Game 1: Friday, August 18th (day game)
Jays lose, 4-7
Losing Pitcher: J.A. Happ
In their first visit to the Friendly Confines since 2005, the Blue Jays scored one run in the 1st inning off Jake Arrieta. Steve Pearce hit an RBI single to cash in a Justin Smoak two-out double. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Cubs took a 3-1 lead on a walk, a double, and three singles against J.A. Happ. The inning ended when Javier Baez was tagged out at home trying to score on a single. The call, scored as a 9-6-3-6-2 putout, was confirmed on replay.
Jose Bautista singled in the 3rd but was caught stealing, and a pair of Jays singles were stranded in the 4th. Chicago padded their lead in the 5th with a two-run Anthony Rizzo single. Arrieta held the Jays to one run over 6.1 innings, with six strikeouts. Toronto managed to make things interesting by scoring three runs in the 8th – again with two outs – thanks to a Kevin Pillar 2-run double and a Ryan Goins single that also drove in a pair. It was 5-4 in favour of the Cubs, but then Baez came up in the bottom of the inning and hit a two-run homer off Tim Mayza.
Baez also prevented Bautista from reaching base in the 9th by making an impressive sliding stop. Happ’s final line was 5.0 innings with five earned runs, nine hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts. Toronto had ten hits to Chicago’s thirteen.
Nick Tepesch looked like he was in trouble almost immediately, after walking two and hitting Kris Bryant with a pitch to load the bases with one out in the 1st. Ian Happ drove in one with a single, but fortunately for Tepesch and the Blue Jays, Alex Avila hit into a double play to end it without farther damage. The Jays loaded the bases against Jose Quintana in the 2nd on a double, a Bryant throwing error, and an intentional walk of Rob Refsnyder. Tepesch struck out to end the inning without a run. He then allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the 2nd, but got his revenge on Quintana by snagging a line drive and doubling off the runner at first.
Toronto took the lead in the 4th when the first two batters reached and Raffy Lopez drove them in for his first RBI with the Jays. Ian Happ led off the bottom half with a home run to tie the game. Tepesch left the game with two outs in that inning, and Danny Barnes came in to get the final out. Happ led off the 6th with a walk, then came around to score the go-ahead run on a Javier Baez infield single. That run was charged to Barnes, who then left in favour of Matt Dermody.
Dermody allowed another run on two hits in the 7th to make it 4-2 Cubs. Kevin Pillar drove in a run in the 8th, after Steve Pearce singled and advanced to second on another Bryant error. But for the second time in two games, the Jays couldn’t get a baserunner against Wade Davis, and he picked up the save for Chicago.
This one was a heartbreaker. The Jays were down early, then battled back and took the lead, only to lose it on a flukey 10th. Marco Estrada loaded the bases before the first out of the 3rd, and Albert Almora cleared them with a double. Justin Smoak led off the 4th with a double, and scored on a Jose Bautista single. In the 5th, Norichika Aoki doubled to lead off, Estrada reached on a fielder’s choice without an out being made, and Ezequiel Carrera hit into a double play that scored Aoki. Estrada went on to strand runners at second and third in the bottom of the 5th before Miguel Montero homered in the 6th to tie the game at 3 runs apiece.
Hello from the other side.
(And goodbye, baseball) pic.twitter.com/EiuQFI4Yaa
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 20, 2017
Estrada was pulled from the game when his spot in the batting order came up in the 7th. He left the game with a no-decision, having allowed 3 runs on five hits and one walk in 6.0 innings. Steve Pearce pinch-hit for Estrada and walked, then Kendrys Morales pinch-hit for Carrera and struck out. Dominic Leone pitched a perfect 7th, aided by Kevin Pillar who slammed into the outfield wall on a catch that prevented a Kris Bryant extra-base hit.
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 21, 2017
Raffy Lopez replaced Montero as part of a double-switch in the 8th. The Jays got two walks in the top of the 9th, but Lopez struck out (despite a review on a ball which may have hit him) to end the inning. Ryan Tepera then walked the first two Cubs in the 9th, but got a forceout and a pair of strikeouts to escape the jam and go to extras.
In the 10th, Josh Donaldson led off with a single, and Jose Bautista was intentionally walked with one out. Pillar singled and Donaldson dove into home safely for the go-ahead run. Ryan Goins then walked, loading the bases, and Aoki walked as well, forcing Bautista home. Roberto Osuna came in hoping to preserve that 5-3 lead. Kyle Schwarber led off by striking out, but reached base on a dropped third strike. Ben Zobrist singled, and Schwarber got to third, before scoring on a wild pitch. Zobrist advanced to third on a groundout. Javier Baez also struck out – but Lopez dropped the ball, and tried to keep Zobrist at third so he made the throw late and Baez, too, was safe. Osuna hit the next batter, loading the bases with only one out on the board (despite recording three). Alex Avila singled, two runs scored, and the Cubs walked it off.
Jose Bautista played third base and Josh Donaldson played shortstop in all three games this series. On Sunday, they started at those positions. A new look for the Jays’ infield, to say the least. It was Donaldson’s first career start at the position.
In a few notable roster moves, the Jays signed left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson to a minor-league contract on Friday. Anderson had played with the Cubs earlier in the season, racking up an 8.18 ERA in 22.0 innings over 6 starts. On Saturday, the team also traded for righty Tom Koehler, who was originally with the Marlins. Koehler has a 7.42 ERA in 12 starts with 55.2 innings pitched in Miami, with a WHIP of 1.73.
Tim Mayza was optioned to Buffalo on Saturday, with TJ House recalled in his place. J.P. Howell was released, after being DFA earlier in the week.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- For the first time ever, two players with the last name Happ faced each other on Friday. Ian went 0-for-3 against J.A. with three strikeouts.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Montero/Pillar
Miguel Montero played with the Cubs before coming to Toronto. He was released after courting controversy with some comments he made about how the pitchers (specifically Arrieta) prevented him from throwing out baserunners. Not only did he throw out a baserunner in his first game against his old team, but he also had four hits in ten at-bats. He doubled and hit a home run on Sunday, which was the tying run at the time. This series felt like the Miguel Montero Revenge Tour, and I was behind it 100%!
Kevin Pillar was the most productive hitter for the Jays this weekend. He had two hits in each game – a total of 6-for-13 (.461) for the series – with two doubles and three RBI, including the one which would’ve put the Jays over the top on Sunday. In addition to that, he had some awesome defensive highlights in the field, one a running catch on Friday and then that snag where he slammed into the ivy-covered outfield wall on Sunday.
Where We Are Now:
Still last in the AL East, 12.5 games back of Boston, and now 5 games back of the second wild card (with seven teams ahead of them)
The bad news is that they’ve lost all the momentum of their 10-5 start to August. Getting swept by the reigning World Series champions will do that. The losses due to injury are really being felt (Russell Martin no doubt would have prevented those passed balls that led to the walkoff on Sunday) and Roberto Osuna has been part of some heartbreaking losses this season.
The good news is, this series was incredible to witness in person and you can read all about my trip to visit Wrigley here! Hopefully it puts a smile on your face, in spite of the sweep!
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