Game 1: Thursday, September 15th
JAYS WIN!! 7-2
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Josh Donaldson made his triumphant return to the lineup after missing the previous series with a sore hip. Acting as the DH, Donaldson was 3-for-3 with two doubles, a pair of walks and also scored two runs. After the three scoreless innings in which they got caught in two double plays and stranded one, Toronto chased LA starter Daniel Wright from the game after five. Donaldson scored the first run of the game, doubling in the 4th and scoring on a Jose Bautista single. A Russell Martin sac fly plated another run. They went down in order in the 5th, but then Wright walked the leadoff man in the 6th and was pulled. Three batters and another walk later, Martin would homer to put the Blue Jays up 5-0.
In the 6th, Happ fielded a comebacker behind his back to make the first out. He left the game in the 7th after the first batter reached on a Darwin Barney error and the second (Andrelton Simmons) hit a home run. Up to that point, Happ had kept the Angels scoreless. He allowed just three hits and three walks, and got some defensive help from Jose Bautista on two Mike Trout balls hit into right field.
— Daryl (@ateDARYL) September 16, 2016
Joaquin Benoit finished 7th, and Jason Grilli pitched around two one-out singles in the 8th to maintain Toronto’s lead. They didn’t need to, but the Blue Jays added on two more runs in the 9th. Kevin Pillar hit a one-out double, Darwin Barney singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and then Devon Travis scored both of them with a single. Donaldson singled, and Edwin Encarnacion walked to load the bases, but then Jose Bautista ground into a double play to end the inning. They got ten hits to LA’s six, and Roberto Osuna closed out the game, giving Happ his 19th win of the year.
Game 2: Friday, September 16th
JAYS WIN!! 5-0
Winning Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
Dickey got himself into an early jam in the 1st, loading the bases on two hits (including the first of Albert Pujols’ career off the knuckleballer) and a walk. But he escaped with a foul flyout and gave up no runs, only one hit in each of the 2nd, 3rd and 5th. He started the 6th but after two singles with nobody out, Joe Biagini came in. Biagini walked the first batter to load the bases, but struck out Nick Buss and then made a smart play on a comeback grounder – getting a forceout at home plate. After that, Caleb Cowart flew out, once again leaving the bases loaded with no damage.
They Jays had a shot at a rally in the 3rd with two on and nobody out, but Darwin Barney was caught straying too far from second base, and then a strikeout, walk and forceout ended the inning. Troy Tulowitzki got the scoring started in the 4th with a two-run homer, driving in a Jose Bautista walk. The leadoff reached base in five of the first six innings, but Bautista would be the only one to score. Another 9th-inning rally for the Jays resulted in three runs scoring. Russell Martin led off with a double, Devon Travis singled and then a Josh Donaldson sac fly scored Martin. Edwin Encarnacion hit his 40th home run of the year to put the Jays ahead by five. Joaquin Benoit, Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna combined for three innings of scoreless relief to complete the shutout.
Game 3: Saturday, September 17th (evening game)
Jays lose, 1-6
Losing Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
With two singles and a double, Devon Travis extended his team-best-this-season hit streak to 14 games. All three of his hits led off an inning; he was stranded twice and caught trying to advance to third on a fielder’s choice in the 5th. They also got two leadoff singles from Russell Martin, one of which he followed with a stolen base, the other erased on a double play. Their lone run was the result of another leadoff single, from Edwin Encarnacion in the 8th. Encarnacion got to third after two more singles and scored on a Melvin Upton sac fly. A walk then loaded the bases, but they were stranded full of Blue Jays.
In spite of three double plays turned behind Francisco Liriano – one in each of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings – he took the loss, allowing four runs, two of them earned. He gave up a solo home run to Albert Pujols in the 2nd, and a leadoff walk to Andrelton Simmons in the 5th. Simmons advanced to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a Shane Robinson single. The two unearned runs were the result of a Justin Smoak error that allowed Mike Trout to reach in the 9th. A groundout would score Kole Calhoun, and a single scored Trout. Josh Donaldson made another error in the 7th which would have been the third out of the inning, but then two more runs scored as Calhoun and Trout proceeded to double and single off Ryan Tepera.
Game 4: Sunday, September 18th
Jays lose, 0-4
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Don’t let the end result fool you, Marcus Stroman actually pitched a fairly strong game. He gave up seven hits over six innings, but walked just two, struck out three and stranded eight. With two runs allowed, he took the loss because his offense was shut out. He also didn’t let a swarm of bees on the field in the 3rd inning distract him, in spite of the 13-minute delay they caused.
The first Angels run was the result of an Albert Pujols leadoff walk in the 2nd inning, which was followed by a single, a forceout and catcher’s interference. Juan Graterol had the RBI groundout. Troy Tulowitzki erased a would-be run in the 4th with a sharp throw to home. The second run came on back-to-back doubles by Mike Trout and Pujols, although Jose Bautista’s throw home came close to nabbing Trout. Trout and Pujols would be the only Angels to score in the whole game, as they each scored in the 7th when Joe Biagini allowed two hits and two walks.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 200th double as a Blue Jay in the 4th, but was erased on a fielder’s choice in a carbon-copy of the play made on Devon Travis two days earlier. In total, the Blue Jays had four hits, and five walks (including a four-pitch one to Kevin Pillar). They ground into two double plays, and stranded seven.
In a funny twist of coincidence, Sportsnet analyst Gregg Zaun said prior to Thursday’s game that, given their recent struggles, they weren’t just ‘going to randomly start scoring seven runs a game’. That night they scored exactly seven runs.
In spite of the fact that they won two games, and had five-run margins in both, this was still a frustrating series offensively. As mentioned before, they frequently got the leadoff hitter on base, and then couldn’t score him – at a rate of 5/20 across 36 innings. Twice the bases were loaded at the end of an inning. Thirty-three baserunners total would be stranded over the course of the series – 5 on Thursday, 9 Friday, 12 Saturday, 7 Sunday.
Troy Tulowitzki has the optimistic quotes from this series, via Barry Davis:
Tulo postgame: “, I’m still trying to hold out hope that this is going to be that point where we really have to dig down deep”. #BlueJays
— Barry Davis (@SNBarryDavis) September 19, 2016
More Tulo “We like where we’re at (holding playoff spot), obviously we know we can play better, and hopefully that comes out real soon.”
— Barry Davis (@SNBarryDavis) September 19, 2016
My favourite player(s) this series: Donaldson/Martin/Travis/Happ
He fell back into a mini-slump (0-for-7 with a walk) in the last two games, but in the first two Josh Donaldson was legitimately on fire. Between Thursday and Friday he was 4-for-5 with two doubles, four walks, an RBI and three runs scored.
Russell Martin had four hits including a home run in the series, a sac fly, four RBI, scored twice and stole a base.
With a hitting streak that now stands at fifteen games, Devon Travis was one of the most productive members of the offense. He went 7-for-17 with a double, walked twice, scored once, and drove in two.
Happ’s 19th win was one of his strongest outings, especially when you consider he didn’t allow the Angels to score until the 7th. He only allowed three hits and three walks. Plus, let’s be honest, that catch he made behind his back was pretty cool.
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 16, 2016
Where we are now:
3rd place in the AL East, 4 games back of Boston and in possession of the second wild card spot, one game behind Baltimore.
The bad news is, they’re still suffering in the standings after the past few series.
The good news is that they didn’t lose the series! And it’s great to have Josh Donaldson back!
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