Game 1: Friday, August 31
JAYS WIN!!!! 6-5
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Winning Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Save: Ken Giles
Facing Dan Straily, the Blue Jays were kept off the bases for the first 3 innings. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. changed that by singling in the 4th; however, they were still held scoreless through 5. In Miami’s expansive outfield, many hard-hit balls off Straily resulted in flyouts to the warning track. Aaron Sanchez pitched his way around two walks in the first three innings, but the Marlins put up a three-spot in the 4th. Brian Anderson led off with a double, advanced on a groundout, and scored on a Derek Dietrich single. After that, two more singles scored another run, and a groundout scored the other. Sanchez opted to intentionally walk Magneuris Sierra to get to the pitcher Straily, who he then struck out looking.
Miami added to their lead with a pair of runs in the 5th. Anderson doubled again, this time with one out, then scored on a J.T. Realmuto single. Dietrich singled again, and Starlin Castro picked up his second RBI of the game with another single. He and Anderson had reached base all three times up – both had also walked earlier in the game. Sanchez left the game with one out and a five-run deficit, turning things over to Danny Barnes. Curtis Granderson then pinch-hit for Barnes in the top of the 6th, and scored the first run for the Blue Jays when he singled, advanced on Billy McKinney’s double, and was driven in by Gurriel’s sac fly.
Murphy Smith loaded the bases in the bottom half (Sierra led off with a single, then Smith hit Straily and walked Anderson) before getting Realmuto to hit into a double play, escaping the jam. Tim Mayza allowed two runners to reach, hitting the second Marlins batter of the game, before stranding them in the 7th. Each team got a single in the 8th as Straily was pulled for a pinch-hitter. Kyle Barraclough replaced him on the mound for the 9th, and gave up a single and a walk, and then Danny Jansen reached on a ball that Castro couldn’t maintain control of. It was ruled an infield single, and Barraclough left with the bases loaded, although he did strike out Kevin Pillar in the process.
Drew Steckenrider was given the task of getting the last two outs of the game, and he struck out Aledmys Diaz, but then walked Devon Travis with a full count to force in a run. Steckentider then got two strikes on Justin Smoak, pinch-hitting in the pitcher’s spot, before Smoak walloped a grand slam into the right-field bullpen, putting the Blue Jays on top 6-5. Ken Giles gave up a single and a walk, but collected the save, his nineteenth of the year.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 1, 2018
Game 2: Saturday, September 1st
Jays lose, 3-6
Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Marco Estrada got off to a miserable start, loading the bases with a double, a single and a walk before he’d recorded the first out of the game. Brian Anderson hit a ball to the warning track, but Grichuk reeled it in and limited the damage to a sacrifice fly. Grichuk then raced over to the wall in foul territory on the next ball, for the second out. Estrada got out of the jam with only one run allowed. J.T. Realmuto homered in the 3rd, putting Miami up 2-0. Randal Grichuk halved the deficit with a 4th-inning sacrifice fly after Devon Travis doubled and tagged up on a flyout. Justin Smoak ended the bottom of the 4th with an unassisted double play on a lineout.
Estrada loaded the bases again in the 5th and was less lucky than the time before. He walked Anderson with the bases loaded, then Martin Prado cleared the bases with a double. Danny Barnes was called upon to get the last two outs of the inning – he needed just three pitches to do so. Taylor Guerrieri made his MLB debut in the 6th inning, allowed a single to J.T. Riddle, but stranded it. He then retired the side in order in the 7th, capping it off with a three-pitch strikeout of Prado.
Another Blue Jays rookie took the mound next, as Jose Fernandez pitched a perfect 8th. Wei-Yin Chen collected the win for Miami after 8 innings of one-run, three-hit ball. The final two Blue Jays runs were charged to Tayron Guerrero, who allowed a leadoff single to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Smoak then homered for the fourth straight game, a streak which was a personal best.
