Series Sum-Up: vs Detroit, June 29-July 2


Game 1: Friday, June 29th
JAYS WIN!!! 3-2
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Save: Tyler Clippard


Francisco Liriano made his first start in Toronto after being traded at the deadline in 2017. He went 6 full innings, and allowed three runs. A Teoscar Hernandez single in the 1st was erased on a double play. Liriano then walked a pair in the 2nd before striking out Aledmys Diaz to end the inning. Marcus Stroman allowed the first run of the game in the 3rd, with an infield single by JaCoby Jones, who came around to score after another single and a double play.


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The Blue Jays gained the advantage after a nine-batter, three-run 4th. Yangervis Solarte and Kendrys Morales both singled, and Solarte was thrown out at third. Then Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer to give the Jays the lead. Kevin Pillar singled, then two walks later Pillar was thrown out at home on a forceout, but that kept the bases loaded. Randal Grichuk reached on a grounder to third that brought in another run, before Hernandez struck out to end the inning.


Beginning with the double play in the 3rd, Stroman got 12 straight outs before allowing a leadoff home run in the 7th to Jeimer Candelario. Stroman went on to strand a single, and then the Jays stranded a pair of their own in the bottom half. Seunghwan Oh pitched the 8th and struck out the side in order. Tyler Clippard picked up the save after stranding a leadoff infield single.


Game 2: Saturday, June 30th
JAYS WIN!!!! 4-3 (Walkoff!)
Starting Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio
Winning Pitcher: Seunghwan Oh


The Blue Jays pushed the Tigers’ losing streak to 11 games with this tightly-contested game they won on a walkoff. Sam Gaviglio was good, pitching 7 innings and only allowing four hits. Matt Boyd went 6 innings, and also allowed four hits. Both starters gave up three runs. Gaviglio also walked three, but two of those runners were caught stealing by Luke Maile. John Hicks broke open the scoring with a solo home run in the 2nd to put the visitors on the board.


Jose Iglesias singled in the next inning and a sac bunt moved him over, but that didn’t even matter because Nick Castellanos homered two batters later. Boyd no-hit his former team for the first 4 innings, allowing only two walks (one to Maile, one to Yangervis Solarte). Kevin Pillar led off the 5th with a ground-rule double, then Aledmys Diaz singled and Pillar scored when Devon Travis grounded out. Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer to score Diaz and tie the game at 3-3. The Tigers got three baserunners in the 6th – a double, a forceout, and an error charged to the third baseman Solarte – but Gaviglio struck out Hicks to strand a pair.


In Boyd’s final inning of work, he gave up a leadoff single to Solarte, but Justin Smoak hit into an inning-ending double play. Joe Biagini worked the 8th for the home squad and stranded a pair after the first two batters reached on singles. Travis reached on an infield single, then Teoscar Hernandez walked with one out, but Travis was thrown out at home, trying to score on a single from Solarte. Seunghwan Oh allowed a hit in the 9th, and the Tigers brought in Joe Jimenez to face Justin Smoak in the 9th. Smoak homered on the second pitch he saw, and brought the game to an end in a tidy 2 hours 38 minutes.


Game 3: Sunday, July 1st
Jays lose, 1-9
Losing Pitcher: J.A. Happ


The Jays dropped their third consecutive Canada Day game, despite having their ace on the mound. They also scored first, when Teoscar Hernandez tripled in the 1st and Justin Smoak scored him with a ground-rule double. Those two were their only extra-base hits of the game, and Jordan Zimmermann retired the next nine batters, until Kevin Pillar singled in the 4th. J.A. Happ didn’t allow a hit until Nico Goodrum singled in the 3rd, but Goodrum was promptly erased on a double play. The same thing happened when Nick Castellanos led off the 4th with a single.


Happ’s luck ran out with two outs in the 5th, when Goodrum and Jose Iglesias singled, and JaCoby Jones walked to load the bases. Leonys Martin reached on a bunt single that scored Goodrum, but left the game with an injured leg. Castellanos then hit a grand slam to put the Tigers up 5-1. Happ stayed in for the 6th, but left after giving up a single, a double, and a two-run single to Iglesias; again, the Detroit rally came with two outs in the inning. Happ’s final line was 5 2/3 innings pitched with seven runs allowed on 10 hits and a walk, and four strikeouts.


The Blue Jays did attempt a comeback in the bottom of the 5th, as both Aledmys Diaz and Devon Travis reached on infield singles with one out. But a strikeout and a flyout ensured they were stranded. Zimmermann then mowed through the lineup in the 6th and 7th innings before he left the game. Canadian John Axford pitched a perfect 1 1/3 innings, then turned things over to Jake Petricka, who got a double play to erase a leadoff walk in the 8th. The Tigers scored another pair in the 9th with a Jones homer off Preston Guilmet. That inning gave the Blue Jays perhaps their best highlight of the game, as Pillar climbed the center-field wall to rob Castellanos of another two-run homer – even Castellanos himself applauded the catch.



