When the Jays got to the bottom of the 9th with a three-run lead, and Roberto Osuna was the pitcher, I bet no one expected the tying run to come to the plate in the form of Xander Bogaerts. The Boston shortstop was on an MLB-leading 26-game hit streak, but that (and the game) came to an end when Osuna struck him out.
Let’s back up to the start of the game. The Blue Jays took an early lead against David Price with a two-run Edwin Encarnacion homer in the 1st. They stranded one in the 2nd and two in the 3rd, then scored again after Devon Travis reached on an error. In the 8th inning, Travis homered (his first of the year!) with a two-run shot over the Green Monster on the 11th pitch of an at-bat against Koji Uehara. Price earned the loss.
R.A. Dickey was incredible, as he only allowed one run (unearned, scored on a passed ball) in the 1st. He also no-hit the Sox for five innings, before a David Ortiz double in the 6th. Dickey only allowed one more hit after that and walked five. As a matter of fact, both the Red Sox runs were the result of leadoff walks – the Mookie Betts run in the 1st, and a Bogaerts walk issued by Joe Biagini in the 8th. Osuna gave up two singles in the 9th, but both were stranded.
Game 2: Saturday, June 4th
Jays lose, 4-6
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
They say you can watch baseball your entire life and still see something you’ve never seen before. I believe ‘two runs scoring on a strikeout’ would fall under that category for many fans. With two outs in the top of the 5th, Ryan Goins singled, and Jose Bautista walked. With Michael Saunders at the plate, a passed ball by catcher Ryan Hanigan allowed the runners to advance. Saunders then struck out swinging, but Hanigan dropped the ball and it rolled away, allowing Saunders to safely reach first, and both Goins and Bautista to come in to score. The bizarre moment was illustrated perfectly here by Twitter user Ed Chee:
— Ed Chee (@cheechoo98) June 5, 2016
That unusual play was probably the highlight of the game for the Jays, as they drew to within a run of the Red Sox. They would know better than any team how tricky catching a knuckleball can be, and took advantage of it. Each of the three runs they scored off five innings of Steven Wright were related to a passed ball. In the 4th, Saunders had singled and advanced to second on an Encarnacion walk, then to third on a passed ball and Justin Smoak drove him in. In the 6th, Devon Travis had a leadoff walk, then advanced on a Matt Barnes wild pitch, stole third base, and came in to score on a Kevin Pillar groundout.
Toronto only had four hits and six walks, while the Red Sox tagged Marcus Stroman for six runs on nine hits and five walks over the course of 5.2 innings.
Game 3: Sunday, June 5th
JAYS WIN! 5-4
Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Oh, Marco. The poor guy seems destined to never throw a no-hitter. This is the third time he’s come incredibly close in his time with the Blue Jays, and each time it’s been dashed in dramatic fashion. This time, a solo homer in the 8th inning off the bat of Chris Young ended both his no-hit bid and his potential for a shutout. He still picked up the win, however, after 8.0+ innings of two-hit ball, two earned runs (the solo homer and a leadoff double in the 9th, which Roberto Osuna allowed to score) three walks and five strikeouts. Prior to the home run, he’d retired the last nineteen batters in order. Osuna gave up an uncharacteristic two runs on four hits (two doubles and two singles) in the 9th, which resulted in that inning being much more tense than anyone could have predicted.
Speaking of home runs, the Blue Jays had four, the only four hits they got. Three – from Jose Bautista to lead off the game, from Darwin Barney in the 3rd, and Russell Martin in the 6th – were of the solo variety, while an Edwin Encarnacion drive in the 3rd also plated a Josh Donaldson walk. The Jays also had four times, including two from Barney, which resulted in him being 1-for-1 with a homer, RBI, run scored, and two walks.
Josh Donaldson sat out on Saturday because of an injury to his thumb the day before. He was the designated hitter on Sunday, with Matt Dominguez being called up to play third.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Estrada became the first pitcher in Blue Jays history to go eight straight starts with 5 or fewer hits in 6 or more innings
My favourite player this series: Estrada (and it’s not even close)
All that can be said about Marco Estrada is ‘wow’. He’s someone who was in the bullpen at the start of last season, and from whom a lot of regression was expected leading into this year. So to no-hit the leading offense in baseball for 7.1 innings is nothing short of magical. He’s first in the AL in opponent’s batting average, opponent’s OBP, second in WHIP and fourth in ERA. Take a moment to consider all the dominant pitchers in the league, and where he ranks in comparison to them. (Yes, he’s ranked higher than David Price in every category, and the Blue Jays paid half as much to keep him).
As if his pitching performance weren’t enough reason to love him, I came across an article where he speaks about his childhood, growing up with his single mom in a poorer area of Los Angeles. He speaks about how he came to love baseball, and the respect he has for his mom and how hard she worked to support him, and to keep him out of trouble. Definitely worth a read if you want to know more about Estrada the person.
Where we are now:
3rd place in the division, 2.5 games back of Baltimore/Boston
The bad news is, Tulo and Cecil are still hurt, Donaldson’s thumb issue is day-to-day, and even Osuna isn’t infallible. Plus, after his dominance early in the season, Marcus Stroman appears to be regressing somewhat.
But the good news is, winning four consecutive series against division rivals shows they can continue to keep pace in this division. Also Marco Estrada plays for this team.
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