Series Sum-Up: at Seattle, August 2-5

 

Game 1: Thursday, August 2nd
JAYS WIN!!! 7-3
Starting Pitcher: Tyler Clippard
Winning Pitcher: Mike Hauschild

 

The Blue Jays pulled off an unlikely win on a bullpen day. Despite Tyler Clippard allowing a two-run home run to Nelson Cruz in the 1st inning, the Jays tied it up in the 2nd when two hits and a walk loaded the bases, and Devon Travis cashed in a pair with a single. Mike Hauschild, called up that day, took over from Clippard and pitched six strong innings. That kept the game tied, and Hauschild outlasted Felix Hernandez, who only went 5.

 

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Hernandez stranded a pair in the 4th, although Travis flew out to deep to left field. The Mariners then brought in Adam Warren, who allowed an infield single and a walk, but stranded both. Hauschild stranded a pair in the 2nd, got a double play in the 3rd, struck out two in the 4th to strand a leadoff HBP and a single, and dispatched the first two batters of the 6th on three pitches, before getting a strikeout to strand a two-out single. Kendrys Morales hit a two-run blast in the 7th off Juan Nicasio, giving the Jays their first lead with his thirteenth on the season.

 

 

Cruz homered again in the 8th, on the first pitch from Joe Biagini, making it a one-run game. But the visitors took advantage of some defensive miscues against James Pazos, who was brought in for the 9th. Curtis Granderson hit a double in the first pitch of the inning, and Randal Grichuk reached when Kyle Seager couldn’t field a ball cleanly. On the next pitch, Justin Smoak reached on a throw from Seager that went into right field as Dee Gordon was injured on the play, and Granderson scored. Morales hit into a double play, but Aledmys Diaz pinch-hit for a home run that put the Jays comfortably ahead. Teoscar Hernandez had the first three-double game of his career, going 4-for-5 with a run scored.

 

 

Game 2: Friday, August 3rd
JAYS WIN!!! 7-2
Winning Pitcher: Ryan Borucki

 

Ryan Borucki had to throw 8 innings of one-run ball to ensure his first career win. The offense gave him some support in the 1st, when the first two batters of the game reached. Randal Grichuk doubled, and Devon Travis drove him in with a single. The first two batters in the 3rd reached, as a Kevin Pillar grounder bounced over Kyle Seager’s glove, and Grichuk reached on the next pitch when Seager’s throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. Marco Gonzales wriggled out of that jam, then allowed another run in the 4th, thanks to a solo home run from Russell Martin.

 

 

The Mariners got an unearned run in the bottom of that inning, Mitch Haniger reaching on an error when Aledmys Diaz airmailed the first baseman. Haniger scored on a Seager single, cutting the lead to 2-1 for Toronto. Travis widened that gap in the next inning with a two-run shot, again plating Grichuk, who’d reached as Seager fielded a grounder and then lost the ball on the transfer. Borucki got into trouble in the 6th, with consecutive one-out singles bringing Nelson Cruz to the plate, representing the tying run. Borucki got the DH to pop out in the infield, before getting a lineout to end the inning, without a run scoring.  

 

Borucki completed his start without allowing another baserunner, despite a 10-pitch battle against Mike Zunino in the 7th, which ended with a foul flyout to the catcher. Gonzales pitched 7 innings. The Jays piled on a few more runs in the 9th, with a Teoscar Hernandez leadoff triple, an RBI single from Martin, and a Diaz single off Chasen Bradford. Pillar scored Martin with a sac fly, Diaz stole second, and then scored on a single Grichuk shot back over the mound. Ken Giles made his first appearance in a Blue Jays uniform and, despite allowing a run on two hits, struck out the side.

 

 

 

Game 3: Saturday, August 4th (Night Game)
JAYS WIN!!! 5-1
Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada

 

Compared to the previous games in the series, this was a relatively low-scoring affair. James Paxton gave up two runs in the 3rd on a trio of hits: Kevin Pillar doubled, Randal Grichuk singled, and Devon Travis drove them both in with a single up the middle before a double play ended the inning. Aledmys Diaz led off the 5th with a homer. They got two more singles before Travis hit into another inning-ending double play.

 

Meanwhile, Marco Estrada had allowed only one baserunner, a 2nd-inning leadoff walk, over that span. He carried a no-hitter into the 7th, when Mitch Haniger doubled with one out. Estrada retired the next two, stranding Haniger on second base. Pillar led off the 8th with a single that rolled slowly up the third-base line, and then advanced two bases on a wild pitch. Following a walk to Travis, Justin Smoak hit a single that cashed in the run. Travis was then thrown out stealing third base.

 

Estrada had been cruising to that point, before walking Ryon Healy on four pitches in the 8th. That ended his night. Ryan Tepera gave up a single and a sacrifice fly to Chris Hermann that scored Healy. Toronto got that run back in the 9th, on back-to-back doubles from Aledmys Diaz and Brandon Drury. Ken Giles made another appearance, hit the first batter and allowed another single before getting a double play to end the game. The Blue Jays had hit into four DPs, and both teams had stranded four runners. Toronto collected 12 hits and allowed three.

