Game 1: Monday, May 15
Jays lose, 6-10
Losing pitcher: Mike Bolsinger
The Blue Jays didn’t have a bad night, offensively – they collected 10 hits, Jose Bautista and Devon Travis both had three-hit nights (it was Bautista’s first three-hit game of the season), and Justin Smoak homered. Unfortunately, their pitchers gave them little help. Mike Bolsinger started off by hitting Brandon Phillips with one out in the 1st inning, then two singles and a forceout later, two runs had scored. Bolsinger started the 2nd inning by hitting leadoff hitter Adonis Garcia, who stole second and advanced on a throwing error by the catcher Mike Ohlman, then scored on a sac fly. The Jays got one run back in the bottom half when Smoak and Travis hit back-to-back doubles.
Bolsinger had a clean 3rd, when he got a double play to erase a Matt Kemp single. The Blue Jays stranded a pair that inning, then another pair of Atlanta singles (and a HBP) drove in a run. Ohlman then got his first major-league hit, an RBI single to centre, to cash in Devon Travis, who had singled and moved up on a Dansby Swanson error. That made it 4-2 Atlanta. Bolsinger allowed two more runs on three hits and a walk in the 5th, and his night was done. He’d allowed six runs (five earned) in 4.2 innings, on eight hits, two walks, and struck out three. J.P. Howell got the only batter he faced that inning, then allowed consecutive hits to start off the 6th.
Leonel Campos came in and gave up a one-out 3-run homer to Freddie Freeman, a Kemp double, hit Tyler Flowers with a pitch, and an RBI single to Garcia before ending the inning with a 10-3 deficit. Campos remained in for the 7th, the first inning when no Brave reached base. Travis doubled again that inning, cashing in a Kendrys Morales walk. Campos and Aaron Loup combined to get three strikeouts in the 8th, working around a walk and a hit batter. The Jays stranded a runner on second, then Jason Grilli pitched a clean 9th, Bautista led off with a single and Smoak homered.
Marco Estrada continued to struggle with the 1st inning, as he allowed two runs on four hits in the opening frame of this game. Meanwhile, Atlanta starter Jaime Garcia faced the minimum through three innings (a Jose Bautista walk in the 1st was erased by a double play). Jace Peterson singled home another run for Atlanta in the 4th, then got all the way to third on a Bautista throwing error. Toronto got their first runs in the bottom half of that inning when Kevin Pillar doubled and Justin Smoak walked, then Devon Travis doubled to bring them both in. Estrada’s 5th featured Freddie Freeman hitting his second home run in as many days.
However, Estrada remained in the game long enough to see the Jays tie things up – Pillar hit a solo shot in the 5th, and a Smoak walk, Travis double, Darwin Barney single, and Ezequiel Carrera groundout scored a pair in the 6th. He was done with five earned runs in 6.0 innings, eight hits, five strikeouts and no walks. That tie evaporated on the second pitch of the next inning – Dansby Swanson homered off Danny Barnes to put Atlanta ahead again 6-5. Luke Maile threw Freeman out stealing second in the 7th – the throw was late, but Travis held the tag down and Freeman came off the base.
In the bottom of the 8th with two men on and no outs, Travis tried to bunt, missed twice, and struck out. Darwin Barney then lined into a double play. In the top of the 9th, the Braves got two hits off Joe Smith, then a double play pushed Dansby Swanson to third, an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman, and Roberto Osuna allowed two more hits which scored three runs before getting the final out. Mike Ohlman got his second career hit (a single to left) in the bottom of the 9th, but he was stranded at first base.
Game 3: Wednesday, May 17
Jays lose, 4-8
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Joe Biagini put himself in a 6-run deficit before even getting an out. He gave up a leadoff single, then received a comebacker to the mound and threw it over Devon Travis’ head (though Travis leapt and caught the ball), resulting in everyone being safe. That set the table for a pair of walks, scoring one run, and Ezequiel Carrera misplayed a Nick Markakis fly ball in the left-field corner, which brought in two runs. Kurt Suzuki then homered to bring in the rest. Biagini then retired twelve batters in a row, because baseball is sometimes funny like that. He left the game after the 4th, in favour of pinch-hitter Darrell Ceciliani. In his only at-bat, Biagini laid down a successful sac bunt that moved Luke Maile to second – but they couldn’t bring Maile in.
The Blue Jays got a pair of runs in the 4th when Jose Bautista doubled and Justin Smoak homered. Then in the 5th, Maile led off with a single that dropped between the fielders, moved to third on a pair of groundouts, and scored on a wild pitch. Carrera walked, Bautista singled and they looked to be rallying when Smoak hit a fair ball to third, but Carrera ran into the third baseman who was fielding the ball, and was, therefore, called out for interference.
After Aaron Loup hit Freddie Freeman and Dominic Leone inherited, then stranded, a pair, Travis was hit with the first pitch of the next inning. Then Dansby Swanson dropped a line drive, Travis turned around to tag (thinking it had been caught) and the Braves doubled him off. John Gibbons came out to argue that the dropped ball was intentional, but lost the argument. The Braves tacked on two runs in the 6th against Leone and J.P. Howell. In the 7th, Kevin Pillar was quick-pitched and struck out, he yelled at pitcher Jason Motte and the benches cleared, but nothing came of it. In the 8th, Jose Bautista hit a solo home run, flipped his bat, and the benches cleared again.
