Game 1: Tuesday, August 22nd
Jays lose, 5-6
Losing Pitcher: Chris Rowley
Norichika Aoki put the Blue Jays ahead with a home run on Chris Archer’s second pitch of the game. But in the bottom of the 1st the second Rays batter, Lucas Duda, answered that with a home run off Chris Rowley. Rowley allowed another home run to Corey Dickerson in the 2nd, then a hit and a walk which Kevin Kiermaier cashed in with a triple. Rowley didn’t make it out of the 4th, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks. Kevin Pillar got kicked out of the game in the top of the 3rd inning, after he grounded out. He was walking behind the umpire to get back to the dugout, and said something about a strike call earlier in his at-bat, and was ejected. Ezequiel Carrera took over for him in centre field.
Archer struck out ten in his start, and only allowed one more hit before the 5th, when Carrera doubled with two out. Miguel Montero, who had reached on a dropped third strike, moved to third on the play, then scored on a Ryan Goins single. Aoki scored Carrera with a sac fly. Evan Longoria led off the bottom half of the 5th with a double and moved to third when Carrera made an error. He scored after Wilson Ramos singled.
The Rays padded their lead in the 6th when Dominic Leone gave up back-to-back singles, then Justin Smoak dove on a line drive to turn an unassisted double play. Longoria tripled to drive in the other runner. Josh Donaldson hit a home run in the 8th, his twenty-first of the year. The 9th inning started off with a rally for the Jays – two singles and then a Montero sac fly, making it 6-5. Unfortunately they fell one run short, with a groundout and a lineout stranding the tying run at third.
The Blue Jays hit a season-best six home runs in this game and it was still a close one. They only out-hit the Rays 12-11, and Tampa also hit three homers. Josh Donaldson started things off with a two-run shot in the 1st inning. Ryan Goins led off the 2nd with another home run, then Raffy Lopez hit the first of his career, going back-to-back with Steve Pearce.
The first baserunner Marcus Stroman allowed was a Wilson Ramos infield single (which was originally ruled an out; then overturned on replay) leading off the 3rd. Two outs later, Kevin Kiermaier homered to put Tampa on the board. Steven Souza Jr. hit a solo shot in the 4th, and Stroman stranded a pair of singles. In the 5th, already into the Rays bullpen, Justin Smoak hit a line drive home run to centre field for the 700th hit of his career. Kiermaier hit his second home run of the night in the bottom half of the inning, making it 6-4. The Blue Jays had men on first and second with one out in the 6th, but failed to capitalize.
Stroman allowed two singles with one out in the next frame, then Danny Barnes replaced him and got one out, but Brad Miller scored one run with a single. Kiermaier walked and stole second in the 7th, advancing to third when Lopez overthrew the base. He then scored on a Longoria single, tying the game. But the tie game didn’t last long, as Kevin Pillar led off the 8th with yet another Blue Jay home run. That homer, his thirteenth of the year, sets a new career high for Pillar. Aaron Loup started the 8th for the Jays but Roberto Osuna came in after a two-out single. Osuna got the four-out save, without allowing a baserunner.
Game 3: Thursday, August 24th
Jays lose, 0-2
Losing Pitcher: Tom Koehler
Tom Koehler made his first start in a Blue Jays uniform, allowing just one run in 5.0 innings. He loaded the bases in the 2nd, with a walk, a single and a hit batter. A Daniel Robertson sac fly scored the runner from third. Koehler struck out Kevin Kiermaier swinging to strand the others. He loaded the bases again in the 5th, after two outs, with an Evan Longoria double, a walk, and another hit batter. That time he escaped without any damage, but his night was over.
Dominic Leone struck out the side in order in the 6th, and Tim Mayza pitched an inning and a third with three strikeouts of his own. Danny Barnes took over for Mayza with one out in the 8th, and Corey Dickerson hit a home run off Barnes. Alex Cobb started the game for the Rays but didn’t take the win because he left with one out in the 5th after the Jays forced him to throw 94 pitches.
Through the first three innings, Cobb threw at least five pitches to every batter but one (and threw four to him). The Jays had two singles in the 3rd, and both advanced on a wild pitch, but didn’t score. They got the first two men aboard in the 5th, then Darwin Barney bunted into a forceout. Josh Donaldson hit a line down the left-field foul line, and both runers scored. Then the Rays challenged the fair call, it was reviewed and proven to be foul. Donaldson’s at-bat resumed and he walked to load the bases. Kevin Kiermaier made a diving grab on a Justin Smoak fly ball to end the inning. The Jays had six hits to the Rays’ five, but went down in order four different times. Leadoff singles were stranded in the 1st and 9th.
Tim Mayza was brought up when Nick Tepesch was placed on the paternity list at the beginning of this series. Chris Rowley was sent down to Buffalo after his start, so that Koehler could be brought up.
Kevin Kiermaier was on the DL last week when these two teams met, and his return made a big difference in the Rays’ favour. Not only did he make two defensive catches on Thursday, but he had five hits, two of them home runs, and drove in five of the Rays’ fourteen runs in this series. It’s incredible what a thorn in the side one guy can be.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- The Jays’ six home runs by six different players on Wednesday tied the franchise record for the most individual players to homer in one game.
- Smoak’s home run on Wednesday tied the Blue Jays team record for the most in one season by a Blue Jays switch-hitter (34).
My Favourite Player(s) this Series: Koehler/Pearce/Goins
Tom Koehler’s Blue Jays debut left him on the wrong side of a shutout, but it was a pretty strong start especially considering his ERA was 7.92 coming in. After his 5.0-inning, 1-run start, that number dropped a half run, and now sits at 7.42. He allowed four hits and two walks (plus two hit batsmen) and struck out seven.
Ryan Goins was 4-for-12 with a home run and two RBI, one of the more productive bats in this series.
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