Series Sum-Up: at Kansas City, August 13-16

Danny Jansen

Game 1: Monday, August 13th
Jays lose, 1-3
Losing Pitcher: Sean Reid-Foley


Before he took the mound for his first MLB start, Sean Reid-Foley had the lead. Devon Travis had taken a Brad Keller fastball and deposited it down the left-field line in the stands beyond the bullpen. Reid-Foley allowed a leadoff single to Whit Merrifield, the first batter he faced in the bottom of the 1st, but got Salvador Perez to ground into a double play to end the inning. The double play was started by Russell Martin, who was playing third base because Danny Jansen was also debuting at catcher that night. Martin led off the 2nd with a walk, and two outs later Jansen collected his first MLB hit, a single to left field. Unfortunately, he didn’t get any time on base to relish the moment, because Martin was thrown out at the plate by Alex Gordon.


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Reid-Foley allowed two runs in the 2nd with two outs. First he walked Brett Phillips, then Ryan O’Hearn hit a home run that gave Kansas City the lead. Reid-Foley then struck out Adalberto Mondesi swinging to end the frame, his first career strikeout. Martin made a diving stop on a play to end the 3rd, again retiring Perez. Randal Grichuk led off the 4th with a single, but was easily thrown out as part of a failed hit-and-run play when Martin struck out.



Reid-Foley got into a jam in the 4th, when the leadoff man singled, the next one walked, and another single loaded the bases with nobody out. O’Hearn then walked and forced in a run. But further damage was avoided, as Mondesi popped out to the second baseman and Alcides Escobar hit into a double play. Reid-Foley’s final line was 5 innings pitched, with three runs allowed on six hits, three walks, and three strikeouts. Keller pitched 7 innings, only allowing one more hit – a Curtis Granderson single, which was erased on a double play in the 6th. Jansen threw out the first baserunner to challenge his arm, Rosell Herrra trying to take second base. He also hit an infield single to the third baseman in the 8th against Brandon Maurer, then advanced on a wild pitch, and Granderson walked. But Travis squashed the chance for a rally when he flew out to deep center field on the first pitch of his at-bat.


Game 2: Tuesday, August 14th
JAYS WIN!! 6-5
Starting Pitcher: Ryan Borucki
Winning Pitcher: Jake Petricka
Save: Ken Giles


The Blue Jays pulled off the win despite having half as many hits (six) as their opponent. Hunter Dozier was the only Royal without one – Adalberto Mondesi had four in four at-bats, and three stolen bases. But the Jays capitalized on seven walks, and a late home run gave them the lead. The first two batters of the 2nd inning walked, then Russell Martin hit a single that went off the shortstop’s glove, but the runner was held at third. Aledmys Diaz came up with the bases loaded and nobody out, and hit into a double play on the first pitch – but that brought in a run. Kevin Pillar hit an RBI single to make it 2-0 Toronto. Ryan Borucki also walked the first two batters of that inning, but a double play got him out of the jam.


The Jays tied it in the in the 3rd, but failed to capitalize with the bases loaded again. Heath Fillmyer walked Curtis Granderson on four pitches, then Justin Smoak doubled and Kendrys Morales walked with two outs. Filmyer hit Martin, forcing in a run, before whiffing Diaz to end the frame. Borucki wasn’t so fortunate. A one-out double to Mondesi came around to score on a Whit Merrifield single, then a stolen base and another single made it 3-2, before Salvador Perez drove in the tying run with a double. Danny Jansen put Toronto ahead with his first career home run in the 4th.


The Royals quickly countered with a two-out rally, Alcides Escobar hitting a double and being brought in by Mondesi’s single. After getting to a 3-0 count on Merrifield, Borucki opted to intentionally walk him, and then walked Alex Gordon unintentionally. He struck out Perez to end the inning, and his start, four innings pitched and four runs allowed. It was the only strikeout of the start. Joe Biagini came in next, and gave up a hit but got a double play. In the 6th, Brett Phillips reached on a bunt single, but Jansen caught him stealing. Thomas Pannone struck out his only batter faced in the 7th, but Jake Petricka allowed a run on back-to-back doubles.


Diaz walked in the 8th, and Blaine Boyer was one strike away from getting out of the inning, but Kevin Pillar hit a line drive homer to left, putting Toronto ahead 6-5. Tyler Clippard and Ken Giles each recorded two strikeouts in their innings of work, and Giles sealed the win with his second save for Toronto.



Game 3: Wednesday, August 15th
JAYS WIN!!! 6-5
Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Save: Ken Giles


For the second consecutive day, the start time of the game was slightly delayed by rain. The Royals came storming out of the gate with a leadoff walk to Whit Merrifield and two-run Salvador Perez homer. The Blue Jays got one back in the 2nd off the bat of Kevin Pillar, who singled to plate a leadoff Teoscar Hernandez double. Richard Ureña was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Randal Grichuk single in the 3rd; Grichuk moved to second on the throw, and third on a wild pitch, but was left there.


Down 2-1, the Jays broke out in the 4th, scoring five runs on four hits against Jorge Lopez. Hernandez led off with an infield single on the first pitch, and then Lopez hit Russell Martin in the arm with the second pitch of that at-bat. Pillar’s bloop single scored Hernandez, tying the game, and Aledmys Diaz singled to load the bases. The next two batters were a strikeout and a foul flyout to third, and for a moment it looked like Lopez might get out of it. But on a 2-0 count, Curtis Granderson hit a grand slam to right field, putting the Jays on top for good. It was the tenth grand slam of Granderson’s career, and his second this season (the other was also against the Royals). Grichuk struck out to end the inning, but the damage was done.


