Game 1: Monday, July 25th
JAYS WIN! 4-2
Winning pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Save: Roberto Osuna
The triumphant return of Jose Bautista had fewer fireworks than many would have hoped. Bautista was 1-for-3 in his return, with a walk and a single. The Jays as a whole had nine hits, three of which came from Kevin Pillar. Pillar also stole a base, scored a run and had an RBI double. The first run of the game came in the form of Michael Saunders, who hit a 1-out triple in the 4th and then scored on a Troy Tulowitzki sac fly. Pillar doubled to lead off the 5th, scored on a Devon Travis double, then Josh Donaldson singled to drive in Travis. Pillar doubled again in the 8th, driving in Tulowitzki.
After shutting out the Mariners the Sunday before, the Jays continued that streak behind Aaron Sanchez with seven shutout innings to begin this game. Jason Grilli had a scoreless 8th, although he hit a batter, but got a double play. An Alex Dickerson two-run homer off Bo Schultz in the 9th ended the shutout, but Roberto Osuna came in to close out the game and got two immediate outs to preserve the win. Sanchez earned his tenth consecutive winning decision, becoming one of four Jays pitchers to accomplish the feat. The others were Roger Clemens (twice), Juan Guzman, and most recently Roy Halladay.
Game 2: Tuesday, July 26th
JAYS WIN!! 7-6 (12 innings, walkoff)
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Winning Pitcher: Jesse Chavez
The day after acquiring outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. from their opponent, the Jays looked to have the game well in hand, up 3-1 in the 5th. After taking the lead on a 2-run Josh Donaldson homer in the 1st, and adding to it in the 5th with a Justin Smoak solo shot, Marcus Stroman’s start seemed to be going quite nicely. Unfortunately, he allowed two singles and a home run to Alex Dickerson in the top of the 6th, giving the Padres the lead. Stroman exited the game in the 7th after allowing a walk and a double, having given up four runs, seven hits, striking out seven and walking one. Joe Biagini stranded the runners at second and third when Troy Tulowitzki barehanded a ground ball.
The Jays tied things in the bottom of the 7th, after back-to-back walks, a forceout and then a wild pitch allowed Russell Martin to score. They would remain tied in spite of a few hit batters and one hit apiece over the next three innings. In the 12th, Jesse Chavez allowed a two-out double and then a home run to Matt Kemp, putting San Diego up 6-4. But the Jays rallied in their half, as a single, a forceout, and a double put two in scoring position with just one out. Devon Travis battled Paul Clemens for eight and a half minutes, fouling off eight in a row – including one on the thirteenth pitch that missed being a home run by just a few feet. Eventually, on the fourteenth pitch, he earned a walk. Jose Bautista also walked, bringing in a run, then Josh Donaldson grounded into another forceout which scored Darwin Barney and tied the game again.
When the 1-1 pitch to Edwin Encarnacion landed in the dirt and bounced away from the catcher, EE held up his hand to tell Travis at third to stay put. But Travis didn’t listen, and broke for home, sliding in underneath Clemens and winning the game.
Game 3: Wednesday, July 27th (Afternoon game)
Jays lose, 4-8
Losing Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
The 12 innings the night before finally caught up to the Blue Jays, since their bats seemed half-asleep. They managed two hits through the first five innings, scoring one run in the 5th on a walk and a sac fly. Dickey gave up seven runs (six earned) in 5.2 innings, including two home runs.
The Jays rallied briefly with two out in the 6th, as Encarnacion walked, Upton singled, Kevin Pillar drove in both with a double, and then Devon Travis and Ezequiel Carrera each singled, scoring Pillar. But their three-run rally wouldn’t matter as the Padres added another Alex Dickerson home run in the 8th. Surprisingly, both teams had six hits.
In addition to literally trading across the field for Upton, the Blue Jays acquired reliever Jaoquin Benoit from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for the recently-DFA Drew Storen.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Josh Donaldson becomes the first third baseman in Toronto history to have back-to-back seasons of 25 or more home runs.
My favourite player(s) this series: Travis
Being the hero of a walkoff will automatically get you this honour, but that’s not the only thing Travis accomplished this week. His fourteen-pitch at-bat in the 12th on Tuesday showed remarkable discipline, especially getting focused again after his near home-run. The second baseman was 4-for-9 in the series with a double, three walks and three runs scored. He also gave one of the happiest post-game interviews I’ve ever seen.
Where we are now:
2nd place in the AL East, 1.5 games back of Baltimore (following Thursday’s off-day)
The bad news is, the next series is against the Orioles, and as always will be a tough one. They’ve split the season series at 5 games each so far, and six of those games have been decided by just one run.
The good news is, Bautista is back, the trade deadline is soon so hopefully they’ll get some pitching help. If they play their best they could be in first place in the division as soon as Sunday.
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