Game 1: Friday, August 11
Jays lose, 2-4
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
The final score is misleading about the quality of Marcus Stroman’s start, as all four runs were unearned. Stroman actually started the game with two perfect innings, and faced the minimum in six of his eight innings pitched. Toronto took a one-run lead in the 2nd on a Kevin Pillar sac fly with the bases loaded. Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived. Russell Martin left the game after hurting himself in his at-bat in the 1st inning. Raffy Lopez replaced him behind the plate.
The first baserunner Stroman allowed was with one out in the 3rd, when John Jaso was hit in the foot with a pitch. The Blue Jays asked for review and the call was confirmed. Francisco Cervelli then reached on a Rob Refsnyder throwing error, with Jaso getting to third on the play. Josh Donaldson tried to turn a double play on the next ball, but Refsnyder couldn’t make the turn to first in time and Jaso scored. The Pirates then reviewed the play and it was determined that Refsnyder didn’t touch second base either, therefore no outs were made. The next two batters hit a single and a double past a diving Pillar – both drove in runs. When the mess was over, the Pirates had scored four and Andrew McCutchen had left the game with an injury.
Jose Bautista led off the bottom half with a home run, and Lopez singled. Donaldson narrowly missed a home run as well, but Justin Smoak popped up and Pearce was called out on a borderline strike to end the inning. Jameson Taillon set down the next nine Jays in order. Stroman kept pace with him, save for a single in the 5th. Stroman issued a leadoff walk in the 6th but got a double play, and got another to erase a single in a five-pitch 8th inning. Taillon left the game in the 7th after allowing hits to the first two batters. He took the win with two runs on six hits over 6.0 innings. Stroman’s four runs were all unearned. Danny Barnes pitched a scoreless 9th for the Blue Jays with two strikeouts.
Game 2: Saturday, August 12
JAYS WIN!! 7-2
Winning Pitcher: Chris Rowley
Chris Rowley made his major-league debut with a win in a 5.1-inning start. He got his first strikeout, Josh Harrison swinging, as part of a hitless 1st. The first hit Rowley allowed was a leadoff triple to Josh Bell in the 2nd. Bell scored on a two-out Jordy Mercer single which tied the game. The Jays had already scored in the 1st on a forceout. They then retook the lead in the 2nd, when Josh Donaldson walked with the bases loaded.
Rowley allowed a hit in each of the 3rd and 4th, but nothing came of it. In the bottom of the 5th, Toronto again loaded the bases, and pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales hit a ground ball that would have been an inning-ending double play – except the Pirates’ second baseman Adam Frazier made a bad throw, allowing Morales to reach safely and two runs to score on the forceout.
After a single and a walk with one out in the top of the 6th, Rowley left the game in favor of Dominic Leone. Leone stranded the runners, giving Rowley a final line of one earned run in 5.1 innings, with five hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. A trio of singles scored another pair of Jays runs in the 7th. Mike Ohlman got his first career RBI as he drove in Justin Smoak; Steve Pearce also scored when Harrison threw wide of first – that allowed Ohlman to get to all the way to third base. Kevin Pillar then plated Ohlman with a sac fly. Mercer hit a home run on Leonel Campos’ first pitch of the 9th, giving him both of the Pirates’ RBI. The Blue Jays scored seven runs without an extra-base hit, although both teams had eight hits.
Game 3: Sunday, August 13
JAYS WIN!! 7-1
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
The Pirates had scored first, in a three-hit 1st against J.A. Happ. Josh Donaldson hit a two-run, 1st-inning homer to put the Jays up 2-1. The rally continued with a double and a walk, and then Ryan Goins hit a two-run double. After that, Kevin Pillar reached on a fielding error, and Goins moved to third. As Raffy Lopez struck out, Pillar broke for second, Francisco Cervelli tried to throw him out and Goins stole home to take a 5-1 lead. Pillar was also safe.
Over the next four innings Happ allowed a single and a walk, but stranded them both. He also struck out the side in the 4th. The Jays had about the same luck against Chad Kuhl. In the 6th, Wade LeBlanc replaced Kuhl and Darwin Barney hit a two-out solo home run. Justin Smoak took LeBlanc deep the next inning, which gave the Jays a six-run lead.
Happ’s start lasted 6.0 innings, and allowed one run on four hits. He walked three and struck out eight. The Blue Jays’ bullpen pitched three hitless (and scoreless) innings, thanks to the combined efforts of Danny Barnes, Leonel Campos, Ryan Tepera, and J.P. Howell.
With Russell Martin going to the Disabled List after straining his oblique in the first game, another backup to the backup catcher depth was needed. Mike Ohlman got the call. Chris Coghlan and Chris Smith were both designated for assignment on Saturday, with Coghlan being released outright later that day. Dominic Leone went on the bereavement list Sunday following the death of his grandfather. Matt Dermody came up from AAA temporarily in his place.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Jose Bautista joins Carlos Delgado as the only players in Blue Jays history with eight consecutive seasons of 20+ home runs
- On Friday, Jose Bautista tied George Bell with the third-most runs scored all time by a Blue Jay (768). By the end of Sunday, he’d added three more and had passed Bell.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Rowley/Smoak
Chris Rowley was the first ever graduate of West Point Military Academy to appear in an MLB game. His start was boost for the faltering Jays rotation, with 5.1 innings of one-run ball on five hits and just one walk. He also tallied three strikeouts, and threw 47 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
Justin Smoak had two hits in each game of this series – he hit a round .500 over the course of the three games. He scored four times and drove in one, which was his 33rd home run of the season.
Where We Are Now:
Last place in the AL East, 11 games back of Boston (and 4 games back of the second AL Wild Card, with six teams ahead of them)
The bad news is, the Jays’ injury woes continue. Russell Martin is hurt and oblique injuries (depending on severity) can take anywhere from two to six weeks to recover from.
The good news is, despite that injury, they still won the series, thanks to some performances from unexpected sources.
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