Series Sum-Up: at Los Angeles (AL), June 21-24


Game 1: Thursday, June 21st
Jays lose, 5-8
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Losing Pitcher: John Axford


Aaron Sanchez left the game after the 1st inning, due to a finger contusion. He’d already allowed two runs on a walk and two hits in that inning. The Blue Jays tied the game with a run in each of the 2nd and 3rd innings, both of which were driven in by doubles. Randal Grichuk then led off the 4th with a home run, giving Toronto a 3-2 lead.



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Joe Biagini pitched two scoreless innings before turning things over to John Axford in the 4th. Andrelton Simmons, leading off, reached on a bunt. Kole Calhoun immediately drove him in with a home run that barely cleared the line on the center field wall. The Angels expanded their lead in the 5th. Mike Trout led off with a four-pitch walk, then Axford struck out a pair, but Luis Valbuena homered on Axford’s 15th pitch of the inning. Danny Barnes took over for him in the 6th, walked Calhoun, and Calhoun scored on a Martin Maldonado double.


Barnes then got two outs, but loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Trout and a Justin Upton walk. Preston Guilmet got the final out of the inning, but then allowed another home run to Valbuena leading off the 7th. The Blue Jays got two more runs toward the end of the game – Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit his third home run in the 7th, and Kendrys Morales followed with another solo shot in the 8th. Each team had nine hits, and both teams had the leadoff man get on base four times – Toronto scored him three times (including one home run) and LA scored him four times.


Game 2: Friday, June 22nd
Jays lose, 1-2
Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada


It took only two hours and 17 minutes for Marco Estrada to have a good start, and for the Blue Jays to get thrice as many hits as the Angels but only score one run. The Angels scored their only runs in the 1st, when they managed a two-out rally with a walk, an RBI double from Albert Pujols, and a Luis Valbuena single to score Pujols.


The Blue Jays stranded a leadoff single in the 2nd, then another single in the 3rd. They almost got something going in the 4th, when Kendrys Morales singled with one out, and Kevin Pillar hit into a forceout. Russell Martin singled to right, and Pillar advanced to third as Kole Calhoun overran the ball. Sadly, Pillar would not score because Randal Grichuk grounded out shallowly to the third baseman. Estrada only faced one over the minimum from the 2nd through the 7th inning. A leadoff Pujols single in the 4th was erased on a double play, and then he stranded a walk in the 5th.


The Jays had a double stranded a double in two different innings. Then Devon Travis gave them their only run of the game, hitting a double in the 7th to drive in Aledmys Diaz. They caught a break as Pearce hit a fly ball to center that was called an out, then overturned and ruled a trap, but the umpires made Travis stay at second. Justin Smoak struck out on a called strike that he argued with the umpire about, and Solarte flew out to strand the two runners. Nobody from either team reached base after that.


Game 3: Saturday, June 23rd (Night game)
JAYS WIN!!! 4-1
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Winning Pitcher: Seunghwan Oh
Save: Ryan Tepera


Marcus Stroman shut out the Angels for 5 innings in his first start after returning from the disabled list. Along with Jaime Barria, both starters faced 21 batters, and both struck out five. Stroman allowed six hits and one walk, while his opponent allowed four hits, but walked four. Stroman stranded a pair of hits in the 1st inning, including one which tipped off his glove. He set down the side in order in the 2nd, but then loaded the bases with two singles and a walk, with one out, in the 3rd. He got out of it thanks to a heads-up throw from Kevin Pillar, catching David Fletcher at the plate as he tried to score on a flyout to center.



The Blue Jays had stranded three walks over the first two innings, including one from Curtis Granderson to lead off the game. They broke open the scoring with their first hit – a solo home run by Teoscar Hernandez in the 3rd – and the score remained 1-0 for the next four innings. The Blue Jays stranded a pair, disappointingly, after their first two batters reached base in the 4th. They stranded seven total, and hit into three double plays.


After Stroman left the game, Aaron Loup and Tyler Clippard combined for two shutout innings. Clippard got some help in the 7th from the replay review, because Jose Fernandez hit a leadoff single, then was thrown out advancing to second on a fly-out to left field. Fernandez knocked down Devon Travis, but the replay overturned the safe call as Fernandez was shown to have come off the base. Seunghwan Oh pitched the next inning and struck out the side but Luis Valbuena hit a two-out home run to tie the game.


The Angels sent in Justin Anderson at that point, after three scoreless innings by their bullpen. Russell Martin led off the 9th with a single, but was caught stealing on a failed hit-and-run attempt. Aledmys Diaz then singled, Devon Travis walked, and Steve Pearce hit a home run to give the Jays a decisive lead. Ryan Tepera pitched a perfect bottom of the 9th with two strikeouts, collecting his sixth save of the year.



