Game 1: Friday, September 2nd
Jays lose, 3-8
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
After a quick 2-run first inning, the Blue Jays didn’t put up much of a fight against Tampa starter Alex Cobb. Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion doubled back-to-back – Donaldson’s had to be reviewed because it hit one of the infamous Tropicana Field catwalks. Russell Martin singled to score Encarnacion. The Jays only got four hits off Cobb over his five innings, and that inning comprised three of them. Meanwhile, Marcus Stroman would last a total of six innings, allowing Tampa to get one run in the 2nd and tie it in the 3rd after a Devon Travis error. Stroman sent them down in order in the 4th, and worked around a walk in the 5th, but gave up a double and a home run to Logan Morrison in the 6th that put the Rays ahead 4-2. He would end his outing with three earned runs on five hits and two walks.
Francisco Liriano would start the 7th, face three batters and not retire any of them. Luke Maile led off with a home run, Logan Forsythe reached on a Josh Donaldson error, and Kevin Kiermaier tripled. Ryan Tepera then gave up a three-run homer to Brad Miller. The Jays seemed to rally in the top of the next inning, as Donaldson led off with a single, and Encarnacion and Martin both walked. With one out and the bases loaded, Troy Tulowitzki grounded out, scoring Donaldson. Melvin Upton then struck out, stranding a pair in scoring position.
Game 2: Saturday, September 3rd (Night game)
Jays lose, 5-7
Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada
It was a pitcher’s duel for five innings, as Marco Estrada faced off with Blake Snell. Snell struck out seven Blue Jays hitters, and only allowed two hits – both singles, to Devon Travis and Edwin Encarnacion, sandwiched around a walk in the 3rd and resulting in his lone earned run. Estrada faced the minimum for three innings, as Corey Dickerson walked in the 3rd but then was caught trying to steal. Estrada allowed a single in each of the 4th and 5th, but nothing more. Everything was looking good until he hit the 6th. After four consecutive singles, he walked Brad Miller with the bases loaded – the go-ahead run for Tampa. Matt Duffy then hit a bases-clearing double, prompting Estrada’s removal from the game with a 4-run deficit and none out. Brett Cecil gave up a single and struck out two, then Joe Biagini got an inning-ending groundout.
In the top of the 7th, facing Erasmo Ramirez, Melvin Upton Jr. walked with one out, stole second, and advanced to third on a Kevin Pillar single. Both Upton and Pillar would be stranded when Travis ground out. Biagini returned for the bottom of the inning, Logan Forsythe singled, and Kevin Kiermaier hit a home run that just barely cleared the right-field foul pole and was the first homer Biagini had allowed all year. The Rays were up 7-1. Matt Dermody made his major-league debut for the Blue Jays entering the bottom of the 8th, and pitched two-thirds around a double and a single before giving way to Ryan Tepera. Tepera loaded the bases with a walk, then struck out Kiermaier to end the inning.
The top of the 9th was the rally the Blue Jays had been waiting for, but it fell a little short as they only scored four. The first two walked, then advanced on a wild pitch. Dioner Navarro ground out but plated one. Pillar walked, then advanced to second, and Travis singled to score both runners. Travis advanced to second on defensive indifference, and Jose Bautista singled, scoring Travis. Josh Donaldson also singled, bringing Encarnacion, the would-be go-ahead run, to the plate with two outs. Encarnacion flew out, ending both the rally and the game.
Finally, Toronto’s luck began to turn. Once again scoring in the 1st inning on an Edwin Encarnacion double and a Dioner Navarro single, they saw that lead evaporate as three Tampa hits and a sac fly scored two in the bottom of the frame. Happ only threw two and two thirds innings, as he’d stranded two walks in the 2nd when Devon Travis snagged a line drive, and gave up another run on three straight two-out singles in the 3rd. Danny Barnes took over, throwing two and a third innings and allowing one hit.
Still down 1-3 by the 7th, the Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a Kevin Pillar walk. Devon Travis singled and drove in two, tying the game. In the 8th, Navarro walked and Russell Martin hit his 17th home run of the season (and the first Blue Jays homer of the series). Luckily, Martin hadn’t been ejected in the 4th when he disagreed with a strike call from home plate umpire Pat Hoberg. John Gibbons was ejected instead, arguing on behalf of his catcher.
The Jays had ten hits, the Rays eight. Scott Feldman threw a perfect inning, Joaquin Benoit struck out three in his inning of work -including the 1000th of his career – while Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna each struck out a pair. The five relievers combined for six and a third scoreless innings, allowed only two hits in that span, and didn’t walk anyone.
What is it about Tampa that just seems to have a curse on the Jays? Logan Forsythe is somehow always on base, they can’t get Kevin Kiermaier out – hard to remember that this is a last-place team! Plus there always seems to be some kind of injury or close call – Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera collided in the 3rd game on a pop-up that miraculously stayed in Carrera’s glove.
Weirdly specific record alert:
- Joe Biagini was the last pitcher with over 50 innings thrown in the majors this year to allow a home run
- That streak was also the longest ever by a Blue Jays rookie, comprising 56 innings over 49 appearances
- Roberto Osuna became the youngest ever pitcher in MLB history with 30 saves in one season.
My favourite player(s) this series: Travis
Devon Travis had four hits over the course of the series, driving in four runs and scoring another two. He also showed off defensively, both with his grab of a line drove mentioned above, and this great catch of a pop-up in foul territory.
Where we are now:
1st in the American League East, 1 game ahead of Boston.
The bad news is, they lost the series and their lead has diminished.
The good news is, they NEVER HAVE TO PLAY AT THE TROP AGAIN (this year)!!!
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