Series Sum-Up: at Boston, July 12-15


Game 1: Thursday, July 12th
Jays lose, 4-6
Losing Pitcher: J.A. Happ


In his final start before appearing in the All-Star Game, J.A. Happ only went 3 2/3 innings and allowed five runs, none of which were earned. The Jays leapt out to a two-run lead in the 1st thanks to a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. double, and a Teoscar Hernandez home run. They were facing David Price, who pitched into the 7th and allowed six hits and no walks. Happ struck out six, including one to strand a pair after J.D. Martinez singled and he hit Steve Pearce in the 1st inning.


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A leadoff Jackie Bradley Jr. single was stranded in the 3rd, even after Bradley stole second base. The trouble for Happ arrived in the 4th, after Xander Bogaerts led off with a single, and Brock Holt reached on a force attempt that Devon Travis dropped. Eduardo Nunez singled on a ball back to Happ, then Sandy Leon drove in a run with a forceout. Happ walked Jackie Bradley Jr., loading the bases. He then battled Mookie Betts for 12 pitches – including six consecutive foul balls, one of which Justin Smoak almost caught – before Betts launched the 13th pitch out of the park for a grand slam.


Joe Biagini was brought in to get the final out of that inning, and then retired the next six batters in order. Meanwhile Price allowed three hits, all singles, from the 2nd to the 6th, but no runs, until Kendrys Morales led off the 7th with a home run. Against John Axford, Bradley doubled to lead off the 8th; he then scored on a Betts single but Betts was out on a double play. The Blue Jays picked up one more run in the 8th with three hits off Matt Barnes. Craig Kimbrel recorded the save for Boston, despite allowing a single to Travis and then throwing a wild pitch that let him reach second. Travis had been 4-for-4, although he lucked out with one infield single (he was then thrown out trying to advance) and one single that deflected off the shortstop. The Jays had out-hit the Sox 11-8.


Game 2: Friday, July 13th
JAYS WIN!!! 13-7
Starting Pitcher: Ryan Borucki
Winning Pitcher: Jake Petricka


Both starters had extremely short outings in a slugfest that ended Boston’s 10-game win streak. Fresh off tormenting the Jays the day before, Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the 1st inning with a triple off the center field wall. He then scored when J.D. Martinez hit a ground ball to shortstop and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. opted to throw home, but threw it away instead. The Blue Jays took a 3-1 lead in the 2nd thanks to two walks, an RBI double from Kevin Pillar, a sac fly from Dwight Smith Jr. and an RBI single from Gurriel.


But the Red Sox took back those runs and more in the bottom half, as four hits and three errors led to five runs for the home team. After a one-out walk, Sandy Leon reached on a fielding error, an RBI single was hit to center, and both runners advanced on a throwing error by Pillar. Betts scored both with another triple, and Brock Holt drove him in with a single. Holt then stole second, where Borucki attempted to pick him off, but the throw was offline and Holt got to third instead. He scored on a single and Borucki walked one before Eduardo Nunez grounded out to second, ending the 10-batter inning the same way he’d begun it.


Justin Smoak quickly got a run back, leading off the 3rd with a homer. Again coming up with Morales and Martin on base, Pillar doubled, this time scoring them both to tie the game. Smith then wrapped his second home run of the season around the Pesky Pole, putting Toronto ahead 8-6. Rick Porcello was forced out of the game after allowing the first five batters of the inning to score. Borucki left the game after allowing the first three runners to reach in the 4th; one would score. Bogaerts was caught at home in a rundown before Jake Petricka stranded the bases loaded.


It remained a one-run game for the next three innings. Joe Kelly didn’t retire a batter in the 8th – he hit Gurriel, then two singles scored a run. His replacement allowed an RBI double to Morales, and Pillar picked up his fourth RBI and fourth hit of the game, with a single. They padded the lead again in the 9th after Curtis Granderson was hit with a pitch, and Holt didn’t catch a pop-up at second base, making a forceout instead. Smoak then blasted a pitch over the Green Monster for his second home run of the game. The Jays topped the Sox 14-12 in hits, and 7-4 in walks.