Game 3: Sunday, September 2nd (Night game)
JAYS WIN!!! 6-1
Winning Pitcher: Sean Reid-Foley
For the first time in the series, the Blue Jays scored first and didn’t look back. Two singles in the 1st gave way to a sac fly from Kendrys Morales. On the mound, Sean Reid-Foley got off to a great start by striking out the side in order. In the 2nd, the Blue Jays loaded the bases after Jeff Brigham walked two and hit Luke Maile, but Devon Travis flew out to end the inning. Reid-Foley struck out in his first career plate appearance that inning, then stranded a leadoff single. The Blue Jays scored two more runs with a pair of sac flies in the 3rd. Teoscar Hernandez made the third out at the plate, trying to score from first on Maile’s double.
Jeff Brigham had made his major-league debut on the mound for Miami, and was replaced after three innings, having allowed three runs on four hits and four walks. His replacement retired the side in order (Reid-Foley struck out again) and then gave up a three-run homer to Hernandez in the 5th. Reid-Foley got into a bit of a jam in the bottom half, loading the bases with two singles and a hit batter, with nobody out. He struck out Magneuris Sierra, and Derek Dietrich lined out to second, but JT Riddle then took a walk that forced in the only Marlins run of the game. Brian Anderson struck out swinging to end the frame.
Reid-Foley ended his start by retiring the last seven batters, including three strikeouts. He’d allowed just four hits and struck out 10. Thomas Pannone took over for the 8th and retired the side with two strikeouts, then allowed a pair of hits in the 9th but remained scoreless. The Blue Jays out-hit the Marlins 8-6, but were out-hit in the series, 21-27. With a trio of doubles, Luke Maile had three extra-base hits in one game for the first time in his career.
The non-waiver trade deadline was on Friday at midnight, and it was announced midgame that Josh Donaldson had been traded to Cleveland, after clearing waivers earlier in the week. The Blue Jays acquired a player to be named later in the trade, and Donaldson is likely still injured and will have to be placed on the DL by his new team (although he’d been playing in rehab games in Toronto’s minor-league system). Donaldson will be a free agent at the end of the season, and although he’d been eligible for the Blue Jays to extend him a qualifying offer, he won’t be eligible for one with his new club.
Later that night, it was announced that Curtis Granderson had been sent to the Milwaukee Brewers. The prospect they got in return is 21-year-old Demi Orimoloye, a Nigerian-born Canadian outfielder, who played this season at A-level.
With the start of September, rosters expanded and the Blue Jays recalled Sean Reid-Foley, Taylor Guerrieri and Jose Fernandez (all pitchers) on Saturday. They also claimed Mark Leiter Jr. off waivers and designated Murphy Smith for assignment. Guerrieri and Fernandez both appeared in the game on Saturday, making their major-league debuts.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Justin Smoak’s grand slam in Game 1 was the first time a pinch-hitter had hit a go-ahead grand slam in Blue Jays history.
My favourite player(s) this series: Reid-Foley/Smoak/Travis
Sean Reid-Foley earned the first win of his career in fine fashion, going 7.0 innings allowing just one run, one walk, four hits, and collecting 10 strikeouts along the way. That mark of 10 is just one off of the rookie record in a game for a Blue Jays pitcher. He also struck out the first three batters he faced, and three of the last seven. On the flip side, he was 0-for-3 at the plate, with three strikeouts.
Justin Smoak only started one game in this series, so he only had five plate appearances. He also only had two hits, but both of them were late-inning home runs. In the first game of the series, he gave the Jays the lead with the grand slam that he hit with two outs and down by three runs. In Game 2, he hit a two-run homer, but it was too late to make a difference. In Game 3 he was used as a defensive replacement.
Devon Travis had a decent series at the plate – he went 3-for-12 with a walk and a double, but he ade other contributions beyond those numbers. In Game 1, he worked a full-count walk with the bases loaded, bringing in a run and setting the stage for Smoak’s heroics. In Game 2, he smartly tagged up on a fly ball to the outfield, advancing to third base and putting himself in position to score on a sac fly. In Game 3, he dove to catch a line drive, setting off a double play in the 4th that ended the inning.
Where we are now:
4th in the AL East, 31 games back of Boston
Having played one Florida team in Florida, the Jays are now headed back to Toronto to take on the other. The Rays will be in town for a three-game series, during which they’ll no doubt deploy their unconventional ‘opener’ style of bullpen management. Marcus Stroman will pitch the first game of the series, and Ryan Borucki will take the second.
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