Game 1: Friday, May 4th
Jays lose, 2-6
Losing Pitcher: J.A. Happ
J.A. Happ’s streak of consecutive games with eight or more strikeouts has ended. Here, he struck out just three, walked four and allowed four hits, on his way to allowing three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. The Blue Jays, facing the Rays’ ‘bullpen day’ got a run on the first batter of the game. Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff double, then scored on a sac fly. Granderson was removed from the game with hamstring tightness after the 2nd; he was replaced by Dalton Pompey.
Johnny Field, the Rays’ number nine hitter, homered to tie the game in the 3rd. Field went on to have three hits and score twice. Ryan Yarborough threw five scoreless innings for the Rays, and took home the win, although he had not started the game. The Blue Jays only got one hit off of Yarborough, and it was the very first batter he faced, a single from Pompey to lead off the 3rd.
Tampa took the lead in the 4th, when the first three batters reached. Wilson Ramos singled to drive in a leadoff walk, then Ramos was out at second on a forceout from Denard Span, but that play also drove in a run. Span was then thrown out stealing to end the inning. Happ loaded the bases with two outs in the 6th on a single and a pair of walks. He was lifted from the game and Jake Petricka stranded all three runners. Petricka then allowed a run on three hits in the 7th. Aledmys Diaz homered in the top of the 8th to make it 4-2. Tim Mayza allowed the other two Rays runs in the bottom half, on a home run by Brad Miller.
Game 2: Saturday, May 5th (Evening game)
Jays lose, 3-5
Losing Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Jacob Faria held the Blue Jays hitless the first time through the order – their lone baserunner was Josh Donaldson, who walked in the 1st, but was doubled off shortly after. Aaron Sanchez also didn’t allow a hit on his first trip through the Rays’ order, but his was a little more sloppy, with four walks thanks to a high bottom of the strike zone. Sanchez did get a double play in the 1st, but Matt Duffy scored when Wilson Ramos reached on a ball that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. booted.
C.J. Cron had the first hit of the ballgame leading off the 3rd, and he scored thanks to back-to-back first-pitch singled. That put the Rays up 2-0. The Blue Jays had to wait until the 4th inning for their first hit, but it was worth the wait as Teoscar Hernandez hit a leadoff homer. It was the 50th home run for the Blue Jays this season, leading the major leagues. Sanchez left the game with two out in the 4th. At the time, there was a man on first and a 4-1 deficit thanks to a Mallex Smith infield single (which looked like an out but was upheld on replay), an RBI single, another Gurriel error, and a sac fly. Aaron Loup finished the inning, and pitched around two walks in the 5th.
The Jays had a two-run rally in the 8th with three hits off Sergio Romo. Gurriel led off with his second home run of the season, then Aledmys Diaz doubled, and Hernandez scored him with a single. Romo was pulled with just one out, but Hernandez was stranded at second base. An unearned run scored in the bottom of the 8th with Tyler Clippard pitching. Smith led off with a ground-rule double for his fourth time on base, then advanced on a sac bunt attempt that Russell Martin dropped, and scored on a sacrifice fly. Toronto took the loss despite out-hitting Tampa 7-6.
Chris Archer was good, holding the Jays to one run on five hits in seven innings of work. But Marco Estrada was slightly better, holding the Rays scoreless on four hits over six innings. Kevin Pillar’s double in the 2nd was the only baserunner for Toronto their first time through the order. Then Yangervis Solarte and Justin Smoak hit back-to-back singles in the 3rd, but nothing came of it. Estrada allowed a pair of baserunners in the 3rd and 4th, but benefited from some great defense. First, a pair of runners were caught stealing in the bottom of the 3rd, with Carlos Gomez thrown out at second and Mallex Smith caught trying to take home. Then he got a double play to end the 4th, escaping a two-on, one-out situation.
The Jays got on the board in the 5th when Anthony Alford led off with a single and stole second base. He advanced on a fly ball, and scored when Aledmys Diaz hit an infield single. That run came at a price because, in an effort to avoid Archer making a play at the bag, Diaz stepped on the side of the base and appeared to twist his ankle. He had to be helped off the field by trainers, and was replaced with Lourdes Gurriel Jr.as a pinch-runner.
In Estrada’s final inning, he got some more defensive help to erase a leadoff walk. Ryan Duffy lined into a double play that Solarte easily turned. Next pitcher in for the Jays was Tyler Clippard, who got two strikeouts on his way to a scoreless inning, Ryan Tepera followed, and allowed a leadoff homer to Gomez that tied the game. The Jays caught a break when Tepera stranded a hit and a walk. They caught another when the Rays’ closer, Alex Colome, was brought in for his third consecutive game. With the game tied, Pillar led off the 9th with his second double of the day. He advanced on a groundout, then took advantage of a wild pitch to put the Jays ahead. Roberto Osuna collected the save, after the Jays had seven hits and only one walk.
The game needed a hero.
We needed a win.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 6, 2018
As was expected, the team made a flurry of roster moves following their double-header in Cleveland. On Friday, before the start of this series, Joe Biagini, Carlos Ramirez and Dwight Smith Jr. were all optioned to Buffalo, and Luis Santos was designated for assignment. Jake Petricka, Dalton Pompey, and Richard Urena were brought up. On Saturday, Petricka was optioned and Anthony Alford was recalled. On Sunday, Urena was sent back down (without appearing in a game) as Justin Smoak was activated from the paternity list following the birth of his daughter.
Curtis Granderson didn’t play since he was pulled from Game 1, but he hasn’t been formally placed on the disabled list.
John Gibbons was ejected twice in this series, in Game 2 and Game 3. Add that to his ejection in Minnesota last Wednesday, and that makes three ejections in one road trip for the Blue Jays’ skipper. On Saturday, he was kicked out in the middle of the 8th for complaining to the home plate umpire about the strike zone (something that catcher Russell Martin and pitching coach Pete Walker had been clearly frustrated with all game). On Sunday, he left the dugout to object to a balk called on Ryan Tepera in the bottom of the 8th inning. Managers aren’t allowed to protest balk calls, so the ejection was immediate. Postgame, he had this to say:
Why #BlueJays manager John Gibbons got ejected arguing a balk call.
“Nobody calls balks anymore … It’s nut-cutting time in the game, close game. Really? You can go through a list of every pitcher in baseball and you could nail them if you wanted to, but nobody ever does.”
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) May 6, 2018
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Marco Estrada recorded his 500th strikeout while playing for the Blue Jays on Sunday. He’s just the 20th pitcher in team history to reach that milestone.
My favourite player(s) this week: Estrada
Marco Estrada threw his first scoreless start of the season on Sunday. Though he walked four, and only struck out three, he put his team in a good position to win by not allowing any extra-base hits in six innings. He also threw out Mallex Smith trying to steal home plate, keeping the Rays off the board.
Where we are now:
3rd in the AL East, 6.5 games back of Boston
Monday is an off day, so the Jays will have some rest before they play a series at home against Seattle. The Mariners have a 19-14 record, but their ace Felix Hernandez pitched on Sunday so the Jays will avoid him. Canadian James Paxton is slated to start Tuesday against Marcus Stroman.
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