Game 1: Monday, May 1
JAYS WIN!! 7-1
Winning pitcher: Marco Estrada
For what seems like the first time this season, the Jays won an easy game. They never trailed once, after scoring two runs off Luis Severino in the 2nd on a Ryan Goins home run, and three more in the 6th when Justin Smoak singled, Devon Travis hit a ground-rule double, Goins hit a two-run sac fly and Chris Coghlan homered.
Jose Bautista launched his second home run of the season in the 7th, cashing in a leadoff Ezequiel Carrera single against Luis Cessa. In total, the Blue Jays had twelve hits, took three walks, and struck out four times. Their opponents had seven hits and two walks, and struck out seven times.
The lone Yankee run was the result of three consecutive one-out singles off Marco Estrada in the 4th, and after that Estrada got a double play to prevent further damage. He stranded six Yankee baserunners over the course of his start. Danny Barnes came in and threw two innings, without allowing a hit or a run – though things got interesting for the Yankees when Jacoby Ellsbury walked and stole second, Greg Bird reached on a error, then Aaron Hicks grounded into a forceout. The game ended with runners on first and third.
Game 2: Tuesday, May 2
Jays lose, 5-11
Losing pitcher: Mat Latos
The Yankees blasted four homers off Mat Latos – all from their outfielders. The Blue Jays scored four runs off Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka, but they were already in a deep hole by then.
Latos got lucky in the 1st after allowing a Brett Gardner leadoff double, a Chase Headley bunt single, and then a Matt Holliday RBI double. With one out and two on, Didi Gregorius hit a grounder to Latos, who threw to first for the out. Smoak then threw to shortstop Ryan Goins to keep Holliday on second. Headley was almost half-heartedly running home, so Goins fired the ball to Russell Martin, who easily tagged Headley out.
Latos was less fortunate in the 2nd, when Aaron Hicks and Gardner each hit two-run homers. Aaron Judge added a solo homer in the 3rd, and Gardner another solo shot in the 4th. Latos was done after four innings, with seven runs allowed on ten hits. The Blue Jays didn’t score until the 5th, when Steve Pearce hit a one-out homer, his first of the season. He hit his second in the 7th, as part of a 4-for-4 night. Devon Travis doubled in the 5th and scored, then singled in the 7th and scored when Dellin Betances bizzarely dropped the ball in front of the pitchers’ mound on his delivery – it was ruled a balk because it didn’t reach beyond one of the foul lines.
Dominic Leone pitched two innings and allowed one run, and Jason Grilli faced three batters in the 7th, who all reached and then scored when Aaron Judge ended a ten-pitch at-bat with a homer. Aaron Loup finished the game and was the only Toronto pitcher not to allow a run. The Jays had eleven hits but stranded eight, meanwhile the Yankees had sixteen hits and also stranded eight.
A disheartening loss that felt like a tightrope walk the whole way. After the first two batters to face CC Sabathia singled, they took a comfortable 4-0 lead in the 1st inning on the strength of a Justin Smoak RBI single and a Steve Pearce three-run homer. In the bottom half, the Jays watched their lead shrink to one run as the first two runners also reached against Marcus Stroman, the Matt Holliday hit his own three-run bomb. Stroman got a groundout, then Aaron Judge singled and Russell Martin threw him out stealing second, and a walk was stranded.
Toronto padded their lead in the 2nd, when Darwin Barney doubled and Ryan Goins reached on a bunt. Jose Bautista took a one-out walk, loading the bases, and Russell Martin also walked to bring in Barney. Kendrys Morales hit into a forceout, which plated Goins. That three-run lead survived until the bottom of the 3rd, when Stroman allowed a leadoff single to Starlin Castro and then (for the third time this series) Aaron Judge homered to deep center, again bringing the score to within one run. Stroman left the game after that inning, having allowed five runs on six hits and three walks. Sabathia struck out the side in the 4th, then he too left the game after a leadoff walk and a single in the 5th. The runners advanced on a wild pitch, but they were both left in scoring position. The Jays stranded another pair in the 6th, then didn’t get another runner for the duration of the game. They had eight hits and took five walks.
Ryan Tepera, pitching for the first time since last Sunday, allowed two hits and three walks over an inning and two-thirds, then left the bases loaded for Joe Biagini in the 5th. Biagini caught Kyle Higashioka looking to escape, then struck out the next four hitters he faced. Then Biagini gave up three straight line drives – Judge single, Chase Headley double, Chris Carter RBI single, tying the game – before an infield RBI single to pinch-hitter Didi Gregorius, which Biagini himself fielded, and had to be reviewed. Joe Smith got one out before walking a pair to load the bases and bring in another run. Finally he got out of the inning, with the score 8-6 Yankees.
To his credit, Roberto Osuna faced three hitters in the 8th and struck them all out, but unfortunately it was too late. The Jays saw Aroldis Chapman in the 9th for the first time this season and two of the three batters who faced him struck out. The Yankees had collected 11 hits and eight walks, while striking out eleven times.
Marcus Stroman left the game after the third inning Wednesday with what was first reported as armpit discomfort, then general arm tightness. He was pretty vague about the feeling and its implications; he also said he’d be fine to start next Tuesday as scheduled. But with two starters hurt already, that’s not exactly reassuring. Fortunately, most of his command issues from Wednesday could probably be blamed on the arm discomfort, so if it does clear up soon, there’s no reason to assume that will carry over to his next start.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Ryan Goins’ 2-RBI sac fly on Monday was the first time that has occurred in team history
- Jose Bautista’s home run on Monday was the team’s hardest-hit so far in 2017, at 109.1 mph, per Statcast
- No player in history had ever gotten five hits in their first five at-bats of the season against the Yankees, with three home runs among them, until Steve Pearce did it in this series.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Estrada/Pearce/Travis
It seems like every time he pitches, Estrada is one of my favourite players, but he keeps doing so well he deserves all the recognition. In seven innings on Monday, he allowed seven hits, one run, and no walks. He struck out five, and retired the first seven batters he faced in a row, as well as the last five straight. He finally earned his first win due to his great start.
Steve Pearce had had a rough time in April (hitting .167/.211/.167 in 54 at-bats), and was without an extra-base hit. But after sitting Monday’s game, he finally broke out in a big way this series. He had the second four-hit game of his career in Game 2 (including two home runs) then hit his third homer of the year the very next day. In total, he was 5-for-7 (.714) in the series with five RBI, a double, three home runs and a walk. His average has jumped to .230 and he is now the owner of a .393 slugging percentage. I hope this is a sign of good things to come for him.
Devon Travis was also off to a poor start to the season, hitting .130/.193/.195 in 77 at-bats April. Some of that was due to poor batted-ball luck, but he also had been striking out 20% of the time. In the first two games in New York, however, he began to look like the Travis of old, with two-hit performances both days, and a double and two runs scored in each game. He went 0-for-4 in Game 3, but combined with his performance in the last few series he seems on the verge of turning things around. John Gibbons has confidence in him, too.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) May 3, 2017
Where We Are Now:
Last in the AL East, nine games back of New York (after the off day Thursday)
The bad news is, with Stroman’s arm soreness we can potentially add another starting pitcher to the ever-growing list of team injuries. If only the bullpen could keep it together…
The good news is that more of the struggling bats have broken out (Pearce especially) and they’re nearing a return for Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki – Gibby has optimistically stated they might be back in time for the start of the homestand against Cleveland next Monday.
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