Game 1: Monday, September 5th (day game)
Jays lose, 3-5
Losing Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
For the third time in four games, the Blue Jays took a lead in the first inning, and then lost it in short order. Devon Travis led off the game with a double, then scored on a Jose Bautista single. Edwin Encarnacion also singled, but Bautista was caught out at home when Michael Saunders hit a one-out fielder’s choice. Encarnacion and Saunders would be stranded on base, as would four more Jays from the 2nd to the 6th.
Jacoby Ellsbury drove in three of the Yankees runs, including a two-run homer in the 1st, and Tyler Austin drove in the other two with a double in the 4th. All five runs were charged to R.A. Dickey, who lasted just four innings and gave up seven hits. The Blue Jays loaded the bases on a trio of walks in the 7th, and Encarnacion drove in a pair. But they would go down quietly in the last two innings, giving the Yankees the win in the series opener.
This game was a tease. The Jays scored in the 1st on an Edwin Encarnacion solo shot, then after the Yankees tied it in the 4th they took the lead right back on three hits in the 5th. They came close to widening their lead in the 6th, loading the bases with only one out, but then Justin Smoak ground into a double play. Sanchez threw seven innings, and gave up three runs, all on homers. Kevin Pillar drove in two with a double off Ben Heller in the 8th, to make it 4-3 Toronto.
Jason Grilli started the bottom of the 8th and had a very atypical Grilli outing. He walked the leadoff hitter, then struck out one. Allowed an RBI double, then a sac fly. After another walk and a two-run Chase Headley home run, he was replaced with Bo Schultz, who struck out Aaron Judge to mercifully end the frame. In all, they blew three different one-run leads. The Yankees used eight different pitchers.
A 9th-inning rally ended up being too little, too late, but it was pretty exciting considering they’d been down 4-7 moments earlier. Jose Bautista led off with a walk, and Josh Donaldson followed suit. Encarnacion scored Bautista with an infield single, then Russell Martin struck out and Dioner Navarro (pinch-hitting) walked. Melvin Upton Jr. drove in Donaldson and the bases were loaded. Kevin Pillar struck out looking, and then Smoak hit a ball all the way to the wall in left… and into the glove of a leaping Brett Gardner. Ballgame.
Game 3: Wednesday, September 7th
Jays lose, 0-2
Losing pitcher: Marcus Stroman
This reminded me an awful lot of Dickey’s start the last time they were in New York. Starter goes five innings, gives up a small number of runs, bullpen is lights-out (two strong innings from Joe Biagini and one from Roberto Osuna, in this case), but the offense does zip. The Jays would strand six runners over the course of the game, five of them in scoring position. Three times, they got the leadoff hitter on base, including a Devon Travis single in the 1st inning which was erased on a double play. In the 3rd, Melvin Upton and Kevin Pillar led off the inning with a pair of walks, but a double play erased Pillar and they stranded the Upton at third.
Travis doubled to start the 6th, but was called out on a Josh Donaldson fielder’s choice when he ran out of the basepath. Travis managed to distract the fielders long enough that Donaldson reached second safely, but he didn’t get any farther. Travis and Troy Tulowitzki were nearly the entire Jays offense, as Tulowitzki had a pair of doubles. Jose Bautista also had a single. Russell Martin visibly hurt himself while batting in the 4th, and it became clear he was frustrated and in pain with each subsequent at-bat, but managed to do his catching duties (including throwing out a would-be base stealer). Eventually Dioner Navarro was used to pinch-hit for him in the 9th.
Stroman gave up seven hits and a walk, but stranded seven baserunners. He couldn’t escape in the 4th inning when he allowed a two-out solo homer to Starlin Castro, then a double, walk and single scored another run. Six of the hits he allowed were with two outs. Devon Travis also made an error in the 1st.
Being swept by a team they dominated last season (they had a 12-7 record against them) was definitely disheartening. But it’s also important to note that this is a very different-looking team from the pre-trade deadline Yankees. Alex Rodriguez has retired, Carlos Beltran was traded away, and the younger players (particularly Gary Sanchez) are supposed to be a real threat.
Dan Shulman called this whole series, which was nice, but somehow the team seems to have bad luck whenever he’s commentating. One of the best moments in the booth wasn’t courtesy of Shulman, but rather Buck Martinez, who caught a foul ball on Tuesday
My favourite player(s) this series: Stroman/Tuesday Pillar
He may have taken the loss, but Marcus Stroman’s performance was actually pretty good. His only inning of significant trouble was the 3rd; his 4th and 5th were perfect, and he might have gone deeper into the game if he hadn’t already been at 97 pitches. He only walked one and struck out eight – which is a third of the batters he faced.
The offense was bad overall, so I couldn’t really base this on series-wide performance. So the Tuesday version of Kevin Pillar takes this honour, because his strikeout in the 9th was the first time he’d gotten out all game. He singled in each of his first two at-bats, walked in the 6th to load the bases before getting out on the double play, and then doubled to drive in a pair in the 8th. He also walked on Wednesday, which, coupled with a pair of walks in the Tampa series, raised some eyebrows and apparently indicates he’s been more patient at the plate recently.
Where we are now:
2nd place in the AL East, one game back of Boston and in possession of the first AL wildcard
The bad news is, they got swept by the Yankees, who are in 4th place in the division and suddenly gaining. This knocks the Jays back out of first place. Most of their series before the end of the season are within the division, meaning it’s going to be a close race. Also, our catcher is hurt. Hold onto your hats, folks.
The good news is… uuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhh….. Give me a minute, I’ll think of something. The next two series are at home, which is nice. Right? All those ninth-inning rallies are just practice for a few walkoffs, right??
Here’s some reassurance from Russell Martin, as well as an explanation for whatever happened to his knee.
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