Kendrys Morales was the hero of the evening, hitting three home runs to help the Blue Jays take the series opener, despite being out-hit 16-11. Marco Estrada gave up a two-run homer to Adam Jones in the 1st inning, after Manny Machado walked, stole second, and reached third on a Miguel Montero error. The Jays stranded two in the 2nd, and Baltimore padded their lead with three singles in the bottom half. In the top of the 3rd, it was time for Morales’ heroics to begin. Josh Donaldson doubled, and Morales took a Jeremy Hellickson fastball into right center field to make it 3-2.
Estrada got into a jam in the bottom of the 3rd, beginning with a pair of singles, and one run scored on a groundout and the other scored on a Mark Trumbo single. The Blue Jays got to Hellickson with a five-run rally in the 5th. Ryan Goins doubled, Josh Donaldson walked, and Morales plated Goins with a single. Jose Bautista walked, loading the bases, and Montero and Kevin Pillar hit back-to-back two-run doubles. The Jays sent nine batters to the plate, and by the end of the inning were up 7-5. Chris Davis homered to put Baltimore within a run, but Morales hit a three-run homer in the 6th for insurance.
Danny Barnes pitched the 6th and started with two singles, but got a double play to get out of it. Morales hit another home run, a solo shot, in the top of the 8th. Ryan Tepera allowed a pair of runs on four hits and a Bautista fielding error, in the bottom of the 8th, making it 11-8 for Toronto. Roberto Osuna got a four-out save, including two strikeouts. All eleven Blue Jays runs scored with two out in their respective innings.
Joe Biagini had the best start of his career, lasting 7.0 scoreless innings. Unfortunately the hitters couldn’t give him any run support, and they dropped it in extra innings. Biagini stranded two runners in each of the first three innings, and Adam Jones was ejected for arguing a strike call in the 1st. Meanwhile, the Jays got at least one baserunner in all but the 3rd, but couldn’t score. Teoscar Hernandez doubled in the 5th for his first hit with the Jays. In the top of the 6th, they had two walks with one out, but a pinch-hitting Justin Smoak flew out.
In the 8th Darwin Barney made an impressive sliding stop on a ground ball behind second base, but his throw to first couldn’t beat Manny Machado. Steve Pearce dove into the stands to catch a foul ball, and Machado advanced. A flyout ended the inning for Tom Koehler. Kevin Pillar doubled against Zach Britton in the top of the 9th; Jose Bautista pinch-hit and grounded out, moving Pillar to third. Barney hit a fielder’s choice to shortstop and Jonathan Schoop threw home. Pillar was tagged out, which was upheld on replay.
Steve Pearce with a Donaldsonesque catch pic.twitter.com/OQ9GvP74J2
— BP Toronto (@BProToronto) September 2, 2017
Koehler started the bottom 9th, but left after a leadoff single. Matt Dermody hit the only batter he faced (after getting ahead in the count 1-2), and Danny Barnes was brought in. Barnes got two outs, and then Wellington Castillo came in to pinch-hit. On a full-count pitch, Castillo lifted a fly ball to right field, which Hernandez caught up against the wall to end the inning and send the game to extras.
The Jays couldn’t get a baserunner in the 10th, after which Carlos Ramirez made his major-league debut on the mound. He caught Tim Beckham looking for his first strikeout, then struck out Machado, and got a groundout to end the inning. Miguel Castro (who debuted for the Blue Jays in 2015 and went to Colorado in the Troy Tulowitzki trade) came in for Baltimore in the 11th. Neither team got a baserunner that inning. Richard Urena led off the 12th, and hit a double in his first major league plate appearance. He was left at second.
Aaron Loup allowed a two-out walk, but Pearce made a nice play on a ground ball to first that ended the inning. With two outs in the 13th and Donaldson on second, Pearce lined a ball to left that Trey Mancini caught on a leap and ended the inning. Loup threw three pitches in the 13th, one of which resulted in a single to Machado, another which Schoop drove into right for a game-ending walkoff double.
Game 3: Saturday, September 2nd
JAYS WIN!!! 7-2
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Winning Pitcher: Matt Dermody
Marcus Stroman’s start, only 1.2 innings deep, was cut short when he took a line drive from Mark Trumbo off the elbow of his pitching arm. Stroman was seen begging to stay in the game, but the cooler heads of the trainer and acting manager Demarlo Hale prevailed and Matt Dermody came in to strand the two runners. Dermody went on to pitch two more scoreless innings, with one hit allowed and a strikeout.
Wade Miley set down ten batters in a row before Kevin Pillar led off the 5th with a home run, his fourteenth of the year. That was the first run of the game for either team. Kendrys Morales then drove in another run with a bases-loaded sac fly in the 6th. Josh Donaldson hit a three-run home run in the 7th, after Darwin Barney doubled and Luke Maile was hit with a pitch. Barney then hit a two-run homer in the next inning, scoring Jose Bautista.
Luis Santos made his MLB debut for the Blue Jays in the 5th, and pitched three scoreless innings before he allowed a leadoff home run to Seth Smith in the 8th. He allowed three hits and struck out three, including Mark Trumbo for his first career strikeout. Dominic Leone pitched the final two outs of the 8th, getting a double play. Baltimore scored another run with an RBI single by Trumbo in the 9th. Both teams had nine hits, but Smith’s home run was the only extra-base hit for the Orioles, while the Blue Jays had a double and three homers.
