Game 1: Friday, August 19th
Jays lose, 2-3
Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Losing Pitcher: Roberto Osuna (Blown Save)
The Blue Jays got an early lead when Russell Martin homered off Trevor Bauer in the 1st, driving in a Michael Saunders walk. That would be all the runs they’d get, in spite of four more hits off Bauer over eight innings. Saunders ground into a double play in the 3rd, and a walk and a single were both stranded in the fourth. The Blue Jays also struck out thirteen times against the Cleveland right-hander.
Francisco Lirinao had a solid start with five scoreless innings, but ran into trouble in the 6th when Jason Kipnis singled with one out, advanced to second on a passed ball, and then Devon Travis made a catching error on Martin’s throw, allowing Kipnis to reach third. It was Travis’ second error of the game. Mike Napoli singled, scoring Kipnis and making the game 2-1. Lirinao walked the next hitter, but got a strikeout to escape the jam. He allowed four hits and the one run was unearned. Joaquin Benoit and Jason Grilli each threw an inning and held the lead.
Roberto Osuna entered the 9th and gave up a one-out homer to Jose Ramirez that tied the game. Then chaos happened – Tyler Naquin hit a ball to right-center field, over Michael Saunders’ head. The ball ricocheted off the wall and Melvin Upton Jr. didn’t get to it in time, slipped trying to retrieve it, and by the time he threw it back in, it was too late. Naquin scored, giving Cleveland a walkoff win on an inside-the-park home run.
Game 2: Saturday, August 20th (night game)
JAYS WIN! 6-5
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Winning Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Save: Roberto Osuna
Once again, the Blue Jays got an early two-run lead, this time in the 2nd. Darwin Barney singled with two outs, then Ryan Goins doubled and Devon Travis drove them both home with a single. They added three runs in the 3rd, after a pair of home runs from Russell Martin and Melvin Upton Jr.
Sanchez had to exit after four innings, but he’d started off strong. With one out in the bottom of the third, Goins made an error which allowed Cleveland their first baserunner of the game. After reassuring his shortstop, Sanchez got the next hitter to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Baby Giraffe totally got your back. #BlueJayshttps://t.co/3akLZqznHS pic.twitter.com/nh9c3yDlzB
— Daryl (@ateDARYL) August 21, 2016
The 4th was where things really fell apart, as Sanchez walked the leadoff hitter, and the next one reached on an error by Devon Travis. A single loaded the bases with nobody out, and a sac fly scored the first run. Jose Ramirez singled to drive in another, then Lonnie Chisenhall homered and lo, the game was tied 5-5. Sanchez gave up another hit, bringing his total to four, but got the next two outs.
Luckily for Sanchez, the offense picked him up as Edwin Encarnacion led off the next inning with a home run to retake the lead. Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin only lasted 4.1 innings, after the Jays got nine hits and six runs off of him. They would end up with fourteen hits, stranding a pair in each of the 6th and 7th innings. Cleveland had six hits total, as Joe Biagini, Joaquin Benoit, Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna finished out the game for Toronto. Biagini threw two innings, the others one apiece. Each had one strikeout.
Game 3: Sunday, August 21st
Jays lose, 2-3
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Losing Pitcher: Brett Cecil (Blown save)
In the third game of the series, the Jays got their two-run lead in the 3rd inning. Melvin Upton led off with a home run, then Devon Travis doubled with two outs and Josh Donaldson drove him in. Meahwhile, Marcus Stroman allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in each of the first three innings, but stranded one and erased the others on a pair of double plays. He kept Cleveland scoreless until the 6th when the first three hitters singled, driving in a run. In total, he would go 7.1 innings, allowing one run on seven hits and a walk, and striking out nine. The defense turned three double plays behind him.
Brett Cecil replaced Stroman with one out in the 8th, and after retiring the first hitter he faced, allowed a single and then a home run to Jose Ramirez which gave Cleveland the lead.
I think a playoff series against Cleveland would be incredibly stress-inducing. Between their close-scoring four-game series in July (who could forget the marathon on Canada Day), and this series, where they lost the lead in late innings twice, I would not look forward to that possibility.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- With his home run on Saturday, Edwin Encarnacion joined Carlos Delgado and Jose Bautista as the only players in Blue Jays history to have four consecutive seasons with 35 or more home runs and 100 or more RBI
My favourite player(s) this series: Stroman/Martin*
Only allowing one run with you’ve given up seven hits isn’t easy to do, but with a little help from his defense Marcus Stroman made it look that way, needing 100 pitches to get through 28 batters. He also struck out nine, only walked one, and didn’t allow any extra-base hits.
Russell Martin was a key part of the offense in this series, as his pair of home runs scored three runs. His reaction to Osuna’s save on Saturday was also wonderful – during their ‘knock-knock’ celebration he seemed very proud of the closer who’d redeemed himself after a disastrous outing the day before.
Back to the original Osuna/Martin knock knock this time. pic.twitter.com/WQwol9TJXC
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) August 21, 2016
*I considered including Melvin Upton here, because of his two home runs, but his
brain fart defensive miscue possibly cost them Game 1. Devon Travis was also a possibility, as he had five hits and two RBI, but he also made three errors which isn’t exactly great. Nobody was consistently strong in this series.
Where we are now:
1st in the AL East, half a game ahead of Boston
The bad news is, two late-game bullpen losses will leave a sour taste for this series.
The good news is, no more playing Cleveland in the regular season, and the Jays are still in first!
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