Series Sum-Up: vs Tampa Bay, August 14-17


Game 1: Monday, August 14
JAYS WIN!! 2-1
Winning Pitcher: Nick Tepesch
Save: Roberto Osuna


All of the runs were scored in the first two innings of the game, and all on home runs. Josh Donaldson hit his second 1st-inning home run in two days for Toronto; he drove in Jose Bautista who had walked. Wilson Ramos took a Nick Tepesch slider to deep center field to cut into the lead in the top of the 2nd.


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Tepesch stranded a pair of two-out singles in the 3rd, and Jake Odorizzi allowed the two first batters to reach in the bottom of the inning, but they were left there. Tepesch walked a pair in the 4th, and then hit Daniel Robertson with a pitch to load the bases, but got a flyout to escape the jam. Tepesch ended the night by hitting the leadoff batter in the 7th and then walking Robertson. Aaron Loup stranded both batters, after Ryan Goins got Robertson on a confusing forceout (he stepped on the base before making a tag, allowing the other runner to stay there safely) which had to be reviewed. The final line for Tepesch was one run on four hits and three walks over 6.0 innings. Interestingly, he didn’t strike anyone out.


Odorizzi was done after the 6th inning, having allowed two runs on three hits and three walks, with four strikeouts. Loup went one additional hitless inning, with one walk and three strikeouts. Roberto Osuna got a four-out save, including a strikeout, without allowing a baserunner. The Jays had five hits total, one of which was a Steve Pearce triple in the 6th. That was only the fifth triple for the team all season.


Game 2: Tuesday, August 15
Jays lose, 4-6
Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada


Kevin Pillar put the Jays on the board in the 2nd inning, scoring Steve Pearce on a double which landed between two fielders and then skipped past them. Marco Estrada lost that lead when Lucas Duda hit a 2-run homer in the 3rd. Wilson Ramos led off the 4th with his second home run of the series, and after a double (a pop-up which Rob Refsnyder dropped) and a Corey Dickerson single, Tampa added a run.


In the 5th, the Rays loaded the bases with three singles, then Estrada walked two consecutive batters (one on four pitches; one on six) to force in a pair of runs. That ended his night, and Matt Dermody got two outs to strand the bases loaded. In the bottom half of that inning, the Jays got back in it with a single, a double, and a Josh Donaldson three-run homer.


In 4.2 combined innings of work by Toronto’s bullpen, three batters reached on hits (plus one on an error). Tim Mayza made his major-league debut to pitch the 9th. The left-hander struck out Peter Bourjos, the first batter he faced, then allowed a single, got a forceout, allowed a double, and got a lineout to end the inning without a run scoring.



Game 3: Wednesday, August 16
JAYS WIN!!! 3-2
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Save: Roberto Osuna


Marcus Stroman’s 11th win of the season came after a 6.1-inning start in which he allowed two runs on six hits and three walks. Jose Bautista drove in the first Toronto run in the 3rd with a double. Steve Pearce led off the 4th with a home run, his twelfth of the season.


Stroman kept the Rays scoreless until the 5th, when Mallex Smith hit a leadoff double, advanced on a groundout, and scored on another groundout. Pearce led off the 6th with a double, and then scored on a Ryan Goins single. Goins was injured when he tried to steal second – Daniel Robertson stepped on his forearm and Goins, bleeding, left the game.


Stroman then loaded the bases with one out in the 7th, prompting his removal from the game. Aaron Loup walked the next batter to force in a run. John Gibbons came in to make the pitching change, but was ejected by the home plate umpire. Gibbons proceeded to the mound anyways and took Loup out of the game. Dominic Leone came in and got a strikeout and a pop-out to end the inning. Ryan Tepera had a perfect 8th and Roberto Osuna stranded a leadoff single in the 9th to take the save.



Game 4: Thursday, August 17 (day game)
JAYS WIN!!! 5-3
Starting Pitcher: Chris Rowley
Winning Pitcher: Dominic Leone
Save: Roberto Osuna


All the Jays’ runs were driven in by two players: Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak. The Jays also had fewer hits (six) than their opponents (eleven). Chris Rowley’s ERA sits at 2.61 after he allowed two runs across 5.0 innings in his second career start. The Jays had a two-run lead following a Donaldson solo home run in the 1st, and a Smoak RBI single in the 3rd. Rowley held the Rays scoreless for 3 innings, and was helped out by his defense as Ryan Goins cut down a runner at the plate. Rowley went on to give up a run in the 4th after a walk and a Mallex Smith triple.


Donaldson homered again in the 5th, putting the Jays up 3-1. Rowley walked the leadoff hitter in the 6th, then the Rays hit two singles off Aaron Loup to load the bases. Danny Barnes came in and allowed one of the inherited runners to score on a forceout. Tim Mayza got two strikeouts in the 7th, and Evan Longoria tied the game with an RBI double off Dominic Leone in the 8th.


In the bottom half of that inning, Donaldson walked and Smoak drove him in with a home run. Roberto Osuna picked up his third save of the series, including a double play to erase a single, and a groundout.



Overall Notes:

On Tuesday, news came that Marco Estrada had been claimed off waivers by an AL East team (later reported to be the Yankees). That means the Blue Jays had 48 hours to either let him go, work out a trade, or pull him back. Considering he made his start that night, they obviously weren’t letting him go at that time, and 48 hours later he was still in Toronto – so that move won’t be happening.


Prior to the beginning of the series, Leonel Campos was optioned to Triple-A and Chris Smith (who was DFA over the weekend) was also outrighted to Buffalo. Taylor Cole was also released. On Wednesday, Dominic Leone was activated from the bereavement list, and Miguel Montero was activated from the disabled list. J.P. Howell and Mike Ohlman were both designated for assignment in the corresponding moves.


My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Donaldson

Josh Donaldson was absolutely on fire in this series. He had two hits in every game, plus two walks, going 8-for-13 (.615) for the series. Four of his hits were home runs, including two in the same game. He also had five runs scored and seven RBI.


Where We Are Now:
Tied (with Tampa and Baltimore) for third in the AL East, 10.5 games back of Boston, and 3.0 games back of the second Wild Card spot, with six teams ahead of them.


The bad news is, there are still a lot of teams in their way and it doesn’t get easier from here.

The good news is that they’re three games below .500 on the season for the first time in a long time.


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