits and three walks, and Toronto mustered just one baserunner off the Orioles bullpen. Travis pinch-hit in the 9th but flew out. Estrada took the loss, having allowed four runs on six hits and three walks in four-plus innings of work. He struck out five.
Kendrys Morales pulled a hamstring early in Monday’s game. He was placed on the disabled list the next day, with left-handed reliever Tim Mayza called up to fill the roster spot. Morales had started the game at first base, with Justin Smoak as the DH. If Smoak had been put at first, the Jays would lose their DH, so instead they shuffled the defense, with Yangervis Solarte hit in Morales’ spot and playing third, and Josh Donaldson taking over at first.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher in MLB history to record 100 saves
- He also moved into a tie (with Billy Koch) for third place on the Blue Jays all-time saves list
My favourite player(s) this series: Happ/Sanchez/Barnes
In his third start of the year, J.A. Happ lasted six innings and allowed a single run on five hits. Three different times he had the composure to get himself out of a jam – in the first two innings, the first two runners reached, but both times he bounced back and he struck out three in a row. He struck out nine total, and only walked three.
Aaron Sanchez obviously had a remarkable performance with a no-hitter taken into the 8th, but what really impressed me was his ability to shut things down after loading the bases and allowing a run. He got a fly-ball out with two aboard, then intentionally walked Manny Machado and induced a double play. He struck out four, and allowed three hits and five walks (including the intentional one) over eight innings.
Danny Barnes pitched two clean innings in this series, appearing in Game 1 and Game 3. Both times he was the first reliever out of the pen. On Monday, he started with a strikeout and then allowed a pair of hits, but got out of the inning with a pair of flyouts. On Wednesday, the baserunners weren’t his own. He inherited the bases loaded in the 4th with nobody out, and struck out a pair and then got a flyout. His ERA is currently at 1.69 for the season, and he has yet to walk anybody.
Where we are now:
2nd place in the AL East, 2 games back of Boston
The Jays have won their third series in a row, and following the off day on Thursday will be in Cleveland over the weekend to wrap up their road trip.
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