Series Sum-Up: at Boston, July 17-20

Game 1: Monday, July 17
JAYS WIN!!! 4-3
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Winning Pitcher: Ryan Tepera
Save: Roberto Osuna


Marcus Stroman held the Red Sox scoreless for six innings while the Jays gave him an early lead. Kendrys Morales plated Russell Martin and Justin Smoak with a double in the 1st off Eduardo Rodriguez. In the 2nd, Steve Pearce hit a leadoff home run over the Green Monster. That homer, a towering 434-footer, was the first of Pearce’s career at Fenway. He’d hit a foul ball roughly the same distance on the first pitch of the at-bat.


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Stroman gave up two hits on his first time through the batting order, both in the 2nd – though one was erased with a double play. The next Red Sox hit was with one out in the 5th, but Stroman stranded a pair. The Jays got three hits and three walks during the rest of Rodriguez’s outing, but no more runs.


In the 7th, Stroman gave up three runs, all unearned, which tied the game. Andrew Benintendi hit a one-out double, then Jackie Bradley Jr. reached on a missed catch error charged to Stroman. After Christian Vazquez walked to load the bases, Brock Holt hit a sac fly and Mookie Betts scored Bradley with a single. Dominic Leone came in with two out and two on base. Dustin Pedroia doubled to centre field and Vazquez scored, but Kevin Pillar played the ball perfectly and relayed it to Troy Tulowitzki who threw to Martin to catch Betts at the plate. That ended the inning and prevented Boston from taking the lead.



Pearce broke the tie in the 8th with his second RBI of the night – a one-out single with runners on first and third. Ryan Tepera got one strikeout in a perfect inning, then Roberto Osuna did the same in the 9th to pick up his 23rd save of the year, and 22nd in a row.


Game 2: Tuesday, July 18
Jays lose, 4-5 (15 innings)
Starting Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Losing Pitcher: Mike Bolsinger


This marathon game started an hour late due to rain and lasted five hours, ending after 1 a.m. local time. J.A. Happ worked around a walk and a pair of singles through 3 innings before the first run of the game scored on a Chris Young solo homer in the 4th. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays hitters stranded a leadoff double and a walk in the 1st inning, followed by leaving the bases loaded (with one out) in the 2nd. They broke out in the 5th, scoring a trio of runs to take the lead. Jose Bautista led off with a double, Russell Martin walked, and Justin Smoak plated Bautista with a double of his own. Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki then hit back-to-back RBI singles.


Dustin Pedroia hit a leadoff home run in the 6th, then Happ’s night was over after he walked Hanley Ramirez. He’d allowed two earned runs in 5.0+ innings on five hits and two walks. Joe Biagini worked around a one-out single, striking out three to strand a pair. Pedroia drove in the tying run in the 7th with a double off Jeff Beliveau. Things looked promising with two Jays singles to start the top of the 8th, but Kevin Pillar grounded into a double play on which Tulowitzki didn’t score from third. Ryan Goins then struck out.


Josh Donaldson was thrown out stealing a base in the 9th, and the combined efforts of Aaron Loup and Danny Barnes out of the bullpen sent it to extras. Loup hit a batter in the 10th but the infield turned a double play. Steve Pearce led off the 11th with a double, and scored when Goins hit a sac fly. Bautista was intentionally walked to put two on with one out, but Martin hit into a double play.



In the bottom of the inning, Boston tied it again, which handed Roberto Osuna his first blown save since April. After a leadoff Jackie Bradley single, Sandy Leon popped a bunt that went over Donaldson’s head and resulted in two men on and no outs. Osuna next got a pair of strikeouts, but then Bradley scored on a Mookie Betts single to right. Like the night before, the Jays preserved the tie and made a crucial third out on the basepaths; Bautista threw out the pinch-runner Xander Bogaerts at third base. Donaldson appeared to hurt his hand on the play, but he stayed in the game.


In the 13th, Tulowitzki lined a hit off the Green Monster, but Benintendi pretended to retrieve the ball and Tulo fell for it, staying put at first rather than going for second. Then he tried to steal second, but was thrown out as Pearce struck out swinging. Mike Bolsinger had a four-strikeout inning in the bottom half after Bradley reached on a dropped third strike. He then set down the side in order before allowing a one-out home run to Hanley Ramirez in the 15th inning. Boston had thirteen hits, Toronto had fifteen.


Game 3: Wednesday, July 19
Jays lose, 1-5
Losing Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez


This was the game of double plays – each team hit into three. Toronto turned one in the 1st, which eliminated a leadoff single. Aaron Sanchez allowed a double and a single to start the 2nd, then got another, albeit unconventional, double play. Justin Smoak fielded the ground ball from Christian Vazquez and stepped on first base for the first out, then threw to the catcher Miguel Montero. Montero and Josh Donaldson combined to tag out Chris Young in a rundown between home and third.