Game 3: Saturday, July 14th
Jays lose, 2-6 (10 innings)
Starting Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio
Blown Save: Tyler Clippard
Losing Pitcher: Chris Rowley


Sam Gaviglio made a brief start, after only throwing 48 pitches against Atlanta a few days ago, he threw 56 over 3 1/3 innings of work. Gaviglio was the only Blue Jays pitcher to allow an unintentional walk, and he allowed four hits, but the only run he allowed was a solo homer from J.D. Martinez in the 4th. The Blue Jays got the leadoff man aboard twice against Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez, but nothing came of it. He was forced to leave the game in the 6th after Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled to the first baseman and slid headfirst into the bag. Rodriguez, rushing over to cover the bag, tried to pull up and stop but tripped over Gurriel, kicking him in the back of the neck.

Gurriel received concussion testing while Rodriguez limped off the field. It was the second unusual play of the game to result in an injury for the Jays. In the bottom of the 3rd, with men on first and second, Brock Holt looped a fly ball into shallow center field. Kevin Pillar made a diving catch and then threw to second to double off the runner, ending the inning. Once back in the dugout, Pillar realized there was something severely wrong with his shoulder and he was replaced by Dwight Smith Jr., with Randal Grichuk moving into center field.



The Blue Jays scored their runs in the 7th, with a single from Kendrys Morales and a double from Smith to start the inning. Morales scored on a groundout, and Gurriel singled to plate Smith and put the Jays ahead 2-1. Teoscar Hernandez then turned another double play from the outfield in the bottom half of that inning, making the catch in left field and then doubling Blake Swihart off at first base because the infielders pretended it was a ground ball. Tyler Clippard picked up his fifth blown save of the season, allowing back-to-back doubles to start off the 9th. Jackie Bradley took the RBI but was stranded at second as the game was sent to extras.


Chris Rowley, just recalled that day, entered to pitch the bottom of the 10th. With one out, Betts reached on a grounder that went under Gurriel’s glove, then Holt singled and Rowley intentionally walked Martinez. On a 2-0 count, Bogaerts hit Boston’s second grand slam of the series to walk off the game. Every run was scored by the first four batters in their lineup.


Game 4: Sunday, July 15th
Jays lose, 2-5
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman


The Blue Jays finished off the first half with another loss in which they out-hit their opponents (8-6). Marcus Stroman threw 5 innings, and allowed the first run in the 1st on a Xander Bogaerts home run. That was followed by an unearned run, when Stroman walked J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland reached on a Devon Travis fielding error, a forceout advanced Martinez, and a Brock Holt single drove him in. Brian Johnson walked three Blue Jays in the first two innings, but nobody scored until Randal Grichuk doubled to lead off the 3rd and Teoscar Hernandez tied the game with a two-run homer, his 15th of the season.


Sandy Leon singled leading off the bottom of the 2nd inning, but was thrown out trying to stretch a double. Stroman retired the next eight batters in order, including four strikeouts. Leon then led off the 5th with a double. Jackie Bradley Jr. drove him in with another double, putting the Red Sox up 3-2, and then Bogaerts widened that lead when he plated Bradley on a groundout. With Stroman out of the game after that inning, Aaron Loup walked one batter, hit another, and then allowed an RBI single to Holt. He left the game without getting an out, and Jake Petricka stranded the two inherited runners.


The Jays had a rally going with a pair of singles in the 7th, but Yangervis Solarte hit into a double play to end it. Martin threw out Betts trying to advance on a wild ball that caromed off the backstop in the bottom of the 7th. They then loaded the bases on three singles in the next inning, but Dwight Smith Jr. stranded them all by striking out. Jaime Garcia entered to pitch the bottom of the 8th, his first relief appearance of the year and his first time back after a rehab assignment. He threw 20 pitches, only five of which were strikes, and five of which were balls in the dirt. He avoided any runs by getting a double play; Chris Rowley had to get the final out of the inning. Craig Kimbrel struck out a pair of Blue Jays to get his 30th save of the season.