Game 4: Sunday, September 3rd
Jays lose, 4-5 (12 innings)
Starting Pitcher: Brett Anderson
Losing Pitcher: Danny Barnes
For the second time in the series, the Jays were walked off after a lengthy game. An impressive double play was turned by Ryan Goins, Richard Urena and Justin Smoak in the 1st to erase a single. Josh Donaldson hit a three-run bomb in the 3rd, cashing in Urena and Teoscar Hernandez. Welington Castillo led off the 3rd with a home run, putting the Orioles on the board. The next two batters singled, but Brett Anderson stranded them both. Mark Trumbo then hit a solo home run in the 4th, making it 3-2.
Toronto loaded the bases with one out in the 5th, on a Goins double and two walks, but Justin Smoak lined into a double play at first base. Jonathan Schoop tied the game in the 6th when he doubled and scored on a sac fly. The Jays retook the lead in the 7th, thanks to a Goins double and a Michael Saunders pinch-hit single. Tom Koehler stranded a pair of leadoff singles in the 7th, after a popped up bunt and a forceout. Ryan Tepera also stranded a pair in the 8th.
Roberto Osuna came in for the 9th looking to preserve a one-run lead, and Castillo hit a leadoff home run – his second of the game – to tie it. Osuna stranded a pair to send the game to extra innings. The Jays had hope when Urena worked a leadoff walk in the 10th, but Steve Pearce hit into a double play, and Kendrys Morales did the same the next inning. Carlos Ramirez pitched the 10th and stranded a double, then pitched a perfect 11th. Danny Barnes replaced him, Jonathan Schoop hit a leadoff double, and then two outs later scored on a Trumbo single to end the game.
With September beginning, rosters expanded on Friday and the first round of callups happened. Teoscar Hernandez, acquired from Houston in the Francisco Liriano trade, was called up, as were Michael Saunders (who was signed to a minor-league deal after the Phillies released him midseason), and Luke Maile, recently back from injury. Richard Urena and Carlos Ramirez were brought up for their first stint in the majors. On Saturday, Luis Santos was called up for his MLB debut, and Nick Tepesch was designated for assignment. Chris Rowley was brought up on Sunday.
This seems to be the Blue Jays’ season of being walked off. They lead the majors with nine losses via walkoff, but two in one series is a new low. Playing spoiler for the Orioles is fun, and splitting the series is a bonus, but blowing one late lead, and being unable to score despite amazing pitching and defense over thirteen innings is totally frustrating to watch. Plus, between two extra-inning games and Stroman having to exit his start early, the bullpen has been completely overwhelmed heading into the next series. Thank goodness for late-season call-ups!
Brett Anderson threw 59 pitches in his start on Sunday, in 6.0 innings. A Blue Jays pitcher hasn’t completed that many innings on 60 or fewer pitches since 1988.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Kendrys Morales is the first player in Blue Jays history with 4 hits, 3 home runs, and 7 RBI in the same game.
- He’s one of only five MLB switch-hitters to have more than one three-homer game in their career
- Roberto Osuna is the first pitcher in Blue Jays history with consecutive 35-save seasons.
- The Blue Jays set a new franchise record in the number of players used over the course of a season – the 60th different player appeared for the team during this series.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Biagini/Ramirez/Donaldson/Urena/Pillar/Morales on Thursday
Joe Biagini pitched a scoreless outing for the best start of his career. He allowed just five hits and one walk over seven innings. He also struck out a career-high ten batters, throwing 69 strikes out of a total 103 pitches. After getting into a few early jams, he escaped each deftly without allowing a run. Biagini then settled down, retiring fifteen in a row to end his night. He struck out the last five batters he faced.
Josh Donaldson had six hits in sixteen at-bats this series, including a double and two home runs. He walked five times, drove in six, and scored five runs. He now has ten home runs in his last twenty games, and increased his OPS twenty-one points, from .897 heading into the series to .918 after Game 4.
Carlos Ramirez really impressed in his first and second outings in the majors. Both were high-pressure situations – extra-inning tied games on the road. He pitched two scoreless innings in each game, with no walks and just one hit between the two starts. He also struck out four (two per game).
Richard Urena also made his MLB debut in this series, and appeared in two games – he was a defensive replacement in Game 2 and started Game 4. He went 1-for-3 with a double and three walks, and played some excellent defense. I’m excited to see what he and Ramirez have to offer in the future!
Kevin Pillar had already topped his own career high in home runs (he had 12 in 2015) but added to it with a homer in Game 3 of this series. He was 6-for-19 with a home run, two doubles, and three RBI for the series, including 3-for-5 on Friday. He had an eight-game hit streak until he went hitless on Sunday. In addition to his work with the bat, he continued his trademark excellent defense.
Kendrys Morales went hitless for the last three games of the series, but on Thursday he was unstoppable, playing a huge role in Toronto’s win with his four hits, seven RBI and three home runs. (Interestingly enough, Michael Saunders also hit three home runs in Baltimore for the Blue Jays last year, and he was called up the day after Morales repeated the feat).
Where We Are Now:
Last place in the AL East, 14 games back of Boston
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