Series Sum-Up: At Seattle, Sept 19-21

Marco Estrada 4


Game 1: Monday, September 19th
JAYS WIN!! 3-2
Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Save: Roberto Osuna


Kevin Pillar had three hits, stole two bases, scored one run and drove in another. Edwin Encarnacion hit his forty-first home run of the year. But both of them took a back seat to the incredible pitching performance of Marco Estrada.

Just like his last start, Estrada didn’t allow a baserunner for the first three innings. Unlike his last start, he continued to no-hit the other team for three more innings. Two walks in the 4th were the only thing that marred his perfection through six. That included a Norichika Aoki attempt at a two-strike bunt that rolled foul, and a very nice catch from Pillar that ended the 4th. Estrada allowed his first hit of the game in the form of a leadoff single from Robinson Cano in the 7th, but then shut down the next three batters in order.


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Meanwhile, Estrada’s teammates gave him a comfortable three-run lead with that two-run Encarnacion homer in the 3rd (scoring Pillar) and a Troy Tulowitzki double in the 4th. Tulowitzki advanced to third on an Ezequiel Carrera sac bunt and then scored on Pillar’s single. All three runs came with two outs in their respective innings. They would strand two walks in the 6th, a walk and a hit in the 7th, and get two singles in the 9th but Pillar was thrown out stealing. Josh Donaldson was ejected in the top of the 7th for arguing a strike call on a checked swing.


After a leadoff walk in the 8th, Estrada left the game in the hands of Jason Grilli, who walked a pair and struck out one. Roberto Osuna was called upon to get the last out of the inning and stranded the bases loaded. In the bottom of the 9th, with two out, Osuna gave up a single and a two-run homer to Leonys Martin. But he got a strikeout in time to preserve the lead, and Estrada’s win. The Jays had eight hits to the Mariners’ three, and each team had five walks.


Game 2: Tuesday, September 20th
JAYS WIN!! 10-2
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ


For one inning, the Blue Jays enjoyed an offensive outpouring like they haven’t seen in quite a while. They were down 0-2 at the end of three innings, due to a but, a single that bounced off Devon Travis, and another ball that ricocheted off Travis and somehow became a 2-run triple for Robinson Cano. Then in the top of the 4th, Edwin Encarnacion led off and struck out. Jose Bautista worked a nine-pitch at-bat into a single, and Russell Martin homered. Tie game. Troy Tulowitzki singled, Michael Saunders homered to bring him in. Suddenly the Blue Jays had a two-run lead.



Kevin Pillar doubled, and Ezequiel Carrera scored him with a single. Devon Travis singled, Carrera scored. Josh Donaldson walked, and they were back to Encarnacion again, with only one out. Encarnacion doubled, and drove in Travis and Donaldson. Then Bautista and Martin flew out to end the inning. Nine consecutive batters had reached base. Eight of them had scored.


Donaldson hit a solo shot in the 6th, his first of the month, and then in the 8th, Encarnacion stepped to the plate, the only Blue Jay yet to score a run in the game. He’d almost hit a home run in his first at-bat, but it was caught on the warning track.

This time he didn’t miss, sending a 1-0 pitch from David Rollins into the left-field stands. It tied his career-high of 42 home runs in a season, and also regained him the MLB lead in RBI. From the 7th onward, the Blue Jays bullpen no-hit the Mariners, allowing just a walk and a hit batter between Ryan Tepera, Brett Cecil and Scott Feldman. Former Blue Jay Pat Venditte pitched the 9th for the Mariners. J.A. Happ’s start went five innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and a walk, and he struck out eight in his 19th win of the year. The Jays had fourteen hits – at least one from every member of the starting lineup.


Game 3: Wednesday, September 21st (day game)
Jays lose, 1-2 (12 innings)
Starting pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Losing Pitcher: R.A. Dickey


Aaron Sanchez had another ‘Houdini’ moment in the 3rd inning when the Mariners led off with a Jesus Sucre double, scored him on a single that Kevin Pillar dropped, and allowed Norichika Aoki to advance to second. Then they loaded the bases with two walks. Sanchez got a soft grounder back to the mound to escape the inning with minimal damage done. That was the only run he allowed, as he also sat down the last seven consecutive batters he faced. His final line was six innings, one earned run, four hits, three walks and five strikeouts.