Overall Notes: 

I went to Boston this weekend to see the Jays, and went to Fenway for Friday’s game. I’ll have a post up about that trip shortly!


This series featured a ton of errors from Blue Jays defenders, with eight total in the four games. The last time they made that many in a single series was back in 2007. Nearly every infielder made one, as did one pitcher and one outfielder. Ironically, the game in which they made the most errors (four, on Friday) was the game they won.


This series also involved an insane amount of roster moves, both with players getting injured and pitchers returning from the DL. At one point, they had 11 pitchers in the bullpen, leaving a two-man bench of Curtis Granderson and Luke Maile. Even before that, they were forced to employ some unusual infield configurations, with Russell Martin playing third base and Yangervis Solarte at first after Granderson was used as a pinch-runner for Justin Smoak late in Thursday’s game. Solarte played first again on Saturday in extra innings, again because Smoak was pinch-run for.


First, Marco Estrada was placed on the disabled list on Friday with a glute strain. He’d been scheduled to start on Saturday, but Sam Gaviglio made that start instead. Dwight Smith Jr. was called up at the same time. Teoscar Hernandez was scratched from the lineup shortly before Friday’s game with an ankle injury and Smith took his place in the outfield – however, Hernandez was not placed on the DL and went on to play in the next two games of the series.  Ryan Borucki was optioned to the Bisons on Saturday, as Chris Rowley was recalled. Jaime Garcia was activated for Sunday’s game, as was Ryan Tepera (before he even had a chance to pitch in a rehab game). Tepera returned to the mound on Sunday and threw a scoreless innings with one strikeout, and only one walk allowed.


Those moves were made after two players got injured on Saturday. Lourdes Gurriel didn’t exhibit concussion symptoms after colliding with Eduardo Rodriguez, but shortly after the game he reported them and was therefore placed on the 7-day concussion DL. Kevin Pillar’s shoulder injury will likely sideline him for 4-6 weeks, however (as detailed here) that type of injury can be very serious, even fatal, if the sprain stretches the joint in the opposite direction.


My favourite player(s) of the series: Biagini/Smoak/Hernandez/Gurriel

Joe Biagini pitched twice in this series, totalling 3 1/3 scoreless innings. On Thursday, he went 2 1/3 innings, retiring all seven batters he faced, including  a pair of strikeouts. On Saturday, he allowed only one hit, an infield single that advanced on an error. He then stranded that runner at third base with a strikeout.

These great outings came shortly after he offered the following insightful quote putting into perspective his poor track record as a starter: “You’ve been given all of these unbelievable, incredible opportunities. Getting kind of candid, growing up a white, tall, male … that’s a lot of advantages, right? And then I’m healthy, I have a nice family and then to throw on top of that the baseball thing, where I get to make it to the major leagues … it’s like if this would have been an absolute disaster, well, the cherry on the top was rotten. Aw, darn. But I had the whole cake.”


Justin Smoak was 5-for-17 with two walks in this series, and especially made an impact with his bat on Friday night. He was 3-for-5 that game with a walk, mashing two homers and driving in four runs. He also plated a run with a double on Thursday. Smoak is now tied for the team lead in home runs.


Teoscar Hernandez also hit two home runs in the series, going 3-for-11 overall with two walks and four RBI. He also made an important defensive play on Saturday, throwing to first base to double off a runner after making the catch in left field.


Before getting a concussion and missing Sunday’s game, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s bat was on fire in this series. He was 7-for-14 (.500) with a double and two RBI, including a 3-hit game on Saturday. That also gave him a four-game multi-hit streak. He’s the first Blue Jays rookie to do that since Adam Lind in 2006.


Where we are now:
43-52, .453
4th in the AL East, 23.5 games back of Boston

After the All-Star Break, during which J.A. Happ is the lone Blue Jays representative, they will head home to face the Baltimore Orioles for three games. The Orioles have a 28-69 record, and have just traded Manny Machado to the LA Dodgers. Sam Gaviglio and Dylan Bundy will face off on Friday night.


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