Series Sum-Up: vs Tampa Bay, August 8-10

J.A. Happ

Game 1: Monday, August 8th
Starting Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
Winning Pitcher: Joaquin Benoit
Save: Roberto Osuna


Devon Travis isn’t done with his leadoff heroics anytime soon, it would seem. He snapped Jake Odorizzi‘s streak of consecutive scoreless innings when, in the 1st inning, he sent his first-ever career triple past a diving outfielder, then scored on a Jose Bautista sac fly. Edwin Encarnacion homered that same inning, giving the Jays an early 2-0 lead. The Rays tied things in the 4th, with back-to-back doubles to score one run with nobody out, then a two-out Tim Beckham double to score another. In the bottom of that same inning, Josh Thole was hit with a pitch, Devon Travis singled, and Josh Donaldson reached on a dropped third strike, loading the bases with two outs. Encarnacion laced a two-RBI single into left to put Toronto ahead again, but a two-run Brad Miller double in the 5th would tie the game once more, and force Dickey to be removed after 4.1 innings. He’d given up four runs on six hits, and three walks.


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With the game still tied in the 7th, the Jays rallied off Tampa relievers Xavier Cedeno and Dylan Floro for three runs on the strength of three walks and two hits. Devon Travis drove in the first run with a single, and Jose Bautista the other two with a double. They stranded twelve baserunners over the course of the game, had twelve hits and six walks. Joe Biagini allowed a leadoff double in the 6th, but a heads-up play by Travis cut down the runner at third. Biagini would end up pitching 1.2 scoreless innings, and Joaquin Benoit and Jason Grilli each threw an inning. The Rays added a solo home run off the bat of Logan Forsythe in the 9th, but couldn’t overtake the lead. Travis had the first four-hit game of his career, with a triple, an RBI and two runs scored.



Game 2: Tuesday, August 9th
Jays lose, 2-9
Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada


Logan Forsythe led off the game with a home run, which set the tone for the rest of the game. Forsythe had three hits and two RBI, while Evan Longoria had three hits and three RBI. Marco Estrada allowed three runs (one unearned, as Devon Travis made a throwing error in the 4th) on seven hits and four walks over five innings. Though the lopsided score was ugly, it could have been worse! A deep fly ball to left from Tim Beckham in the 5th was ruled foul on replay instead of a home run. Beckham – who came up with two out and two on – would instead walk, and the next hitter struck out to end the inning.



The Blue Jays made it close in the bottom of the 5th, as two walks and a single loaded the bases with nobody out. Troy Tulowitzki scored on a Melvin Upton sac fly, and Travis singled to score Michael Saunders. The Jays loaded the bases again with nobody out in the 6th, but couldn’t score. The floodgates for the Rays opened as they battered the Toronto bullpen for eight hits, scoring two runs off Danny Barnes in the 6th, and four off Scott Feldman in the 7th.


Game 3: Wednesday, August 10th
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ


J.A. Happ’s day didn’t start off so well, as the first two batters he faced singled. He helped himself out by making a keen play when Logan Forsythe ill-advisedly ran home with one out in the 1st inning, then struck out the next hitter, stranding two. He again stranded a pair in the 2nd, and got a double play to erase a leadoff single in the 3rd. Happ gave up nothing but a walk from then on, but was pulled after six innings because he’d thrown 98 pitches.


On the other hand, Tampa starter Blake Snell was removed after 1.2 innings because he’d allowed five runs. Only two of those runs were earned, because Steven Souza Jr. made a fielding error in the 1st on a Josh Donaldson foul pop-up. The error was costly because Donaldson would eventually reach on a single (Devon Travis had already also singled), making two on with no outs. Snell retired the next two batters, but then Troy Tulowitzki homered, making it 3-0 Blue Jays.



Snell’s earned runs came in the 2nd when Darwin Barney doubled with one out, Travis singled to score Barney, and Josh Donaldson reached on a forceout. Snell would then walk the next three batters, including Tulowitzki with the bases loaded, which scored Donaldson. Snell’s replacement, Dylan Floro, stranded the bases loaded when Melvin Upton Jr. popped out to end the frame.


Upton stole his first three bases as a Blue Jay – two in the 1st and one in the 5th  – but was stranded on third each time. The Jays added runs in the 6th and 7th on a Tulowitzki RBI single and a Justin Smoak solo homer. Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli and Ryan Tepera each pitched an inning to complete the shutout. The Rays got just one hit after the third inning.


Overall Notes:

It was announced prior to Monday’s game that Kevin Pillar would be placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career because of a sprained thumb sustained during the series in Kansas City. It’s almost ironic – given all the crazy diving plays he makes, and all the time he’s been hit by pitches this year (second-most on the team), sliding into a base is what sidelines him.


Jose Bautista was also placed on the DL, on Tuesday, after he sprained his knee fielding a ball on Monday. Between his ‘turf toe’ injury in Philadelphia, and this one (he caught his cleat on the Skydome turf), I’m starting to think having him DH might not be such a bad idea after all…


On Wednesday, Troy Tulowitzki had a great game (more on that later). In spite of his performance, the moment that Jays Twitter paid perhaps the most attention to was when he was called out on strikes in the 4th. He stranded a runner on 2nd and subsequently made a face much like an six-year-old being told they can’t have a puppy for their birthday. Equal parts betrayal and disappointment. And thus, #SadTulo was born.



My favourite player(s) this series*: Tulowitzki/Happ/Encarnacion

The entertainment value of #SadTulo aside, Tulo went 3-for-9, walked three times, scored three times, and drove in five. His performance in Game 3 was the most impressive, as he went 2-for-3 with a walk, home run and five RBI. He also added to his defensive highlight reel with a running over-the-shoulder catch in Game 2.


J.A. Happ got his 16th win of the year by shutting out the Rays for six innings on four hits and two walks. He struck out seven, and settled in nicely after some early struggles. His was by far the most dominant pitching performance of the series.


Edwin Encarnacion took his parrot for its thirty-first walk of the season, in his 3-for-5 game Monday. He also drove in 3 runs that game, participated in two double plays, and walked twice on Wednesday.

*Non-Devon Travis divison


Where we are now: 
First(!!) in the AL East, a full game ahead of Baltimore


The bad news is, Pillar and Bautista are both hurt, so we’ll be seeing a patched-together outfield for the next few weeks. Saunders and Upton haven’t been hitting so well, and Ezequiel Carrera is still on the DL with that Achillies injury.


The good news is, they won a series against the perennial pain-in-the-rear Rays, and are in first place!!! 


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