Since Perez’s home run in the 1st, Estrada had retired eight consecutive batters. Then he faced Perez again, this time leading off the 4th, and Perez homered again. Lopez walked the last two batters he faced, with two outs in the 5th, before Burch Smith replaced him and stranded both. Smith also stranded the bases loaded in the 6th, and Estrada got a double play to escape in the bottom half after allowing a bunt single and a bloop single. He ran into trouble in the 7th, however, with a Brett Phillips two-out triple that was cashed in by Alcides Escobar. He was pulled in favor of Ryan Tepera, who got a groundout. Ken Giles allowed a pinch-hit home run to Ryan O’Hearn in the 9th, but collected the save anyways.


Game 4: Thursday, August 16th
Jays lose, 2-6
Losing Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio


The final game of the series was delayed by rain more than the others, with 2 hours and 14 minutes passing before the first pitch was finally thrown. Glenn Sparkman, who the Jays had picked up from the Royals in the Rule 5 draft last year, then released back to Kansas City, made the start for the home team. He gave up a run in the 2nd inning, after walking Teoscar Hernandez, allowing a double to Kevin Pillar, and Danny Jansen hit a sac fly to score Hernandez. Sparkman then hit Aledmys Diaz with a pitch, but Diaz was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the inning.


Lucas Duda led off and homered in the bottom of that inning, tying the game. Jorge Bonifacio also singled, but was thrown out by Hernandez trying to stretch a double. The Blue Jays retook their lead in the 4th, when Justin Smoak led off with a single, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored from second on a Kendrys Morales single. Pillar also singled that inning, but the two runners were stranded. Gaviglio had a runner at first, attempted to make a pickoff throw but didn’t follow through properly, and the ball crossed the first-base line. It was called a balk, then the umpires and managers held a lengthy discussion to determine the rules. Eventually it was upheld, and the runner was given second base.


It turned out to be a moot point, because Bonifacio tripled and tied the game. A single and a double brought in two more runs, with all three being hit to Hernandez. Both extra-base hits bounced around some before being fielded. Gaviglio left the game in the 5th with two runners on and one out. Tim Mayza allowed an RBI double to Rosell Herrera before getting out of it, striking out Ryan O’Hearn with the bases loaded. The Blue Jays stranded two runners of their own (one of which was Jansen, who reached on an infield single) in the 6th, then Jake Petricka allowed a run on two singles. The Jays had two more runners, but nobody scored. Each team stranded seven runners.


Overall Notes:

With Sean Reid-Foley being activated for his major-league debut on Monday, Brandon Cumpton was designated for assignment, and Danny Barnes was optioned to Buffalo. On Wednesday, it was Thomas Pannone’s turn to be optioned, with Tim Mayza returning.


Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • Sean Reid-Foley and Danny Jansen on Monday became the first Blue Jays’ rookie pitcher and catcher to make their first MLB start in the same game.
  • The last time an American League team had rookie batterymates both making their first starts was 51 years ago.
  • Reid-Foley is the first Blue Jays pitcher with a hyphenated last name.
  • He is also the first ever pitcher in MLB history born in Guam (there was only one other Guam-born player, John Hattig, who was a third baseman who also played for the Blue Jays in 2006).
  • Jansen is the 19th Blue Jays rookie with two hits in his debut game, as well as the 4th
  • Devon Travis hit his 33rd career home run on Monday. That moves him into 4th place on the Blue Jays’ all-time list as a second baseman.
  • Russell Martin is the third Canadian-born player to play in 1,600 MLB games. Wednesday’s game was his 1,600th.


My favourite player(s) this week: Jansen/Martin/Pillar/Estrada

It’s hard to envision a rookie having a better debut series than Danny Jansen. He got a hit in his first at-bat, then collected three more, to finish 4-for-10 in three games. He also hit his first career home run, and collected another RBI with a sac fly on Thursday. Additionally, his arm behind the plate was tested, and he gunned down two baserunners. Both Sean Reid-Foley and Ryan Borucki played with Jansen in the minors, and both mentioned feeling comfortable with him behind the plate.


As of this series, Russell Martin has a 13-game streak of reaching base. He was only 2-for-8 in three games, but also walked twice, drove in a run, scored once, and was hit with two pitches. Martin played third base and didn’t catch at all in this series, but he still had some defensive highlights, including ranging to his right for this strong play in Game 2.


Kevin Pillar was hitless in Game 1, but collected two hits in each of the subsequent games, finishing 6-for-14. He hit a double and a home run, and drove in five runs, with his two-run homer making the difference in Game 2. Pillar scored twice, and also walked.


His first two times through the KC order, Sal Perez was the only batter to get a hit off Marco Estrada. He struggled a little more the third time through, but some of that was due to batted-ball luck. In typical Estrada fashion, he only got four outs on the ground, two of which were an inning-ending double play in the 6th. He completed 6 2/3 innings, allowed four runs on six hits, walked only one (the first hitter of the game) and struck out three.


Where we are now:
55-66, .454
4th in the AL East, 30.5 games back of Boston


Following this series the Blue Jays will go to New York over the weekend to play the Yankees. The Yankees currently have the first wild card, three games ahead of the Oakland Athletics. But Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are both on the DL, and they’ve dropped three of their last four games. Marcus Stroman will take the opener, against Lance Lynn, one of the Yankees’ deadline acquisitions. Another of their trade acquisitions, former Blue Jay J.A. Happ, will start on Sunday. Sean Reid-Foley will make his second career start on Saturday opposite Luis Severino.


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