Game 1: Friday, June 9
Jays lose, 2-4
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Toronto loaded the bases against Sam Gaviglio with two out in the 1st, but failed to cash in. They took the lead in the 2nd when Russell Martin led off with a walk, advanced on a passed ball and moved to third when Danny Valencia deflected an Ezequiel Carrera line drive, turning it into a single. Martin then scored when Ryan Goins grounded into a forceout. They doubled their lead the next inning when Jose Bautista hit a solo shot, his eleventh home run of the year.
After Joe Biagini set down the first seven batters he faced (three strikeouts among them), the Mariners got on the board in the 3rd with a pair of singles, a wild pitch, and a stolen base by Jarrod Dyson. The Jays got a single in each of the next three innings, and Biagini set down ten in a row. Unfortunately, things began to unravel in the 7th, when Kevin Pillar singled with two out, then was thrown out at home on a Josh Donaldson double.
In the bottom half of that inning, Robinson Cano led off with a double, Goins made a stellar throw from the shift to retire Nelson Cruz and keep Cano at second, but then Biagini issued 4-pitch walk to Kyle Seager. That turned out to be their undoing, as Valencia singled to left and Cano scored, plus Seager moved up to third when Carrera threw home. That extra base didn’t matter, because Biagini walked the next batter, loading the bases. Jarrod Dyson singled to take the lead – although Pillar did manage to exact some revenge and nab Valencia at home for the second out. Biagini was finished after seven innings, having allowed three earned runs on five hits, with two walks and five strikeouts. Both walks came in the 7th inning.
A pair of Blue Jays runners were stranded in the 8th. Ben Gamel hit a leadoff double in the bottom half of the inning, but he was erased when Aaron Loup fielded a bunt and threw to third instead of first. Guillermo Heredia, who had reached on the fielder’s choice bunt, scored after an intentional walk and a single. Edwin Diaz earned the save for Seattle, striking out Goins and Pillar in the 9th.
The Blue Jays were no-hit by Ariel Miranda for the first three innings (although they did get a pair of walks in the 3rd). Troy Tulowitzki was robbed of a hit down the third-base line in the 2nd when Kyle Seager made a diving play, and Seager also robbed Josh Donaldson on a lineout in the 3rd. Marcus Stroman gave up one run on a trio of singles (and a wild pitch) in the 2nd, with Seager earning the RBI. The Blue Jays took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 4th when Kendrys Morales got their first hit of the game, a home run which cashed in a Jose Bautista leadoff walk.
In the 7th, Justin Smoak led off with a single, Tulowitzki legged out a potential double play ball, and Russell Martin walked, ending Miranda’s night. The left-hander had allowed two runs on two hits and five walks. Darwin Barney quashed the rally when he hit into a double play on the first pitch he saw, ending the inning. In the bottom half, Jarrod Dyson led off with a single, then stole second. Russell Martin’s throw scooted through two infielders, Dyson went to third, Kevin Pillar overran the ball, and Dyson scored. It was Pillar’s first error of the season, and Martin’s second.
Ezequiel Carrera put the Jays on top with a solo home run in the 8th. Bautista walked, but then the Mariners were distracted, and Tony Zych was off the mound, so Bautista ran to second because nobody had called time. (It was originally scored as a stolen base, then changed to a fielder’s choice, but officially reverted to a stolen base on Monday). Joe Smith entered the game in the 8th, and gave up two singles to start the inning, then Donaldson turned an outstanding play on a Nelson Cruz ground ball which erased Robinson Cano at second. Cruz was originally also called out, but the double play was overturned on replay, resulting in runners on the corners and one out. Smith struck out Seager, then got Taylor Motter to ground out, escaping the threat.
Finally, Justin Smoak led off the 9th with a home run, bringing his total of the season to eighteen. Roberto Osuna needed just eight pitches (all strikes) to shut down Dyson, pinch-hitter Danny Valencia, and Mike Zunino. Dyson and Zunino both struck out swinging on sliders.
Game 3: Sunday, June 11
JAYS WIN!! 4-0
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Save: Roberto Osuna
In eight starts so far this year, James Paxton had only given up one home run. That lasted until he faced Josh Donaldson in the first inning. Kevin Pillar, having led off with a double, also scored on Donaldson’s eighth home run of the year, putting the Jays up 2-0 before the first out. They stranded a pair that inning, as did the Mariners, then Toronto loaded the bases on a walk and two singles in the 2nd, before stranding those as well.
The Blue Jays padded their lead with a two-out rally in the 4th, which saw two runs scored on a Pillar double, Donaldson RBI single, Jose Bautista walk and Kendrys Morales RBI single. J.A. Happ earned his first win of the year, after six shutout innings with six hits allowed, and one walk. Jeff Beliveau made his second appearance in a Toronto uniform, allowed a leadoff single to Ben Gamel, and was promptly removed in favour of Ryan Tepera. Tepera let Gamel steal second, but got three quick outs, including two Ks.
In the 8th, it was Aaron Loup’s turn to gave up the leadoff single – this time to Robinson Cano – and be removed, and Cano reached scoring position courtesy of a pair of groundouts. But Joe Smith got Danny Valencia to strike out, stranding Cano at third base. Danny Barnes got the first two outs of the 9th, but then he walked Taylor Motter and Jarrod Dyson singled. With the potential of a late-inning rally looming, John Gibbons had no choice but to bring in Roberto Osuna, who induced a deep flyout and sealed the series win. The Mariners out-hit the Blue Jays 9-8, but the visitors also took four walks.
The Canadian west-coast fans packed into Safeco Field yet again this series, and cheered louder than the home fans. It was pretty amusing seeing the fans leap to their feet on a home run (which they got to do five times!), and it was just a sea of blue.
Game 3 of this series was the only time they actually managed to get hits with runners in scoring position (they went 4-for-10, after being 0-for-4 and 1-for-4 on Saturday and Friday, respectively). You may recall that being a struggle in the Oakland and New York series.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Donaldson/Smoak/Happ
Josh Donaldson continued his impressive pace since returning from a calf injury a few weeks ago. He was 5-for-12, with one walk, a double, a home run and 3 RBI.
Justin Smoak had a 4-for-11 series against his former team, with a walk and one home run. He is currently tied for second in MLB in home runs, with eighteen on the season.
J.A. Happ’s outing of six shutout innings earned him his first win of the season, and with six hits and just one walk allowed, he certainly earned it. He also struck out eight, including five of the last eleven hitters he faced.
Where We Are Now:
Last in the AL East, 8.0 games back of New York and 0.5 games back of the fourth-place Orioles (following the off day on Monday).
The bad news is, they are still waiting to reach a .500 win percentage on the season. Hitting with RISP is also still an issue, as is getting runners into scoring position in the first place.
The good news is, they won the series, split the road trip, and have two days off in the next week to rest the bullpen. Aaron Sanchez is making his way back to the team. Steve Pearce has started a rehab assignment. And even if they need to just hit home runs to win games, at least they’ve been having no problem doing that!
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