Game 4: Sunday, June 24th
JAYS WIN!!! 7-6 (10 innings)
Starting Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio
Winning Pitcher: Ryan Tepera
Save: Tyler Clippard


This game followed a similar path to the night before. The Blue Jays pulled ahead on a three-run Devon Travis home run in the 2nd off Felix Pena. Meanwhile, Sam Gaviglio set down all nine batters on his first trip through the order. He struck out the first two batters in the 4th as well, before Justin Upton took a 2-0 sinker for a ride over the center field fence. Gaviglio allowed another batter to reach on a high infield pop-up that neither he nor Justin Smoak went for. It was ruled an error on the pitcher, but a flyout resulted in the runner being stranded.



Then the lead slipped away in the 5th following a trio of singles, the third of which resulted in an RBI and a play at third base to throw out Kole Calhoun, but Martin Maldonado went to second on the throw. That was followed by a wild pitch that brought Maldonado to third base, and Ian Kinsler scored him with a single that tied the game, and ended Gaviglio’s afternoon. Mike Trout reached next on a broken-bat infield single, but Joe Biagini got a groundout to leave a pair. The Blue Jays didn’t waste any time retaking the lead, as Aledmys Diaz led off the 6th with his seventh home run of the year. Curtis Granderson followed suit with a solo shot of his own, which put the Jays on top 5-3.



Diaz led off the 8th as well, and hit a ground ball back to the mound, but Deck McGuire bounced the throw past the first baseman and Albert Pujols was slow to retrieve it, by which point Diaz was standing on third. He scored easily, on a sac fly off the bat of Luke Maile. That proved to be a key insurance run, as the Angels came back again to tie it in the bottom of that inning. John Axford faced two batters, one of whom reached on an error (the ball hit Travis in the groin and he couldn’t complete the throw). Aaron Loup faced three batters; one reached on a Yangervis Solarte throwing error that pulled Smoak off the bag at first, and one walked.


Ryan Tepera came in with the bases loaded and two out, and surrendered a bases-clearing double to Maldonado. Maldonado was then caught stealing in a rundown, begun by Tepera, to end the inning. Both sides went down in order in the 9th, sending the game to extras in a 6-6 tie. With two out, Kendrys Morales pinch-hit for Diaz and hit a home run off Hansel Robles. Maile also doubled, but Travis grounded out to end the inning. Tyler Clippard came in for the 10th, picking up the save by stranding a leadoff infield hit.



Overall Notes:

A lot of roster moves happened this weekend, the first of which was activating Sam Gaviglio from the paternity list on Friday. That went along with Steve Pearce’s return from the disabled list – he hadn’t appeared in a game since the beginning of May. At the same time, Danny Barnes was placed on the DL with left knee tendinitis, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was optioned back to Buffalo.


X-rays on Aaron Sanchez’s finger were negative, and he apparently doesn’t have a blister, but he jammed his finger before the game and it was hurting while he was pitching. The team placed him on the disabled list on Saturday, at the same time as Marcus Stroman was brought back from the DL. At the same time, they placed Jaime Garcia on the DL with inflammation in his shoulder, and called up Tim Mayza.


The Jays were quite homer-happy in this series, with all but one of the 11 runs in their wins getting scored by a home run. They also hit three home runs in Thursday’s loss.


Weirdly specific record alert:

  • With their 8-1 record in extra innings, the Blue Jays have the most extra-inning wins in MLB
  • Kendrys Morales had the first pinch-hit home run by a Blue Jay this season


My favourite player(s) this series: Estrada/Stroman/Pearce

Despite being saddled with the loss, Marco Estrada had a good start on Friday night. He allowed two runs, both in the 1st inning, but got things under control after that, retiring seven batters in a row. He pitched 7 innings total, with three hits and two walks allowed. His seven strikeouts was one of his highest totals all year, even though he only threw 56% strikes. With one start remaining in June, his monthly ERA is 1.75.


Marcus Stroman made his triumphant return to the mound after shoulder fatigue sidelined him for over a month. He was pulled after 81 pitches, but 51 of them were strikes. He kept the Angels scoreless for 5 innings, despite six hits and one walk. This start dropped his ERA by almost a full run.


Steve Pearce also just returned from the disabled list, and he made the most of his limited playing time in this series. He started Games 2 and 4, and was used as a pinch-hitter in Game 3, going 5-for-11 overall with a double and the game-winning, three-run homer on Saturday.


Where we are now:
36-41, .468
4th in the AL East, 15 games back of Boston and New York


After splitting this series, the Jays are headed to Houston to take on the reigning World Series Champion Astros. They Astros rotation is leading MLB in ERA, and the best of them all, Justin Verlander, will take the mound on Monday night. His 1.60 mark is the best in all of MLB, and 0.64 runs better than the next-best AL pitcher, Luis Severino. Verlander will face off against J.A. Happ. Tuesday’s starters are Charlie Morton for the home team, and a pitcher who is yet to be announced for the visitors. Wednesday is a day game, with a 2:10 p.m. Eastern start time, and will put Marco Estrada up against Dallas Keuchel.

On the other side of things, the Jays will also have to contend with Jose Altuve, who currently leads MLB in batting average among qualified hitters, with a mark of .345. He’s the only player with more than 100 hits so far this year, and he has 108.


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