Game 4: Monday, July 2 (Day game)
Jays lose, 2-3 (10 innings)
Starting Pitcher: Ryan Borucki
Losing Pitcher: Seunghwan Oh


In his first home start, Ryan Borucki escaped a 1st-inning jam with just one run allowed, despite loading the bases twice. After striking out the first batter of the game, he allowed three consecutive bloop singles that loaded the bases. Victor Martinez singled to bring in a run, but Borucki initiated a double play with a ground ball from the next batter, throwing home to record one out, and Luke Maile fired to first to complete the play.


Mike Fiers dominated the Blue Jays his first time through the order, not allowing a baserunner. He only threw five pitches in the 1st, and several Jays hit into outs on the first pitch. Curtis Granderson then led off the 4th with a single to shortstop on an 0-2 count. Randal Grichuk doubled, but Granderson didn’t score until Teoscar Hernandez grounded out. That tied the game, but Fiers stranded Grichuk at third and retired seven in a row before issuing a walk to Granderson in the 6th, on his way to an eight-inning, one-run start.


Beginning with the 1st-inning double play, Borucki retired 13 in a row, a streak which was snapped in the 6th when Mikie Mahtook reached on a swinging bunt up the third-base line that Borucki couldn’t get to in time. Mahtook was out on a forceout off the bat of Castellanos, but they couldn’t turn the double play, as Lourdes Gurriel’s throw was too high.  Castellanos got to third on a deep single from the next batter, and then scored on another forceout.


In the 9th, Solarte took a one-out walk and Devon Travis pinch-ran. Teoscar Hernandez doubled off the left-center field wall, but Travis was stopped at third. The Tigers opted to intentionally walk Morales. Pillar flew out to shallow left with the bases loaded, but again they held the runner. Justin Smoak pinch hit, and worked a walk to force in the tying run before Maile hit into a forceout.


In the 10th, Morales played third base for the first time in his career. Nico Goodrum hit a one-out triple off Seunghwan Oh and scored on a sacrifice fly as the go-ahead run for Detroit. Gurriel led off the bottom of that inning with a single, and Granderson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Gurriel to second, but he wouldn’t advance further. Despite taking three walks (and one IBB) and issuing none, Toronto’s five hits couldn’t top the eight hits from Detroit.


Overall Notes: 

Every game in this series – even the one that went 10 innings, and even the one where Detroit got 13 hits – clocked in well under three hours. The finale was the longest, at 2 hours and 44 minutes (for 10 innings), and the others were 2:33, 2:38, and 2:31 respectively. Rob Manfred must be pleased.


If you blinked you would have missed him, but Darnell Sweeney was here for two days. The 27-year-old outfielder was brought up from Buffalo on Friday after Steve Pearce was traded, then was used as a defensive replacement on Sunday before being sent back down to Triple-A. With that move, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made his return to the big club.


The Jays placed Ryan Tepera on the disabled list on Saturday (back-dated to the 28th) with right elbow inflammation and Jake Petricka was brought up in his place.


Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • Ryan Borucki’s eight strikeouts on Monday tie Roy Halladay for the second-most Ks in a rookie Blue Jay’s first home start. Jose Nunez holds the record with 11.


My favourite player(s) this series: Borucki/Smoak/Stroman

Ryan Borucki struggled in the 1st inning, but didn’t let that get to him and only allowed one run on four hits. The young starter recovered with an eight-pitch 2nd, then pitched seven innings total without walking anybody. He allowed another run in the 6th, but retired the side in order in his last inning pitched. He struck out eight while allowing six hits.


Justin Smoak started three games, and was used as a pinch-hitter in the fourth. He went 3-for-11 with two home runs, a double, and two walks. He drove in five runs, including the winning run on Saturday, the Jays’ only run in Sunday’s blowout, and the tying run in the 9th inning on Monday (after getting to a 2-2 count, he laid off two borderline pitches to work a bases-loaded walk).


Marcus Stroman took the mound on Friday without having a win to his name this season. He had a 0-5 record, and an ERA of 6.80 so far. He then went 7 innings with five hits and two runs allowed – and through the 6th, he’d faced just one batter over the minimum. He recorded four strikeouts, and didn’t walk any batters. His ERA for the season has now dropped to 6.02.


Where we are now:
39-45, .464
4th place in the AL East, 16.5 games back of New York and Boston


After yet another series split, the Jays will face the Mets for two games. Jose Bautista will make his first appearance in Toronto since becoming a free agent last winter. He’s currently slashing .250/.418/.476 with his new team, and has three home runs. Zack Wheeler will take the mound against Marco Estrada on Tuesday. Wheeler has a 4.47 ERA but is coming off two strong starts, in each of which he pitched 7 innings with 7 strikeouts. Wednesday will see Marcus Stroman up against Corey Oswalt. Oswalt only has one start this year, in which he threw 2 2/3 innings and allowed 6 runs.


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