The old Drew Hutchison run support magic wasn’t out in full force on this day – the Jays only scored two while he was still in the game. A walk, RBI single and a double cashed two runs in the 1st, and then they stranded nine over the course of the next five – including leaving the bases loaded twice. Hutch lasted six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits – including two solo homers – and a walk, and striking out seven. The Tigers scored again in the 7th off Brett Cecil.
Tigers starter Justin Verlander fared only slightly better, as the two runs in the 1st were the only ones he allowed. He was pulled after 5.2 innings, six hits and four walks. A leadoff double by Michael Saunders in the bottom of the 7th turned into the third Blue Jays run when Troy Tulowitzki drove him in. Tulo capped off a nice little rally in the 8th when he cashed the game-tying and -winning runs on a single.
Game 2: Friday, July 8th
JAYS WIN!! 6-0
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
There’s something about that 7th inning… After scoring one run in the 4th with six hits through the first six innings, the Blue Jays’ bats truly came alive in the 7th against Detroit reliever Kyle Ryan. A Justin Smoak single and a Kevin Pillar double scored one run, then with two outs and a new pitcher they scored three more on an Edwin Encarnacion home run. Two singles that followed were stranded, but two more singles and a sac fly in the 8th led to another run for the home team.
Happ earned the win after 5.2 shutout innings with six hits. He struck out nine and only walked one, the final batter he faced. The Blue Jays may have hit into three double plays and turned none themselves, but their defense did help Happ and the other pitchers – Josh Donaldson ended the 5th inning when he barehanded a ball that bounced off third base, and Troy Tulowitzki made an incredible leaping throw in the 9th.
The best part of this Tulo jump throw? He just casually walks backwards out of frame. pic.twitter.com/XNIAQaVHoB
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) July 9, 2016
Game 3: Saturday, July 9th
Jays lose, 2-3
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Losing Pitcher: Jason Grilli
Both starters went only five innings, but former Blue Jay Matt Boyd outdueled Aaron Sanchez – he allowed just one run and four hits to Aaron’s two and five. Devon Travis tied the game in the 7th with a solo home run, but the Tigers answered in the 8th with a solo shot of their own, off Grilli, to pull ahead.
Game 4: Sunday, July 10th
JAYS WIN! 6-1
Winning Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
AL RBI leader Edwin Encarnacion decided to drop his appeal and serve his suspension today, but his team didn’t need his bat to take the win, and the series, from Detroit. They took the lead in the 2nd, after a two-out two-RBI single by Josh Thole. In the 3rd, they tallied three hits, but the first was erased on a double play and the others were stranded. They broke the game open in the 4th on a two-out, three run homer by Josh Donaldson. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez was removed after five runs in four innings. The Blue Jays loaded the bases in the 8th, but could only get one more run out of it.
Dickey earned his second consecutive home win after seven strong innings in which he allowed the only Tigers run. He gave up five hits, walked two, and struck out five, throwing ninety-one pitches along the way. His team tallied fourteen hits, while the opposition had only six.
The pitching was quite consistent in this series, how great is that? Even in their only loss, the starter didn’t allow more than two runs.
Michael Saunders was announced on Friday to be the winner of the American League final fan vote into the All-Star Game, which was such a nice moment for the left fielder as well as his home country. The fans (especially Twitter) really rallied behind him, and as he repeatedly told reporters, he “felt loved”. Awww.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- J.A. Happ became the first Blue Jay since Roy Halladay to have twelve wins before the All-Star Break
- Josh Donaldson became only the sixth player of all time to have 80 runs scored and 20+ (23) home runs before the break. The others are Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Reggie Jackson, Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez.
My favourite player(s) this series: Thole/Pillar
I know, I know, Josh Thole only participated in one game this series, but he had such a good one that I wanted to single him out for recognition (also he hasn’t had a turn as my favourite yet, so it’s only fair). He went 2-for-3, plus a walk, scored a run, and tripled his RBI total for the season, driving in two (after hitting a solo homer in the second game of the year). All that, and he didn’t even allow a passed ball! Way to go, Josh!
Kevin Pillar performed well on both ends of the ball, as he went 8-for-16 at the plate with a double, an RBI. He also had one walk and scored three runs. Out in center field, he made yet another one of his trademark diving catches, robbing Justin Upton of a hit.
Where we are now:
Tied with Boston for 2nd place in the AL East, 2.0 games back of the Orioles
The bad news is, no baseball for four days during the All-Star Break.
The good news is, they’re in a great position at the end of the first half, eleven games over .500 and far better than their record at this time last year.
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