Series Sum-Up: at Detroit, June 1-3


Game 1: Friday, June 1st
Jays lose, 2-5
Losing Pitcher: Jaime Garcia


Despite his great start last time out, Jaime Garcia couldn’t even get out of the 2nd inning, allowing four runs on seven hits. After the first two batters in the inning singled, Kevin Pillar needlessly dove for a ball that resulted in a JaCoby Jones triple. Jones scored on a groundout, and the hits kept coming – a Jose Iglesias double was cashed in by a Jeimer Candelario single, then another single drove Garcia from the game with two out. Danny Barnes loaded the bases with a walk before finally getting out of the jam.


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The Jays had a double play erase an infield single in the 3rd, then went down on five pitched in the 4th before another double play erased a walk in the 5th. They cut the lead in half in the 6th thanks to a leadoff walk and a Teoscar Hernandez triple. Hernandez then scored on a Kendrys Morales sac fly. Meanwhile, their bullpen was going the distance; Barnes shut down three in a row in the 3rd, and Joe Biagini pitched three scoreless innings. He gave up two hits in the 6th, but Russell Martin caught Jones stealing, and Pillar caught a looper to end the inning and save a run.



Martin led off the 7th by reaching on a slow chopper to third base. He was then out as Devon Travis reached on a forceout, and Travis crossed the plate but was sent back to third as Aledmys Diaz hit a questionable ground-rule double. The Tigers got an insurance run in the bottom half of that inning, a Nick Castellanos solo homer off Tyler Clippard. It was the only run allowed by the bullpen in 6 1/3 innings of work. The Jays stranded the bases loaded in the next inning after a walk, a single, and Martin was hit with a pitch. They stranded nine baserunners total over the course of the game.


Game 2: Saturday, June 2nd
Jays lose, 4-7
Starting Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Losing Pitcher: Seunghwan Oh


With 5 innings pitched, this was one of J.A. Happ’s shortest starts of the year. His second pitch of the game was driven over the left field wall by Jaimer Candelario, but Happ shut down the next seven batters, including four on strikeouts. He would end the game with eight. The Blue Jays stranded a baserunner in each of the first two innings against Matt Boyd, before breaking out with a two-run, three-hit 3rd. While batting in that inning, Teoscar Hernandez fouled a ball off his own foot, remained in to finish the at-bat after a visit from the trainer, but then left the game after flying out.


Luke Maile and Yangervis Solarte doubled, and Justin Smoak singled to give Toronto their first lead since the previous Sunday. But getting and maintaining a lead are two different things, and before the inning was over, Detroit had responded with a run on a pair of doubles, tying it up at 2.




In the 5th, Maile and Solarte both hit solo home runs to put the Jays ahead 4-2, but again, they couldn’t make it out of the inning with the lead. First, a four-pitch walk and a stolen base put Jose Iglesias on second. Kevin Pillar missed a fly ball, resulting in a double for Dixon Machado, and the relay went in to Aledmys Diaz, who held the ball instead of throwing home as Iglesias rounded third and scored unchallenged. Castellanos singled with two out, tying the game again. Happ got out of the inning two batters later, having thrown 40 pitches.


Following two perfect innings from John Axford, Seunghwan Oh gave up two hits with one out, intentionally walked a batter to load the bases, then gave up a two-run single to John Hicks. A JaCoby Jones sacrifice fly scored another. Tim Mayza had to be brought in to get the final out, stranding a pair. Boyd had left the game after the 7th, but the Blue Jays didn’t get one runner on base against the Detroit bullpen.


Game 3: Sunday, June 3rd
JAYS WIN!! 8-4
Winning Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez


The Jays snapped a five-game losing streak and ended their road trip with a win. They also recorded double-digit hits for the first time since the first game in this road trip. Michael Fulmer and Aaron Sanchez were evenly matched through five innings, with neither one allowing a hit until the 3rd. The Blue Jays had the first man to reach base – Devon Travis took a leadoff walk in the 3rd, but was erased on a double play. Aledmys Diaz then singled, but was stranded. In the bottom of that inning, Sanchez allowed a single and a walk, but stranded both. In the 5th, a Russell Martin single was erased when he was thrown out as part of a failed hit-and-run.


