For the first time in 31 such games this year, the Blue Jays took the lead after trailing in the 8th inning. Nomar Mazara hit a solo home run in the 1st, and Justin Smoak followed suit in the 2nd to tie the game. Marco Estrada stranded back-to-back singles in the 3rd, and the Blue Jays took a 5-1 lead the next inning after Jose Bautista hit a home run, Kendrys Morales doubled, Smoak singled, and Russell Martin walked to load the bases. Steve Pearce hit a bases-clearing two-out double, increasing the lead.
In the bottom half, Estrada walked two of the first four batters, and struck out the other two. Shin-Soo Choo then singled to load the bases, and Elvis Andrus singled, driving in a pair. After another walk, which loaded the bases again, Adrian Beltre doubled to score three, making it 6-5 Rangers. Estrada was pulled from the game after 3.2 innings, 6 runs on seven hits, and four walks. Dominic Leone came in and got an out, then walked three in a row to loaded the bases in the 5th. Aaron Loup came in and got two outs to strand them loaded.
Toronto then stranded the bases full of Jays after a single, a double and a walk with one out. They stranded a walk in each of the next two innings, meanwhile the bullpen was keeping the Rangers off the bases. Ryan Goins led off the 9th with a double off Matt Bush, and tied the game when he scored on a Josh Donaldson single. Bautista walked, and Morales singled, scoring Donaldson and giving the Jays the lead. Roberto Osuna got the save after shutting down three batters on nine pitches. The Rangers hadn’t gotten a runner since the 5th.
Perennial foe Rougned Odor made five plate appearances – all five times, he was the final out of that inning. Toronto had ten hits and nine baserunners stranded, Texas had seven while stranding eight.
Game 2: Tuesday, June 20
Jays lose, 1-6
Losing Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Once again, an attempt to reach .500 was fruitless. The Rangers put up a 4-spot on Francisco Liriano in the 1st inning, and the Jays couldn’t recover. After hitting a leadoff bunt single on which nobody covered first, Delino Deshields stole second and then reached third on a wild pitch. He scored when Adrian Beltre grounded out, then Carlos Gomez hit a home run and Rougned Odor singled and scored on a Jonathan Lucroy double which Kevin Pillar misread. Mike Napoli drove in Lucroy, but was thrown out trying to advance to second, ending the inning.
The Jays stranded a leadoff double in the 2nd, then Ryan Goins walked with one out in the 3rd, but Pillar lined into a double play. Russell Martin threw out Elvis Andrus trying to steal third base in the 4th. Nomar Mazara hit a solo home run (his second in two days) in the 5th to put the Rangers ahead 5-0.
In the 7th inning, Toronto loaded the bases on three walks. Batting with one out, Steve Pearce barely missed a grand slam. The ball was so close to the left-field foul pole that it was sent to review. Pearce fouled off the first seven straight pitches of the at-bat, before taking a ball and then fouling off two more. He was then called out on a strike over the outside corner. The Jays got on the board when Goins dropped a shallow fly ball into left field, plating Justin Smoak. Pillar struck out looking to end the inning.
Smoak doubled with two out in the 8th but Kendrys Morales (who had been on first base at the time) didn’t score. Troy Tulowitzki then grounded out, stranding them both. Adrian Beltre hit a home run in the bottom half of the inning, to make it 6-1 Rangers. Liriano went 4.2 innings, with five runs allowed on seven hits, including two home runs. He also walked a pair and struck out three.
Game 3: Wednesday, June 21
JAYS WIN!!! 7-5
Winning Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Save: Roberto Osuna
John Gibbons shook up his lineup – Jose Bautista leading off, Dwight Smith Jr. second, Josh Donaldson third, and Justin Smoak batting cleanup – with days off for Kevin Pillar, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki. It paid off right away, as the Jays put up a six-run lead in the 1st inning. Bautista led off with a walk, advanced on a pickoff error, and reached third when Smith grounded out. Smoak plated him with a single, then a single and a pair of doubles scored three, and Darwin Barney hit a two-run homer. Luke Maile was the final out of the nine-batter inning.
They added to their lead in the 3rd when Smoak led off with a double. He then advanced on a single and scored on a Ryan Goins groundout. In the bottom of the 3rd, Joey Gallo doubled and Shin-Soo Choo drove him in with a two-run homer. Steve Pearce was hurt running into the wall on what would become a Gallo inside-the-park home run. That was the third run for the Rangers. Pearce finished the defensive half of that inning, but was replaced by Kevin Pillar in the bottom of the 7th.
