Game 1: Tuesday, September 27th
JAYS WIN!! 5-1
Winning Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Sanchez struck out the first four batters he faced (and five of the first six). The Blue Jays quickly got a 2-0 lead when Ezequiel Carrera led off the first inning with a walk and Josh Donaldson homered to drive him in. The lone Baltimore run came in the 3rd when Mark Trumbo singled to cash in a J.J. Hardy double. Troy Tulowitzki prevented the inning from becoming bigger when, with two on and one out, he caught a Manny Machado line drive.
Then it was Carrera’s turn to homer, his sixth of the season, in the bottom of that same inning. He got another chance to drive in a run when he came up in the 5th with Kevin Pillar on 2nd and one out. Pillar had singled, then moved over on a Darwin Barney sacrifice bunt. Carrera singled and Pillar scored. Carrera then scored when Edwin Encarnacion reached on a Manny Machado error. Carrera went 2-for-3 for the evening with a home run, a walk, two RBI, and three runs scored. The Jays had nine hits, seven of them off Kevin Gausman. Sanchez allowed one run on five hits and three walks in six innings. Joe Biagini came in for two scoreless innings and struck out two, then Roberto Osuna allowed two singles but got a double play to end the game.
Game 2: Wednesday, September 28th
Jays lose, 2-3
Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Losing Pitcher: Roberto Osuna (blown save)
The Blue Jays got a run in the first, with Ezequiel Carrera reaching on a Chris Davis error, scooting to third base on another error (this one a Chris Tillman pickoff attempt) and scoring on an Edwin Encarnacion sac fly. Another sac fly, off the bat of Kevin Pillar, scored another run in the 2nd. They had six hits off Chris Tillman in five and two thirds innings, then didn’t get a single hit off the Orioles’ bullpen.
Francisco Liriano kept the O’s scoreless for his six and a third innings, and Brett Cecil finished the job in the 7th by stranding two singles. Liriano didn’t allow a baserunner in the first three innings, nor in an 8-pitch 6th. He allowed six hits and one walk, struck out ten, and also stranded the bases loaded in the 5th. The first Orioles run came off Jason Grilli with two outs in the 8th – a solo Mark Trumbo homer. In the bottom of the 8th, the Jays loaded the bases when Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin were both hit with pitches, and Troy Tulowitzki walked. Then Melvin Upton, Jr. struck out to leave them there.
Osuna started the 9th with a one-run lead and gave up a single to Jonathan Schoop, then a pinch-hit home run to Hyun Soo Kim. Osuna’s second blown save in the last week led to a one-run Orioles lead and, when the Jays went down on two strikeouts and a groundout in the bottom of the 9th, the loss.
Game 3: Thursday, September 29th
Jays lose, 0-4
Losing pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Ubaldo Jimenez only allowed one hit to the Blue Jays over 6.1 innings – a leadoff single to Ezequiel Carrera in the 1st inning. That was it, although they did get three walks off of him. Devon Travis – making his first start this series after being injured in the Yankee fight – walked to lead off the 3rd, but was eventually stranded at third base. Toronto had one baserunner between the 4th and the 7th.
Marcus Stroman got lucky in the 1st, stranding a pair of singles. He allowed the first run in the 3rd on a J.J. Hardy double and a Manny Machado sac fly, then another in the 4th on a Michael Bourn fourceout. The Orioles touched Stroman up for a run in each of the 7th and 8th innings, and he left with nobody out in the 8th. Aaron Loup got a strikeout, and Ryan Tepera pitched an inning and a third. Edwin Encarnacion doubled in the 9th (the third of three hits for Toronto) and advanced to third base on a balk, but was still there at the end of the game when Jose Bautista struck out and Russell Martin grounded out.
With the Jays’ loss on Thursday, the Red Sox have clinched the American League East championship. The Blue Jays will now have to battle it out with Baltimore for the Wild Card, with Detroit and Seattle also possibly being factors.
If they don’t make the wild card, this is possibly the last home game for Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, as they are both free agents at the end of the season. This point was really driven home when, after being stranded on third in Thursday’s loss, Encarnacion sat alone in the dugout looking out into the stadium before giving a poignant wave goodbye.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Game 2 was the 13th straight game where the starting pitcher allowed 2 or fewer ER, a record streak for the franchise
- It was also the 7th consecutive game where they starter allowed 1 or fewer ER, a first in team history
- Troy Tulowitzki’s catch on Machado’s line drive in Game 1 was a first for this season:
Similarly batted balls have gone for a hit 100% of the time this year. Literally the first time someone’s made an out on a ball like that.
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) September 27, 2016
My favourite player(s) this series: Carrera
He rarely gets his due in this section, since he rarely starts games and often is used as a defensive replacement. But Ezequiel Carrera has been making the most of his opportunities recently. He hit a home run, but also went 5-for-10 (.500) in the series, scored 4 runs and had 2 RBI. Not bad at all for someone who was leading off as a replacement for the injured Devon Travis.
Where we are now:
Tied with Baltimore for the second place in the AL East, 5.0 games back of Boston, and tied for the Wild Card
The bad news is, they have no chance of overtaking the lead for the division, they need to play the division champs and win in order to make sure they’re in the Wild Card game – and then they’ll need to win the Wild Card game.
The good news is, their starting pitching continues to be good, they’ve won more games against the Red Sox than they’ve lost, and anything can happen on the last weekend of the year.
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