Series Sum-up: at Chicago (AL), July 31-August 2


Game 1: Monday, July 31
Jays lose, 6-7 (walkoff)
Starting Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Losing Pitcher: Roberto Osuna (blown save)


Josh Donaldson opened the scoring with a two-out solo home run off James Shields in the 1st. Marco Estrada started off strong, using six pitches to mow down the first three White Sox he faced. He worked around a leadoff walk in the 2nd, and the Jays added to their lead in the 4th with a pair of home runs. Russell Martin and Justin Smoak both went deep; then they loaded the bases with a single and two walks, before stranding them loaded.


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Estrada had a perfect 3rd, before making a fielding error which allowed Jose Abreu to reach. Estrada got out of it, then allowed his first hits of the game in the 5th. Both were singles, and both were stranded after he stuck out Leury Garcia. In the top of the 6th, the Jays loaded the bases with two outs on a trio of singles before Darwin Barney hit a blooper to right field. Outfielder Willy Garcia came in to catch it and collided with second baseman Joan Moncada – Garcia caught the ball while sliding and Moncada, in an attempt to leap over Garcia, hit him in the side of the head with a knee. Both left the game, Moncada on a stretcher and Garcia under his own power. Because the ball rolled out of Garcia’s glove after the collision, it was ruled a non-catch, Barney was awarded a double, and three runs came in to score.


In the 7th, Estrada allowed his first run of the game on a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly. Both the runner who scored (Yolmer Sanchez) and the hitter who drove him in (Alen Hanson) had entered the game as replacements for the injured players. Joe Biagini began the 8th, allowing three runs on a walk, a double, and a Matt Davidson homer. Ryan Tepera then came in with one out and allowed a solo homer to Sanchez, which reduced the Jays’ lead to one run.


Roberto Osuna allowed a single and hit a batter with a pitch. With two outs, Abreu singled in a run to tie the game, and Matt Davidson singled in another to win it for Chicago. The Jays had nine hits and the White Sox had ten. All six Jays runs were charged to Shields, over 6.0 innings. Estrada allowed one run on four hits in 7.0 innings.


Game 2: Tuesday, August 1
JAYS WIN!! 8-4
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman


After blowing a lead late the night before, Marcus Stroman and the bullpen ensured that didn’t happen again. Josh Donaldson hit a home run in the 1st inning, then drove in another run in the 3rd with a sac fly. The White Sox tied it up in the 4th with a hit batter, a single, and a two-run double. Jose Bautista was robbed of a home run in the 5th by Alen Hanson but Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer to take the lead right back.



Toronto padded their lead in the next inning with a two-out rally, thanks to a Kevin Pillar walk, Darwin Barney single, and Jose Bautista walk that loaded the bases. Russell Martin hit a two-RBI single, and Donaldson doubled in Bautista to put the Jays up 7-2. Kevan Smith hit a two-run homer in the bottom half of the 6th. He was pinch-hitting for Matt Davidson, who had left the game with a wrist injury.


In the 7th inning, the Blue Jays scored again when Steve Pearce doubled to cash in a Kendrys Morales leadoff walk. Morales scored from first base, but the Jays then left the bases loaded. Stroman got into an argument with Tim Anderson in the bottom of the 7th after Anderson struck out. The benches cleared, but nobody was ejected. Stroman pitched around a single and then ended his night after 7.0 innings with four runs allowed on seven hits. Ryan Tepera allowed two singles in the 8th but stranded them, and Dominic Leone stranded a triple in the 9th.


Game 3: Wednesday, August 2 (Day game)
JAYS WIN!! 5-1
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Save: Roberto Osuna


J.A. Happ earned his fourth win of the year with ten strikeouts in a thrilling start. In the 1st inning he loaded the bases on a single, a walk, and another single, but got a strikeout and a forceout to escape the jam. He threw a perfect 2nd, then allowed a leadoff triple to Tim Anderson in the 3rd. Once again, Happ avoided any runs by getting a trio of groundouts that left Anderson standing at third. He set down the six batters after that, too.



