Series Sum-Up: vs Tampa, April 27-30

Game 1: Friday, April 28

Jays lose, 4-7
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Blown Save: Jason Grilli


Marcus Stroman allowed a run in the 2nd with two outs, after a walk and two singles. He stranded a pair in the 3rd, then retired twelve in a row (aside from an error in the 5th, which was erased on a double play). After a leadoff home run in the 8th, Stroman was pulled from the game. He’d allowed five hits, two walks and two runs, plus ten strikeouts. He left the game with the lead. Then the bullpen came along.


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The Blue Jays had taken that lead in the 5th after stranding six over the first four innings. Kevin Pillar led off with a double, and scored on a Darwin Barney single. Jose Bautista singled, moving Barney to third, and Barney scored when Kendrys Morales hit into a double play. Tampa starter Blake Snell left the game after that inning. After a Devon Travis double was left on base in the 7th, Pillar hit a leadoff homer (his fourth of the year) off Austin Pruitt, increasing Toronto’s lead to 3-1. When Stroman left with one out in the 8th, it was 3-2 Jays.


Jason Grilli entered and gave up a game-tying home run to Evan Longoria, the first batter he faced. Grilli then walked Brad Miller and got a strikeout before he was replaced with Dominic Leone. Leone allowed a homer to Logan Morrison, scoring Miller and putting the Rays up 5-3. In the bottom half, Ezequiel Carrera reached on an infield single and Luke Maile reached on a Tim Beckham error that sent Carrera to third, but they couldn’t capitalize. They got one run in the 9th when Pillar led off with a double, Chris Coghlan pinch-hit a single, and Pillar scored on a Bautista sac fly.



Pillar had a great day at the plate. He was 4-for-4 plus a walk – he singled, hit two doubles, and a home run. He also led off the inning and got on base all five times he came up. Three of the Jays’ four runs were scored by him, and he also drove one in.



Game 2: Saturday, April 29

JAYS WIN!! 4-1
Winning Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Save: Roberto Osuna


Francisco Liriano pitched five innings of one-run ball, allowing four walks and four hits. He struck out six, and threw 99 pitches over his five innings. The Jays gave him a 1-0 lead in the 1st inning after Jose Bautista walked, then Rays shortstop Tim Beckham threw a Kendrys Morales ground ball into right field, and Bautista came around and scored. The Rays got the run back in the next inning when Jesus Sucre cashed in a Beckham walk. Chris Coghlan reached in the bottom of the 2nd, but was picked off of first base.


Morales then stranded a pair of singles in the top of the 4th, and in the bottom half Russell Martin hit an RBI double to put the Jays ahead 2-1. They expanded their lead in the 6th, when Bautista led off with a walk, then stole second base and Justin Smoak hit a one-out home run, his fourth of the year. Tampa starter Matt Andriese allowed four runs in seven innings, three of them earned. The Jays only had six hits (five off Andriese), the Rays had five. Joe Biagini replaced Liriano after a walk and an error put two on in the 6th. He pitched two innings and only allowed one baserunner, when he hit Steven Souza Jr. with a pitch.



Joe Smith allowed a hit and a walk, and with two outs and two runners on, Logan Morrison hit a foul ball into the left field foul territory. Ezequiel Carrera dove in to catch it but the ball popped out of his glove. Finally Morrison flew out to Kevin Pillar. Roberto Osuna got three straight outs to close out the game and earn the save.


Game 3: Sunday, April 30

JAYS WIN!! 3-1
Starting pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Winning Pitcher: J.P. Howell
Save: Roberto Osuna


Aaron Sanchez made his return to the Skydome on Sunday, throwing a hitless first inning… and then was promptly removed from the game because his surgically altered fingernail was bleeding. The Jays got three hits and a walk through the first five innings against Chris Archer, but couldn’t score. In the 6th , they looked to get lucky with one out when Jose Bautista was on first and Kendrys Morales doubled to right-center field, but the ball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double and Bautista had to stop at third. Justin Smoak struck out and Russell Martin grounded out to leave them both.


Ryan Tepera, Aaron Loup and Dominic Leone combined for 6 innings of scoreless relief for Toronto, with two hits and two walks allowed between them. The game was scoreless until the 8th when Joe Smith got into a bit of trouble. He allowed a leadoff walk and a single, then with one out, the Rays scored their first (and their only) run of the game on a Daniel Robertson sacrifice squeeze which scored Logan Morrison. JP Howell issued a walk and then got a flyout to end the inning.


Darwin Barney led off the bottom of the 8th with a walk, followed by a one-out Bautista double which scored Barney. Kendrys Morales was intentionally walked, then Russell Martin singled to score Bautista, which gave the Jays the lead, and Ezequiel Carrera got a pinch-hit single to score Morales. Roberto Osuna pitched the 9th for the Blue Jays and after a one-out fielding error and a two-out single put men on first and second, he struck out Derek Norris to end the game.



Overall Notes:

Luke Maile, the recently-promoted backup catcher, made his first appearance with Toronto in Game 1. He went 0-for-3 and walked once.

Matt Dermody was recalled before the series, then optioned to Buffalo before Sunday’s game without appearing in a game. When Sanchez was placed back on the DL on Monday, Danny Barnes was called up to replace him.

Chris Archer threw a pitch behind Jose Bautista early in Sunday’s game, which ruffled some feathers among players and fans. To read my in-depth post about that, click here.

A more humourous occurrence on Sunday was when Darwin Barney tripped on his way to first on a ground-out. It gave Barney himself a good laugh, so I wanted to include the video.



Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • Ezequiel Carrera reached a career-high hit streak, 9 games with his 8th-inning single Saturday, then extended it to 10 games with a single in the 8th on Sunday.
  • Jose Bautista recorded his 1000th hit as a Blue Jay with his game-tying RBI double on Sunday.


My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Martin/Tepera/Loup

Russell Martin only played two games but was 3-for-6 in the series. He doubled, walked, and drove in a pair of runs – both RBI were the go-ahead runs in their respective game.


A week after his extra-innings heroics in Anaheim, and a poor outing in St. Louis, Ryan Tepera pitched the longest outing of his career on Sunday, 3.1 scoreless innings over which he struck out five and only allowed one baserunner.


Aaron Loup followed up Tepera’s outing with a two-inning no-hit appearance of his own. He walked a pair, but also struck out one. It was definitely the kind of long relief outings the Jays needed, with Sanchez out of the game sooner than expected.


Where We Are Now:
Last in the AL East, 8.0 games back of Baltimore & New York


The bad news is, parts of the bullpen are still shaky, and it looks like we’re going to lose Aaron Sanchez again for a while for god knows how long, after just getting him back.

The good news is – they won a series against the Rays! They won a series! They won two games! In a row!


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