Unfortunately for Sanchez, the inning wasn’t over, because a walk and a single later there were two on the board for the Red Sox. Donaldson then made a fielding error, which allowed Mookie Betts to reach, and Sanchez issued another walk to load the bases. Dustin Pedroia then singled to increase the lead to 4-0. Betts walked in the 4th, then stole second base. Pedroia hit a slow rolling ball which went under Troy Tulowitzki’s hand – Betts, running to third, made the turn and came in to score.


The Blue Jays managed only three hits in 6.2 innings against Drew Pomeranz. They got two walks in the 2nd, but hit into a double play. Two singles started off the 3rd, and one was erased on a double play. Their lone run came in the 5th, and was the result of a walk, a Dustin Pedroia fielding error, and a sac fly. The third hit off Pomeranz was in the 6th, and was also erased on a double play.


Cesar Valdez finished the game on the mound for the Blue Jays. He pitched four scoreless innings with five strikeouts. After a single to the first batter he faced (who then became yet another double play victim), Valdez didn’t allow another baserunner.


Game 4: Thursday, July 20 (day game)
JAYS WIN!! 8-6
Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Winning Pitcher: Dominic Leone
Save: Roberto Osuna


Back-to-back doubles to Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson put the Jays on the board in the 1st. Boston came back in a hurry with consecutive doubles of their own in the 2nd, then Ezequiel Carrera threw to the wrong base and a single for Deven Marrero instead resulted in men at second and third. Mookie Betts hit a two-run single, Chris Young walked, and Liriano left the game.


Toronto reclaimed their lead in the 3rd when Doug Fister walked the bases loaded with two out, and a pair scored when the second baseman lost a Steve Pearce pop-up in the sun. Carrera walked, loading the bases again, and Ryan Goins singled to drive in two more. Justin Smoak hit a leadoff home run in the 5th, then drove in another run the next inning with a single.



On the defensive side of things, Dominic Leone went 2.1 hitless innings with four strikeouts and Russell Martin threw Betts out trying to steal second. Jose Bautista made a fantastic diving catch for the second out of the 6th. Joe Biagini threw two scoreless innings before Danny Barnes struggled in the 7th. Barnes allowed a single and a walk, then Dustin Pedroia hit a three-run homer to make it a one-run game. Ryan Tepera took over from Barnes, and threw a clean 8th as well. Smoak led off the 9th with another home run, his 26th of the season. That gave Roberto Osuna a two-run lead when he came in to get the save, which he did on a groundout and two strikeouts.


Overall Notes:

Lucas Harrell was designated for assignment prior to the start of this series, with Dominic Leone being called up to take his spot. After Mike Bolsinger’s outing on Tuesday, he was placed on the disabled list with knee inflammation. Cesar Valdez came up in the corresponding move.


Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • The Blue Jays became the first MLB team this season to hit into 100 double plays.
  • Roberto Osuna’s streak of consecutive saves came to an end Tuesday, but he had reached 22 in a row, making it the fourth-longest streak of its kind in team history.
  • Mike Bolsinger became the second pitcher in team history to throw a four-strikeout inning, which ties the major-league record. The other Blue Jay to do it was Steve Delabar in 2012.


My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Smoak/Valdez/Stroman*

Justin Smoak was 4-for-15 with a double and two home runs. He also walked five times, scored four times, and drove in four. His two solo home runs were the difference in Game 4. He also participated in five double plays in this series, and had the fielding instincts to throw home in Game 2 in order to prevent a run.


Cesar Valdez made his second appearance for the Jays this season, and it couldn’t have been more different from his first. Last time (June 6th in Texas) he allowed four runs, two earned, on four hits over 3.1 innings. This time he threw four scoreless innings of one-hit ball, with five strikeouts. He may have been pitching with a four-run deficit, but Valdez made it seem like the Jays were still in the game.


Marcus Stroman’s three runs were unearned, on an error he made, so they really were his responsibility. However, I want to bring attention to how dominant he was through his first six innings (hence the asterisk). Over that span he allowed just three hits, two walks, and no runs. Three of his innings (1, 3, and 6) were three-up-three down, and he ended five innings with a strikeout. In total, he allowed five hits and three walks over 6.2 innings. Not a bad outing at all, even if he didn’t get the win.


Where We Are Now:
Last in the AL East, 9 games back of Boston


The bad news is, Sanchez and Liriano are both still struggling. The offense is still inconsistent – they didn’t even face Boston’s best starters, and still dropped two games out of four. Things don’t exactly get easy from here, as they’re off to face the Cleveland team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year.

The good news is, they split the series against the team leading their division! People are hitting homers! Justin Smoak is showing no signs of post-ASG regression!


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