 

 

Game 4: Sunday, August 5th
Jays lose, 3-6
Starting Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini

 

The Mariners scored early, with two runs in the 3rd thanks to a couple of missed plays by Aledmys Diaz at shortstop. With one out, Sam Gaviglio walked Andrew Romine on four pitches.  Denard Span then singled, and Jean Segura hit a ball that Diaz dropped. Following a lineout to Diaz for the second out, Nelson Cruz hit a ball that ricocheted off Diaz into left field and brought in two runs. A single and double put runners in scoring position to start the 4th, but the Gaviglio got three efficient outs to escape, throwing just 11 pitches in the frame.

 

It wasn’t until the 5th that the Blue Jays got on the board, thanks to a leadoff double from Diaz and an RBI single from Luke Maile that rolled right between the infielders. Both starters took no-decisions, with Gaviglio leaving in the 6th after a Kyle Seager home run and two two-out walks. The Jays went on to tie it in the 7th, as Diaz hit his fourteenth home run of the year, cashing in a leadoff single from Yangervis Solarte. Mike Leake was pulled with two outs in that inning.

 

 

Joe Biagini, who’d stranded the runners for Gaviglio, handed the lead right back in the bottom of the 7th after a leadoff single from Segura, and back-to-back homers by Cruz and Seager. Cruz drove in four of the six runs for Seattle, with Seager’s home runs being responsible for the other two. The Blue Jays had nine hits, three of which belonged to Diaz.

 

Overall Notes:

Ken Giles, acquired in a trade with the Astros last week, was activated to the roster on Thursday. Darnell Sweeney was designated for assignment on the same day (and outrighted on Sunday). They also optioned Dwight Smith Jr. and signed Mike Hauschild, activating him just before game time.

 

Kevin Pillar returned from the disabled list on Saturday, three weeks after suffering a severe shoulder injury on a diving play in Boston. Brandon Cumpton was optioned to Buffalo in a corresponding move.

 

Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • Russell Martin’s home run on Saturday was his 64th with the club. That moves him into second place on the list of most home runs by a Blue Jays catcher.
  • Mike Hauschild is the first Blue Jay reliever to throw 6+ innings in his debut appearance.
  • Tyler Clippard set the MLB record for the most appearances between starts, with 670 games. He last started a game on June 14th, 2008, for the Washington Nationals. 

 

My favourite player(s) this series: Travis/Borucki/Diaz/Estrada/Hauschild

Devon Travis was slotted in second in the lineup for the first time all season, and he made the most of the opportunity. He hit ninth on Thursday, and drove in two runs with a single. Then he had two hits, a home run and three RBI on Friday, followed by two hits, a walk and two more runs driven in on Saturday. In the finale, he didn’t drive in any, but still got a hit. In total, he was 6-for-16 (.375) with a walk, a double, a home run, and seven RBI.

 

Ryan Borucki allowed just four hits over eight innings, his fewest hits so far in the longest start of his major-league career. He threw 75 of his 111 pitches for strikes, although he only struck out two batters, and didn’t walk anybody. His lone run was unearned (the result of an error) and because of that his ERA has dropped to 2.30. He also retired the last eight batters he faced. The young lefty is now the only pitcher in MLB this season who’s thrown 40+ innings and still hasn’t allowed a home run.

 

Aledmys Diaz hit three home runs in this series, including a pinch-hit appearance in the 9th on Thursday. He was 7-for-13, with three homers and two doubles, scored six times, and also plated five runs – including two that tied the game on Sunday.

 

Marco Estrada has had his struggles this season, but the performance on Saturday night was classic Estrada. 6 1/3 no-hit innings, two walks, a grand total of one run on one hit allowed (an inherited runner that scored after Estrada left the game) and four strikeouts. He got seven outs in the air, and threw 70% of his pitches for strikes. At one point he retired 16 consecutive batters.

 

 

It’s not often a player I’ve never heard of becomes a series favourite on the first day he appears, but Mike Hauschild became an unlikely hero after his six-inning, 89-pitch scoreless appearance in Game 1. He allowed four hits (all singles), walked one, and struck out five. Of the last 13 batters he faced, only one reached base. Most starters would be proud of an outing like that.

 

Where we are now:
51-60, .459
4th in the AL East, 27 games back of Boston

 

Monday, a holiday in Canada, is also an off-day for the Blue Jays. They’ll be flying home to take on the Red Sox in a three-game series beginning Tuesday night. The division-leading Sox acquired Ian Kinsler at the deadline, and are coming off a weekend sweep of the Yankees, with a 79-34 record. Marcus Stroman will take the hill in Game 1 against Drew Pomeranz, the only Boston starter with an ERA (6.56 in 10 starts) higher than Stroman’s (5.63). Mike Hauschild, the reliever who was the hero of Game 1 in Seattle, will start Game 2 on Wednesday.

 

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