Game 1: Tuesday, July 20th
JAYS WIN! 5-1
Winning Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Edwin Encarnacion continues his run of leading MLB in RBI by hitting a three-run homer in the 3rd inning off Zack Godley. The other two runs scored by the Blue Jays could be attributed to pitchers’ errors; in the 5th, Godley airmailed first base on a pickoff attempt, allowing Devon Travis to go all the way to third and subsequently score on a Josh Donaldson single. Then, in the 9th, pinch-runner Andy Burns reached second base on another failed pickoff attempt (this time by reliever Dominic Leone) and advanced to third on a wild pitch. From there, he scored easily on a Travis groundout.
Aaron Sanchez pitched seven innings with six hits, one earned run, five strikeouts and no walks. He fielded a ball to start off a double play and escape a two-on, one-out jam in the 4th. Sanchez also reached base for the first time as a major-leaguer, with a leadoff walk in the 7th. Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna each pitched a scoreless inning, with a walk allowed by Grilli as the only baserunner between the two. The lone Diamondbacks run came in the 1st inning when Jean Segura led off with a single, stole second, then advanced to third and scored on back-to-back groundouts. Paul Goldschmidt was credited with the RBI.
Game 2: Wednesday, July 21st (day game)
JAYS WIN! 10-4
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
After Stroman’s previous outing against Oakland, and after the way he began this game (the first two batters had hits, one scored), you could be excused for not being terribly optimistic. Stroman has always been one to show up his doubters, and he buckled down after that one run and didn’t allow a second one through his eight innings of work. He allowed eight hits, struck out six and didn’t walk anyone. Brett Cecil started the 9th but only got one out before allowing three consecutive hits, including a three-run homer to Tuffy Gosewisch (I promise, that’s a real name). Joe Biagini came in and got the remaining two outs, including a strikeout, to end the game.
The Jays offense was merciless, with thirteen hits, eight of which were for extra bases. Josh Donaldson had a two-run home run in the 1st inning to open the scoring, Junior Lake and Devon Travis each doubled in the 2nd (unfortunately, Lake was erased trying to reach third) and Travis scored on a sac fly. A walk, fielder’s choice, double and single in the 5th scored two more runs, and they weren’t done yet. Travis and Donaldson both doubled in the 6th, Donaldson driving Travis in, and then Darwin Barney scored two more with a triple in the 8th. Edwin Encarnacion brought Barney home with his 26th home run of the season, a 471-foot drive that was the third-longest homer hit by anyone so far this year.
Darwin Barney played left field on Wednesday, and actually did a quite capable job of it, considering he’s never played in the outfield in the majors before.
Record Coincidence Alert:
When scorekeeping, I noticed something odd about Wednesday’s game. The number of hits they had in each inning matched exactly with how many were hit by the person in the corresponding spot in the batting order. For example, they had two hits in the second inning, and Josh Donaldson (batting second) also had two. They had no hits in the 9th inning, and number nine hitter Marcus Stroman didn’t get a hit either. The hit totals were, in order from one to nine, 2-2-1-0-2-2-1-3-0.
My favourite player(s) this series: Travis/Stroman
Devon Travis’ bat was on fire in these two games. He went 5-for-10 (.500) with two doubles, scored all five times on base, and drove in a run. He started two double plays, also apparently promised first base coach Tim Leiper two hits for his birthday Tuesday night, and delivered!
Marcus Stroman’s pitching performance was undoubtedly dominant, over eight innings with only one run allowed, six strikeouts and no walks. But my favourite part of this particular game was his offense. Even though we tend to worry about pitchers hurting themselves on the basepaths, Stroman slid twice confidently into second base. He successfully sacrifice bunted twice, and reached base twice on errors. He even contributed to his own run support, scoring on Darwin Barney’s triple. I love the DH, but Stroman hitting is really fun to watch every now and then.
Where we are now:
Third place in the AL East, 1.5 games back of Boston
The good news is, they just won three in a row, and Jose Bautista is on his way back to the team, rehabbing this week in AAA-Buffalo. There is no bad news this time around, as a fun two-game sweep has left me feeling rather optimistic.
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