The Jays stranded a pair in the first inning against Derek Holland, then took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd on a Justin Smoak RBI double. They stranded the bases loaded in the 5th, but Steve Pearce led off the 6th with a home run. Happ gave up three singles in the bottom of that inning, which put Chicago on the board, but he came back in the 7th to get three strikeouts on thirteen pitches. His night ended following that, with one run allowed on six hits over 7.0 innings.


The Jays piled on two more runs in the 8th inning – Pearce led off with a walk and moved to third on a Kevin Pillar single. The call was originally that Pillar was thrown out at first base, but it was overturned on replay. Russell Martin drove in Pearce with a single, and Pillar scored on a wild pitch, which also allowed Martin to steal second and advance to third. It took three relievers to finish the bottom of the 8th for the Jays: Dominic Leone struck out a pair and walked one, then Aaron Loup walked a batter, but Joe Biagini got a third strikeout to strand the walks and maintain a 4-1 lead. Josh Donaldson hit a leadoff home run in the 9th, and Biagini had to leave the game after opening the inning with a pair of singles. Roberto Osuna got the save by shutting down the next three, including a strikeout.



Overall Notes:

The non-waiver trade deadline fell on the first day of this series. The Blue Jays made two notable moves – pitcher Francisco Liriano to the Houston Astros for outfielder Nori Aoki and outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez. The Jays also sent Joe Smith to Cleveland for a pair of prospects, LHP Tom Pannone and infielder Samad Taylor.


Liriano had an ERA of 5.88 in  82.2 innings across 18 starts with the Jays this year. Aoki has been hitting .272/.323/.371 over 202 AB with Houston this year, while Hernandez has been slashing .279/.369/.485 with 12 home runs in Triple-A. In an interesting twist, Hernandez hit his first major-league home run (it was also his first hit) last year off Liriano, the pitcher he would eventually be traded for.



Smith had an ERA of 3.28 in 35.2 innings in Toronto. On a personal note, the trade to Cleveland also allows him to live near his mother, who has Huntington’s Disease. Both Cleveland and Houston are playoff contenders; as of July 31st they were both leading their respective divisions.



In a flurry of roster moves around the trade deadline, the Blue Jays activated J.P. Howell from the disabled list, and sent Leonel Campos to the minors. Miguel Montero left the game in the 6th inning on Wednesday with a groin strain, and might need time on the DL.


Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • Jose Bautista set a new team record (20 games) for the longest streak without hitting a single.


My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Estrada/Donaldson/Happ/Smoak

There was a lot of speculation prior to the deadline that Marco Estrada would be traded. In his first start afterwards, he had a vintage Estrada start. For the first time in over a month, he lasted seven innings. He no-hit the White Sox for the first 4.1 innings, then allowed just one run on four hits and one walk. He struck out five, and threw 72 of his 101 pitches for strikes. In typical Estrada fashion, he got eight of his outs on fly balls, and two ground balls.


Josh Donaldson hit a home run in each of the three games in this series, totaling 5-for-10 (.500) with a double, three walks, and five RBI.  Donaldson also made a few defensive gems in the series, including a barehanded play on a slow rolling ground ball.



J.A. Happ pitched 7.0 innings for the first time since the start of the season, allowing one run on six hits. He allowed just one walk, and struck out a season-high ten batters.


Justin Smoak had five hits in thirteen at-bats, including a double and two home runs. He drove in four, and continues to improve on his career highs in hits and home runs. He’s now reached 113 hits, and his home runs were his 30th and 31st of the year.


Where We Are Now:
Last in the AL East, 8 games back of Boston


The bad news is they don’t have much of a rotation now, with Liriano traded and Aaron Sanchez still on the disabled list. The bullpen also has proven mortal yet again, giving up a five-run lead over the course of two innings.

The good news is, they won the series and are over the fifty-win mark now. Marco Estrada showed signs of his old self, and the offense has had a resurgence, scoring five or more runs for five straight games.


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