Game 1: Tuesday, July 3rd
JAYS WIN!!! 8-6
Starting Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Save: Tyler Clippard
Marco Estrada had been looking like a pretty promising trade piece over his last few starts, until he left Tuesday’s game with pain in his hip, after getting just one out and allowing two runs. The first run was scored by Jose Bautista, who walked in his first plate appearance in Toronto since last September, and scored on Asdrubal Cabrera’s home run. The bullpen did their best to carry on that tradition – Jake Petricka finished the 1st without incident, but gave up another two-run bomb to Devin Mesoraco in the 2nd, and Preston Guilmet threw a scoreless 3rd but allowed a solo shot to Wilmer Flores in the 4th.
The Blue Jays didn’t get a man on base until Curtis Granderson walked to lead off the 4th. Teoscar Hernandez singled, sending Granderson to third, but Hernandez was thrown out trying to stretch a double. Justin Smoak also walked in that inning, but they stranded the runners at the corners. Guilmet gave up a double and a walk with out in the 5th, and then Tim Mayza came in and caught Brandon Nimmo trying to steal third. Mayza then walked Cabrera, but got Michael Conforto swinging to end the frame.
Russell Martin led off the bottom of the 5th with a walk, having been robbed of a base hit by a diving Bautista two innings earlier. With two outs, Devon Travis was hit with a pitch, and Granderson scored Martin with a double to put the Jays on the board. The Mets reclaimed that run in the 7th, after Joe Biagini walked a pair and Aaron Loup allowed a two-out RBI double to Conforto. In the bottom half, with one out, Randal Grichuk reached on a ball that hopped just over Bautista’s head, then got to third on the error. That prompted Zack Wheeler’s exit from the game.
Grichuk then scored on a groundout, and Travis walked, Granderson doubled, and Travis scored on a wild pitch making it 6-3. Hernandez worked a walk, and after Robert Gsellman was brought in, Yangervis Solarte walloped a game-tying, three-run birthday homer into the visitor’s bullpen. With the score 6-6, John Axford struck out a pair in the 8th, the first and only inning in which no Mets reached base. With two outs, Grichuk got hit with a pitch, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered to left, putting the Jays ahead 8-6. Axford allowed a pair to reach in the 9th, beginning with a two-out Bautista single, but Tyler Clippard sealed the win with a groundout.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 4, 2018
Game 2: Wednesday, July 4th
Jays lose, 3-6
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman pitched great in his last two times out, but he struggled to find the zone early on, and couldn’t even make it out of the 5th this time around. He walked the leadoff man in the 1st and 2nd innings, then induced a double play both times. Kendrys Morales gave the Jays the lead with a solo home run in the 2nd. Morales ended up scoring all three runs for the home side. The Mets tied it in the 3rd with a walk and a single, after which Brandon Nimmo was thrown out at second by a quick-thinking Russell Martin, who received the ball from the outfielder too late to tag the scoring runner.
The Blue Jays regained their lead in the 4th after Morales doubled and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove him in. By the 5th, Stroman had only allowed three walks and one hit. But the first batter of that inning singled, and Todd Frazier homered to put the Mets ahead 3-2. Stroman got two outs, but a double and a walk set up Jose Bautista to drive in another run with a single, and Asdrubal Cabrera followed suit. Luis Santos came in at that point, and allowed yet another RBI single (to Michael Conforto) before getting the final out. It took the Jays’ pitchers 39 pitches combined to finish that inning.
Santos turned it around for the 6th – of 11 pitches thrown, only one was a ball. He allowed a leadoff single to Frazier, then struck out two batters on three pitches and caught Frazier stealing to end the inning. The Jays got back one run in the bottom half, thanks to a pair of singles and a Gurriel forceout. Bautista reached on a dropped third strike in the 7th, and Cabrera singled, but neither team scored after that point. Rhiner Cruz pitched the last two innings of the game for the Jays, with two strikeouts and one hit allowed.
The Blue Jays’ rotation now has more injured pitchers than they do healthy ones. Marco Estrada was diagnosed with a glute strain, and – though he hasn’t been placed on the Disabled List – it is unknown how long recovery will take.
After the bullpen was essentially forced to pitch the whole game on Tuesday, Preston Guilmet was designated for assignment and Tim Mayza was optioned. Luis Santos and Rhiner Cruz were called up, and both got into the game on Wednesday night.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Russell Martin now has 500 hits in the American League, over three and a half seasons with the Blue Jays and two with the Yankees.
My favourite player(s) this series: Bautista/Gurriel
That’s not a typo. Jose Bautista could play against the Jays for years and probably always be my favourite player on the field. I just can’t decide what’s crazier: the fact that he took three walks in one game (off three different pitchers), the fact that he waited until the last possible second (two out in the 9th, trailing by two runs) to cheekily get his first base hit of the series, or the fact that we as a fanbase love the guy so much that we’ll cheer for everything he does to hurt our team. Then again, he whiffed on a pretty easy play on Grichuk that led to a two-base error, initiating a five-run rally. So maybe he wasn’t exactly trying to hurt them (although he admitted he’d intended to throw Grichuk out at first). While you mull that over, here’s the tribute video the Blue Jays played for him pregame:
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 3, 2018
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. really made his presence known in this series. He gave the Blue Jays the lead in Game 1, hitting his 4th home run of the year, and drove in a run earlier in the game with a groundout. He also got two RBI in Game 2 – the only batter to drive in Kendrys Morales other than Morales himself. The rookie played shortstop on Tuesday and second base on Wednesday, turned three double plays, and made two leaping snags on line drives over his head.
Where we are now:
4th place in the AL East, 18 games behind Boston.
After splitting two straight series, the Jays have an off-day on Thursday and then are going to play the other New York team, at home, for three games. The Yankees just finished an interleague series of their own, taking two of three from the Braves. Sam Gaviglio will face Sonny Gray in the opener. Gray has faced Toronto three times already – he didn’t even pitch into the 5th the first two times, then went 8 scoreless innings on two hits against them in early June. His ERA is now at 5.44 after a 6-run, 2 ⅓ inning start against the Red Sox his last time out. Gaviglio has a 3.97 ERA and has only started against the Yankees once. He held them scoreless for 7 innings with three hits.
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