The game was held scoreless until the 6th, when Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer, his ninth of the year. In the bottom half, Sanchez allowed his only run of the game, a leadoff home run to Leonys Martin. Not content with a one-run lead, the Blue Jays piled it on in the 7th. They had a single and a walk before Fulmer was pulled, then an RBI double from Randal Grichuk and a shallow RBI single from Diaz on consecutive pitches from Warwick Saupold. With two outs, a single and a ground-rule double scored Grichuk and Diaz.


Grichuk hit a two-run homer, his third of the season, in the 8th to take an 8-1 lead. But even then the Tigers wouldn’t quit, clawing back for three runs on three hits and a walk in the bottom half. Danny Barnes was first up, allowing a hit and a walk. Aaron Loup allowed RBI singles to both batters he faced, and then when Ryan Tepera came in to finish the job, he allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. Despite that, Tepera didn’t allow any baserunners in 1 2/3 innings, and closed out the game cleanly in the 9th.


Overall Notes:

Josh Donaldson was put on the disabled list before this series with the same calf tightness that kept him out of the last series. Aledmys Diaz and Randal Grichuk were activated from the DL on the same day. Dwight Smith Jr. was optioned to Buffalo, as was Jake Petricka. Tim Mayza was recalled.


John Axford became the first player this year to ride in the Tigers’ bullpen cart. He took the cart twice, and had perfect outings both times – an inning on Friday, and two on Saturday, with two strikeouts each day, so clearly the Jays need a bullpen cart for the Dome!



After losing six of the nine games on this road trip, the Blue Jays now have losing records both at home (12-17) and on the road (14-16).


Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • With their Friday night loss to Blaine Hardy, that made eight straight losses for the Blue Jays against a left-handed starter. It’s tied for the longest such streak in team history.


My favourite player(s) this series: Sanchez/Maile/Martin/Smoak

Considering the outcome of this series, you’d think there wouldn’t be so many individual performances to praise, but there are! Aaron Sanchez allowed only two hits in 6 innings of work, and one was a homer that scored his only run allowed. He did walk three, but struck out seven and threw 60 of his 100 pitches for strikes. Things are looking up for the young right-hander after he struggled in his previous start.


Luke Maile played in only one game this series, but he made a real impact. He reached base all three times at the plate, on a walk, a double, and a home run, and scored twice. After his slugging percentage briefly dipped to .400, that one game has it back up at .456.

On the other side of the catching tandem, Russell Martin put together a pretty good series as well. In two starts (both behind the dish, no more experiments for now!), the veteran went 2-for-5 with a pair of walks and a run scored. He threw out a baserunner, and was also hit with a pitch, because for some reason he always leads the team in that category.


Justin Smoak had four hits in ten at-bats over three games, walked three times, hit a double and a home run (in the same game) and drove in four. Then after Sunday’s game, he displayed some quick wit, chirping John Gibbons for his refusal to speak with the media the day before. Honestly, that exchange is reason enough to make him a favourite for this weekend.



Where we are now:
26-33, .441
4th in the AL East, 14.5 games back of Boston


After avoiding the sweep, the Jays will have a day off on Monday, then return home to face the Yankees in a two-game series. C.C. Sabathia will face Marco Estrada on Tuesday night. Sabathia has a 3.37 ERA, but the last time he faced the Jays he was forced to leave the game after 4 ⅓ innings after giving up two unearned runs on four hits and a walk. This Yankee team was struggling to stay above .500 when the Jays last saw them at the end of April, but have gone on a tear since, winning 26 of their last 34 games (they’ve also had several postponed or delayed due to weather).


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