On Joey Gallo’s inside the park home run Josh Donaldson (the 3rd baseman?) ran 182ft into LF. pic.twitter.com/O0MC8fLQk7
— Daren Willman (@darenw) June 22, 2017
Another pair would score in the 6th, when Biagini was done after giving up a two-out single to Mike Napoli. Gallo doubled against Aaron Loup, then scored when DeShields singled. DeShields was nearly thrown out at first base, but the call was overturned on replay. Kendrys Morales hit a ball hard off the wall in left center field leading off the 8th, but it bounced right back to the fielder and Morales was thrown out at second. Pillar then singled, got to second on a balk, stole third, and was stranded there. Danny Barnes, Ryan Tepera, and Roberto Osuna combined for 3.1 scoreless innings, with Osuna picking up the save.
Game 4: Thursday, June 22 (Day game)
Jays lose, 4-11
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Just like in his last start, Marcus Stroman allowed three home runs. He would go 4 innings total, allowing 7 runs on seven hits and two walks. The Jays stranded a Russell Martin double in the 1st, then the Rangers scored one on a walk and a double. Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer in the 2nd to put the Rangers up 3-0. Jose Bautista doubled in the 3rd, but was thrown out trying to steal third base. Carlos Gomez hit a three-run, two-out homer off the foul pole in the bottom of that inning to double the Texas lead. In the 4th, a leadoff single was eliminated when Troy Tulowitzki hit into a double play. Robinson Chirinos then homered, increasing the Rangers’ lead to 7.
Darwin Barney hit into another double play in the 5th, but then Luke Maile put the Jays on the board with a double after Dwight Smith Jr. was hit with a pitch. Bautista walked on four pitches, Russell Martin scored Maile with a first-pitch single, then Justin Smoak walked to load the bases. Kendrys Morales plated a pair with a single that got under Shin-Soo Choo’s glove. Tulowitzki ended the inning with a forceout, but four runs had scored between the second and third outs of the inning. Pillar led off the 6th with a double, and moved to third when Barney flew out to deep right field, but was stranded after two strikeouts.
Maile easily threw out Napoli stealing, erasing a HBP. Reliever Cesar Valdez then stranded a two-out double and a walk. Two of the three Jays outs in the 7th were foul popups to the catcher Chirinos. Then Adrian Beltre doubled and Gomez hit another home run, making it 9-4 Rangers. In the 8th, the Jays almost caught Chirinos in a rundown at third base, but Greg Gibson, the home plate umpire, ruled interference on Tulowitzki and the run was allowed to score. Valdez left two on base with one out for Jeff Beliveau. Beliveau walked Nomar Mazara to load the bases, then Adrian Beltre hit a sac fly to bring in another.
Joe Smith went on the disabled list prior to this series. His replacement, Leonel Campos, joined him two days later after sustaining a groin injury in Game 1. Josh Donaldson was scratched before Game 4 because of a sore knee.
Mind blowing: home runs have accounted for 165 of 297 total runs for the #BlueJays (55.6%), the highest rate in MLB history.
— steve buffery (@Beezersun) June 20, 2017
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- In the 4th inning of Tuesday’s game, Jose Bautista took the 5th spot on the list of most all-time plate appearances in Blue Jays history. He passed George Bell with his 4878th PA.
- Bautista has also set the new club record for most career starts in right field on Wednesday. He passed Jesse Barfield with his 857th.
- Justin Smoak is the 4th-fastest player in team history to reach 20 home runs in a season. It took him 227 at-bats to reach the milestone.
- Roberto Osuna is the youngest pitcher in MLB history to reach 75 saves.
- Osuna also currently has the longest-running active save streak in the MLB, with sixteen in a row.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Pearce/Smoak
Steve Pearce was 5-for-11 in this series, with two doubles and four RBI. He has at least one hit in every game since returning from the DL last Friday, and has an RBI in every game but one. But one of his most memorable moments was an out – the strikeout in Game 2 when he fouled off seven pitches in a row. He was truly battling, and it was very impressive.
Justin Smoak is riding a 7-game hit streak, with seven hits in fifteen at-bats this series. He walked three times, hit two doubles, a home run, and drove in two.
Where We Are Now:
Tied with Baltimore for 4th in the AL East, 5.0 games back of New York and Boston
The bad news is, they still just can’t seem to draw even in the win column. Joe Smith, who’s been incredibly reliable all year, is hurt, and the replacements aren’t on the same level.
The good news is, they’ve won yet another season series against the Rangers, and are tied for 4th in the division rather than dead last.
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