Through eight innings, the Blue Jays managed to only get one runner (Josh Donaldson, following his double in the 4th) to third base. Felix Hernandez threw seven innings and kept them scoreless, allowing two hits and three walks. In the 8th they led off with a walk, but pinch-runner Dalton Pompey was caught stealing.  Then, with one out in the top of the 9th, Jose Bautista lifted a rocket to left field, tying the game.



Jason Grilli got two strikeouts to strand Brett Cecil’s hit batter in the 8th. Leonys Martin singled off Joe Biagini in the 9th and then stole second and third, but Biagini and Roberto Osuna each struck out a batter to leave him there, and send the game to extra innings. Osuna struck out the side in the 10th, and Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera stranded the bases full of walks in the 11th. Despite their best efforts, Toronto stranded a leadoff double on third in the 10th, got a single and walk to start the 11th but struck out one and ground into a double play, then stranded a Ryan Goins single in the 12th.


R.A. Dickey came on in the bottom of the 12th, and Guillermo Heredia hit a ground ball to third which Josh Donaldson threw away, allowing Heredia to get to second. Ben Gamel hit a sacrifice bunt which Ryan Goins (playing first base) scooped up and threw to third, but Donaldson dropped it and Heredia was safe. Then Robinson Cano hit a sacrifice fly to left which allowed Heredia to score and the game was over. They walked it off without getting a hit, nor Dickey an earned run. Devon Travis’ hit streak came to an end at seventeen games, as each team had only six hits for the day.


Overall Notes:

It was nice to see Josh Donaldson hit a home run again for the first time in September, especially in such a big park as Safeco.


Ryan Goins’ teammates gave him a wig to wear during the series, but apparently decided it was bad luck – he took it off right before the 8-run rally on Tuesday. Goins also had some supportive things to say about his teammate Devon Travis, who’d been getting a bit of a reputation lately among fans for making misplays in the field.



Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • Monday’s game was the first time this season the Blue Jays had four stolen bases in one game (two by Pillar, and one each from Jose Bautista and Devon Travis)
  • Josh Donaldson is the first Blue Jays player ever with 35+ home runs in each of his first two years in Toronto.
  • Russell Martin and Michael Saunders are the first pair of Canadian teammates in MLB history with 20+ home runs in the same year.
  • They also became just the second pair of Canadian teammates in MLB history to hit home runs in the same inning, after… themselves, earlier this year.
  • Martin is also the first Blue Jays catcher to ever have back-to-back seasons of 20+ home runs.


My favourite player(s) this series: Estrada/Pillar/Bautista/The West Coast Canadians

Estrada’s six-inning no-hit perfomrance is almost something we’ve come to expect from him, but he was in control consistently throughout the game. Five of his seven innings were perfect, he only allowed the one hit, walked three and struck out eight batters – five of them swinging. He did all of that while maintaining his reputation as a flyball pitcher – he only had two groundouts – and being efficient – he retired 21 hitters on 97 pitches.


Kevin Pillar didn’t have a strong offensive Game 3 (nobody did) but over the first two he was unbelievable. He went 6-for-8 with a walk, a double, two stolen bases, an RBI and a pair of runs scored. Plus, that nice sliding catch to help extend Estrada’s no-hitter (and probably prevent a run from scoring).



Jose Bautista’s game-tying home run was enough to put him on this list, but his reaction after the home run was legendary as well.



For something a little bit different, I wanted to offer a round of applause to all the fans that went down from British Columbia and the prairie provinces for this series. They completely took over Safeco Field (so much so that it was difficult to spot Mariners fans in the crowd), they were loud, they were passionate and they were excited. Which is exactly what we needed to see in a series that looked like the start of a turnaround for the offense. When he left the mound in the 7th, Felix Hernandez pointed and screamed ‘This is my house!’ but the cheers when Grilli ended the 8th were even louder. It was amazing.


Where we are now:
Second place in the AL East, 5 games back of Boston and with a one-game lead on Baltimore in the wild card standings


The bad news is, they’re still a way back in the division and Boston keeps winning so it will be near impossible to catch up.


The good news is, they won the series, won the road trip, and are heading home with solid pitching and offense in their recent past.


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