Up to this point, the Blue Jays and the Orioles had split their season series with five games apiece. That placed a lot of significance on this series, both in the pennant race and the natural rivalry between the two clubs. This first game followed the familiar line of a hard-fought contest. The Orioles scored a pair in the 1st with a two-run Mark Trumbo double, but the Jays took the lead in the bottom with a trio of solo home runs – first Jose Bautista, then Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki – off Kevin Gausman. A Russell Martin error in the 3rd allowed Baltimore to tie the game, but in the bottom half a wild pitch and an error from Martin’s counterpart Matt Weiters contributed to a three-run inning from the Jays. Martin and Kevin Pillar each had RBI singles in the frame.
They chased Gausman after just three innings, having gotten six hits and six runs off him. Estrada allowed one more run in the 4th, and would leave the game after 6.0 innings, allowing three earned runs and one unearned, two walks, and five hits. Jaoquin Benoit made his second appearance as a Blue Jay and threw a scoreless 7th, allowing one walk. Jason Grilli gave up a solo home run to Manny Machado to lead off the 8th, but shut down the next three, including two strikeouts. With the score 6-5 in favour of the Jays, Roberto Osuna pitched around a 2-out double in the 9th to close the game and earn the save.
Game 2: Saturday, July 30th
JAYS WIN!! 9-1
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Well that was fun! After stranding the bases loaded in the 1st, and having a leadoff single erased by a double play in the 3rd, the Jays were having a frustrating game, offensively. Happ had given up a run in the 2nd by way of a solo home run to Pedro Alvarez – also the only hit he allowed in his first five innings of work. Devon Travis hit a one-out solo homer in the 5th, tying the game. Then back-to-back walks and an Edwin Encarnacion double made it 2-1 Jays. Michael Saunders was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Troy Tulowitzki walked, bringing in another run. Then Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar both had two-run doubles – when it was all over, the Jays were up seven to one.
They added to their impressive lead in the 7th with a Michael Saunders walk and another pair of doubles from Martin and Pillar. The only Blue Jays who wouldn’t score in the game were Pillar and Melvin Upton Jr. – but Pillar at least had his four RBI to make up for it.
Happ departed the game after facing one hitter in the 8th. He allowed three hits, three walks, and struck out eleven. Joe Biagini came in and loaded the bases on two more singles, but made a nice play on a forceout at the plate and got a pop-up. Brett Cecil then came in and got a strikeout to leave the bases loaded.
Being in first place in the division was nice, albeit short-lived. When your starter can give you 6 shutout innings to start the game and you still lose, that’s an issue. Sanchez allowed only two earned runs on four hits in his seven innings of work, walking two. The Blue Jays had five hits and three walks against Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, but grounded into two double plays. Their runs came one in the 2nd, on a one-out, two-on forceout from Devon Travis, and one on a Troy Tulowitzki solo home run in the 4th.
Speaking of Tulowitzki, he was hit in the hand with a pitch in the 6th inning and would eventually leave the game. The Jays got a walk in each of the 10th and 11th innings but couldn’t cash them in. After a shutout inning each from Benoit, Osuna, Grilli and Cecil, Morales took the mound in the 12th and faced four batters, getting only one out. He walked leadoff man Pedro Alvarez, committed a balk which advanced him to second, then gave up a single to Jonathan Schoop that scored Alvarez. He then allowed another walk, and was replaced by Jesse Chavez with runners on first and second. Chavez gave up a three-run homer to the first batter he faced (putting the Orioles ahead by four) before striking out the next two.
The Toronto starting pitching continues to be great. It was mentioned on one of the broadcasts that their pitchers have the fewest pitches per inning in the AL.
My favourite player(s) this series: Pillar/Tulowitzki
Superman chose to forego any defensive fireworks in this series, but was excellent at the plate with five RBI, four in the same game. He collected four hits, including a pair of doubles, and also had a walk (which we all know is usually enough to write home about on its own!)
Tulo had two home runs, three runs scored, four RBI and also set off a nice double play in Game 2. It’s unfortunate he was forced out of the game by injury on Sunday, because they could have used his bat in extra innings.
Where we are now:
2nd place in the AL East, 0.5 games back of Baltimore
The bad news is, they were only in first place for one day. And Tulo may be hurt after being hit in the hand with a pitch.
The good news is, they were in first place! They also won a key series against their division rivals, and we have Monday’s trade deadline to look forward to.
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