Series Sum-Up: vs Tampa Bay, Sept 12-14

Marco Estrada

Game 1: Monday, September 12th
Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Winning Pitcher: Jason Grilli
Save: Roberto Osuna


Jake Odorizzi kept the Blue Jays scoreless for five innings – they stranded a runner in each of the first three, including two doubles. Finally their luck turned when Devon Travis led off the 6th with a double, and Jose Bautista hit a two-out, two-run homer. The only baserunners Liriano allowed through his first six innings were a single to start the game, and a walk in the 5th. He held off the Rays from scoring until the 7th, when the first two batters he faced hit home runs. Joaquin Benoit replaced him with one out, allowed a walk and another runner reached on an error, but he escaped leaving the game tied. Ezequiel Carrera pinch-hit for Darwin Barney to lead off the 8th, and he drove the first pitch he saw from Brad Boxberger over the left-field wall.



The most intriguing part of the game happened after everyone thought it was already over. Roberto Osuna, closing out the 9th with a runner on first, threw a 1-2 pitch to Steven Souza Jr. that Souza seemed to foul-tip into Russell Martin‘s glove. But the ball missed, instead glancing off the top of the glove after Osuna already had begun his post-game ritual of crossing himself, and the triumphant horn had already started to blow. The outfielders were coming in from the field before anyone other than Souza, Martin and the umpire realized what had happened. Once they communicated the situation, Osuna sheepishly returned to the mound and threw another pitch, a ball. The next pitch Souza sent to deep center field where a running Kevin Pillar tracked it down to end the game for good.


But the drama didn’t stop there, as Souza apparently mis-heard something that Martin said, and began yelling at Martin as his own teammates came in to stop him. Troy Tulowitzki, coming in off the field, confronted Souza and it looked like a fight was about to break out until Martin stepped in and spoke to Souza, who then patted him on the helmet and left the field.



Game 2: Tuesday, September 13th
Jays lose, 2-6
Losing pitcher: Marcus Stroman


Once again, both teams were held scoreless for the first four innings. Toronto turned three double plays – including one on a fly ball to right fielder Ezequiel Carrera – which helped out Marcus Stroman, but in the 5th he allowed a double, a walk, and a home run to Alexei Ramirez to give the Rays a three-run lead. Toronto got to within a run when Russell Martin hit a two-run homer in the 6th, but then Steven Souza Jr. homered in the top half of the next inning off Joe Biagini (the second of three runs he would score in the game). The Jays loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th, with a leadoff single, then a two-out single and a walk, but Edwin Encarnacion struck out to strand them all.



With the game 4-2 Tampa in the 9th, Matt Dermody gave up a leadoff single to Corey Dickerson, the only batter he faced. Scott Feldman replaced Dermody and allowed a walk to Souza, a sac bunt and another walk, then a fielder’s choice which allowed Dickerson to score. Enter Aaron Loup, who threw exactly two pitches – one was wild and scored Souza from third, and the other hit the batter. Ryan Tepera was forced to come in and get the final out, making him the seventh Blue Jays pitcher to work in the game. Despite out-hitting the Rays 9-7, the Blue Jays couldn’t even get a baserunner in their last inning. They stranded seven.


Game 3: Wednesday, September 14th (day game)
Jays lose, 1-8
Losing pitcher: Marco Estrada


Devon Travis scored the only run for the Blue Jays when he led off the 1st inning with a double, Michael Saunders bunted him over, and Edwin Encarnacion drove him in with a sac fly. Travis’ double, and a Dioner Navarro single in the 7th would be Toronto’s only hits of the game. They also stranded four walks.


Estrada started off strong, not allowing a baserunner for the first three innings, and striking out six of the first nine hitters he faced. But his start derailed in the 4th when Logan Forsythe led off with a single, then Kevin Kiermaier homered. One out later, Estrada walked Brad Miller, and two batters later a Corey Dickerson single scored Miller. He walked a pair in the 5th but stranded them, then allowed a one-out single in the 6th that would be his last  batter of the game. Matt Dermody allowed a two-run homer to the only hitter he faced, then Tampa hit three singles off Danny Barnes, tacking on another run.


Overall Notes: 

Josh Donaldson, who’s been slumping since the start of the month, sat out this entire series with a sore hip. He’d been 0-for-23 in the week prior, including striking out seven times. Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins played third base this series in his absence.


Here’s some optimism wisdom from John Gibbons, who apparently isn’t familiar with Murphy’s Law:


But it’s OK, because Russell Martin has the optimism quotient covered. I particularly enjoyed the phrase “crush some people”


Weirdly Specific Record Alert: 

  • Marco Estrada is the first pitcher in Blue Jays history to strike out the first five batters in a game.
  • Russell Martin becomes only the second catcher in MLB history to hit 80 home runs in both the National and American Leagues


My favourite player(s) this series: Carrera/Martin/Travis/Liriano

This wasn’t a series full of moments to be proud of, but Ezequiel Carrera gave us a fun one. He was expected to get on base in a tie game, but instead opted not to wait to be driven in, and scored himself with his career-high 5th home run of the season.


Russell Martin also hit a home run in this series, albeit not one that mattered in the outcome of the game. I did, however, want to point out that apparently the reason for the fight-that-wasn’t at the end of Monday’s game started because Martin was being nice and complimented another player. Said player then misheard the compliment, or took it the wrong way, and Martin had to use his diplomacy skills to defuse the situation. This just seemed very funny to me, because I’ve never heard of a fight starting because somebody said something kind to another person. It seemed so very Canadian.


As of the end of this series, Devon Travis has an 11-game hit streak. He went 4-for-12 with a double, and two runs scored, making him exactly one-third of the offense in terms of runs over the three games.


Despite the fact that he left with the score tied, the first six innings of Liriano’s outing were spectacular. He only faced two over the minimum due to one hit and one walk. Even his final line is something to be proud of – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts.


Where we are now:
3rd place in the AL East, 2 games back of Boston, 1 game back of Baltimore, and in the second wild card spot.


The bad news is they’ve fallen quite a lot in the standings over the last few weeks, and this is another season when they’ve had a losing record to the Rays. Also the Rays this year are a last-place team.


The good news is we don’t have to see the Rays again for the rest of the season.


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