Game 1: Thursday, June 30th
Jays lose, 1-4
Losing Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
Really, that’s it? One measly run? After all the mashing they did in Colorado, you’d think they could summon more than one run on three hits off of Carlos Carrasco. Josh Donaldson launched a solo homer into the Westjet Flight Deck in the 4th inning, giving R.A. Dickey his only run support. Devon Travis singled in the 1st but was erased on a double play, and Darwin Barney doubled in the 8th. Those three, plus three walks, accounted for the only six Blue Jays baserunners. They went down in order five times, and struck out seventeen times.
Dickey lasted a full seven innings, allowing three earned runs and eight hits. He gave up two home runs, one each in the 2nd and 3rd inning. Brett Cecil made his triumphant return to the Blue Jays’ bullpen, and pitched a perfect 8th with one strikeout. Bo Schultz, also recently back from the DL, handled the 9th and gave up another run after a Rajai Davis double and a Tyler Naquin triple. On the defensive side of things, Josh Donaldson made a sliding basket catch on a foul pop-up, and Dickey picked yet another baserunner off first. (If you only watch one of those highlight vids, make sure it’s the pickoff, because Dickey’s feet are so fast, and Pat Tabler interrupts himself mid-sentence to say ‘he’s out’. It’s kind of great.)
Game 2: Friday, July 1st (Day game)
Jays lose, 1-2 (19 innings)
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Losing ‘Pitcher’: Darwin Barney
The short of it? The Jays battled Cleveland for nineteen innings, where neither team could score for twelve in front of a captive Canada Day crowd, and ended up losing after running out of pitchers and trotting out not one, but TWO position players to pitch.
The long of it will be broken down in a single-game recap, for those of you who want to remember every moment of this ridiculous game.
Two long streaks ended here. One was thrilling for Blue Jays fans, the other sad. The franchise-record Cleveland win streak that had been rolling for fourteen games was snapped, but so too was Marco Estrada’s MLB-record streak of twelve consecutive starts with five or fewer hits allowed in six or more innings; severe back soreness forced the starter to leave the game after just five innings. The upside to that is that his own body is what forced him to end it, rather than someone else’s bat (he’d only allowed five hits up to that point, two of which were solo home runs). Rajai Davis hit for the cycle against his former team, but his two RBI and two runs scored couldn’t surpass the Blue Jays’ offense against a patched-together Cleveland bullpen.
Toronto took an early lead on a three-run Edwin Encarnacion homer in the 1st, and a two-run Troy Tulowitzki dinger in the 5th. When Estrada turned the ball over to Joe Biagini, the score was 5-3. Biagini loaded the bases and allowed a run on a dropped third strike, single, walk and hit batter. Aaron Loup came in with two out and stranded all three runners, but the recently-called-up Drew Hutchison surrendered two runs, and the lead, on three hits in the 7th. Josh Donaldson tied the game with a solo homer in the bottom of that inning, then drove in the winning run with a double in the 8th. Ezequiel Carrera made a very Donaldson-esque dive to score, narrowly avoiding a tag at the plate. It was reviewed, and he was safe. Michael Saunders then drove in a pair of insurance runs with a double.
I’m 6 hours late with this one, but Zeke’s reaction to the safe call was priceless. pic.twitter.com/rnKsHFqbza
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) July 3, 2016
Game 4: Sunday, July 3rd
JAYS WIN!!!! 17-1
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
I guess, after their win streak ended, the Cleveland players decided to go home early? Corey Kluber made the start, and only lasted 3.1 innings. The Jays scored five runs on seven hits off Kluber, including a three-run homer by Russell Martin in the 1st. That would have been more than enough to win the game, as Happ sailed through seven innings and allowed a single run on five hits. He held Cleveland scoreless on two hits through the first six.
Troy Tulowitzki narrowly missed a second-deck grand slam, on his own bobblehead day, in the 4th (it was foul by about three feet) and eyed it with amusing disappointment.
— Lesley Mak (@lesley_mak) July 3, 2016
That particular at-bat ended on a sac fly, but he made up for it with a three-run shot in the 6th. That inning was quite fun for Jays fans and players alike, as they sent thirteen batters to the plate and scored eight runs. They had three walks, five singles, a ground-rule double, and Tulowitzki’s homer before the inning was over. To put it another way: there were three outs in the bottom of the 6th, and Justin Smoak was two of them. Cleveland was forced to bring in a position player (Chris Gimenez) to pitch to the surging Jays. They went down in order in the 7th, but the runs didn’t stop there as two doubles, an RBI single and a Smoak home run comprised a four-run 8th. When all was said and done, the Jays had nineteen hits – nine for extra bases – ten walks, and had stranded twelve. Everyone had scored at least once, three players had three-hit games, and one (Donaldson) was 4-for-4 plus a pair of walks.
So much happened in this series. So many highs, so many lows. Everything seemed to last forever. So much baseball. I think I need a nap.
PS Blue Jays – you could have won all four games with just the runs you scored in the last one. I did the math.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- The Blue Jays tied their franchise record for the longest game ever played, at 19 innings.
- Troy Tulowitzki has now hit a home run against every single MLB team. He’s only the 10th active player to do so.
My favourite player(s) this series: Martin/Donaldson/Tulowitzki/Happ/Travis
That’s a lot of players, but this was a long series. Four games, with five games’ worth of baseball. Plenty happened.
Russell Martin might have gotten ejected from the game on Friday, but he had an outstanding game two days later as he went 3-for-4, walked twice, scored three times and drove in an astonishing five runs.
Josh Donaldson can take a lot of credit for snapping the Cleveland win streak – he drove in both the tying and winning runs in Game 3. He also had that four-hit game on Sunday, drove in four runs across the whole series, homered twice and walked five times.
Tulo’s bobblehead day was met with a lot of excitement, and he lived up to the hype by putting on a three-hit show for the fans. He homered, singled twice, and drove in four. That was in addition to his three-hit, two-walk performance on Friday, plus the home run he hit on Saturday which (as previously mentioned) gave him at least one against every franchise in Major League Baseball.
Happ became the first Blue Jays pitcher to reach eleven wins before the All-Star Break since Roy Halladay did it in 2008. I know, I know, the win stat for pitchers is stupid. But anytime you can compare someone to Roy Halladay, you do it. Way to go, J.A.! This start of his was phenomenal, as he went seven innings with only one run allowed, five hits and didn’t walk anyone. He also struck out eleven, just one short of his career high.
Devon Travis had a streak of his own, nine games up to and including Saturday (he didn’t play on Sunday). Additionally he displayed some slick fielding maneuvers, starting a double play, and flipping a ground ball to first base using only his glove.
Where we are now:
3rd place in the American League East, 3.5 games back of Baltimore
The bad news is, Ryan Goins has been placed on the DL, suffering forearm tightness after pitching on Friday. Bautista is still on the DL, and Marco Estrada is suffering from back pain which may affect his ability to make his next start.
The good news is, they split a series against the team that was miles ahead in the AL Central. That makes me a little more optimistic about the upcoming series against the Royals and Tigers. The Royals in particular haven’t been doing so well lately.
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