Game 4: Thursday, May 18
JAYS WIN!!! 9-0
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
This offensive outburst was the opposite of the rest of the series – or really unlike anything we’ve seen this year. It started in the top of the 1st when Julio Teheran drilled Jose Bautista in the thigh with one out. Kendrys Morales followed that up with a first-pitch single, then recently-called-up Darrell Ceciliani (batting cleanup) doubled, scoring Bautista. That was basically the winning run, but that didn’t stop them from scoring 8 more. Chris Coghlan also doubled that inning, scoring a pair.
Marcus Stroman worked around a hit in each of the first two innings, and a walk in the 3rd – meanwhile, his team was piling the hits on Teheran. Bautista started the 3rd inning with a double, Morales singled, and Ceciliani hit his first home run with Toronto to score them. Luke Maile led off the 4th inning with his first home run of the season (and only his second hit) and then batterymate Stroman decided to get in on the fun and hit a home run of his own.
After walking Ezequiel Carrera, Teheran’s night was over. Bautista and Morales both hit first-pitch singles off his replacement Sam Freeman, bringing Carrera in for a 9-0 lead. Teheran had allowed nine runs on eight hits – three of them homers – and a walk. Stroman pitched into the 6th, without allowing a run in seven hits, then the bullpen took over. Ryan Tepera pitched an inning and a third (he also got a plate appearance – and struck out), Joe Smith and Jason Grilli each got a frame. None of them allowed a baserunner, and Smith struck out all three batters he faced. The Blue Jays had twelve hits to Atlanta’s seven, and four Blue Jays (Bautista, Morales, Ceciliani and Coghlan) had multi-hit performances. Morales was actually 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.
I don’t know how many times I’ve had to say this, but I hate throwing at batters intentionally. I was furious when Travis got hit on the knee – though thankfully it wasn’t the knee he had surgically repaired in the offseason. I definitely feel bad about Freeman getting hurt, but intentionally trying to hurt someone else doesn’t make that OK. Even Freeman himself said he knew it wasn’t intentional. It was Aaron Loup. Hitting guys accidentally is kind of his thing. As for Bolsinger, two of his batters were hit with curveballs (the other was a changeup). Draw your own conclusions about that.
Bautista seemed to expect it and was prepared (also Teheran only threw at his thigh, not that that makes it okay). Multiple Braves players had indicated prior to Thursday’s game that there would be payback for something, so I really wished there had been warnings placed before the game in an effort to discourage plunkings. That definitely showed intent. Tehran should have been ejected after he hit Bautista (it’s worth noting that the fastball too-far-inside was also the hardest pitch he’s thrown all year. It was meant to hurt). However, I’m sort of glad he wasn’t ejected because hey, thanks for the nine runs!
At this point, the injury bug is even biting their replacement players. Ceciliani was called up just before this series, but was starting due to Pillar’s suspension – then he dislocated his shoulder by hitting a home run. Dwight Smith Jr., who is also an outfielder, was brought up after Pillar was suspended, making his MLB debut in Game 4. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- The Blue Jays set a new team record on Monday by hitting 5 opposing batters with a pitch in one game.
- Devon Travis set the franchise record on Tuesday for most doubles by a second baseman in one month, with 12.
- Travis is also the first player in franchise history to hit multiple doubles in each of three consecutive games.
- Maile and Stroman became the first AL catcher-pitcher duo to hit back-to-back home runs since the DH was introduced
- At age 26, Stroman is the youngest Blue Jays pitcher to ever hit a home run – there was only one other, Mark Hendrickson, who was 29 when he did it in 2003.
- Hendrickson was a lefty, which means Stroman is the first RHP in team history to hit a homer.
- Marcus Stroman is now the first pitcher in team history to have two extra-base hits (after he also doubled in St. Louis earlier this year).
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Bautista/Travis/Stroman
Jose Bautista might have been central to one of the controversies in this series, but he was also very productive offensively. In 16 trips to the plate, he had 8 hits (.500) plus a walk. Four of those hits were for extra bases, including a home run and three doubles. He also drove in two runs, and scored five. After Game 4, John Gibbons said this about Bautista: “The one thing about Jose, too, and I’ve never seen anybody like it, when he gets drilled or they throw behind him, he always comes back to burn somebody.”
Devon Travis had a rough month of April, but he’s been on an incredible hot streak lately. He was 6-for-11 (.545) in this series, with four doubles and four RBI. He also took one walk and scored twice.
Marcus Stroman hit a home run. Oh, and he also pitched 5.2 scoreless innings with seven hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. A great outing. But mostly the home run.
Where We Are Now:
Last in the AL East, 8.0 games back of New York.
The bad news is, they’ve lost some of the momentum they had heading into this series and Biagini/Bolsinger aren’t perfect.
The good news is apparently we have gained a bench bat in Stroman. He’s so versatile!
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