Well this wasn’t quite the triumphant ALDS rematch we were all hoping for, was it? Nor was the long-awaited matchup of Jose Bautista and Sam Dyson in the 8th, with two men on and no outs (he lined out to right). But I guess, when all is said and done, the main takeaway from this game is… It could have been worse? The veterans in the Rangers’ offense were basically shut down, and the only runs came from solo homers by rookies Brett Nicholas and Nomar Mazara.
Fans had been hoping that May would bring a settled-down R.A. Dickey, and for six glorious innings that’s exactly what we got. Through those six, Dickey allowed just one run (the Nicholas homer) on four hits and two walks. Then in the seventh he loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, and was pulled. Gavin Floyd managed to escape that inning unscathed after a nice Pillar-Tulowitzki double play where Delino Deshields was tagged going to 2nd, and on review it was ruled that he was out prior to the run scoring.
The only Blue Jays run came after Kevin Pillar doubled in the 3rd, and Michael Saunders drove him in. Then, in the 8th, they loaded the bases with one out but couldn’t score as Troy Tulowitzki popped out and Saunders was tagged out at the plate to end the inning. Brett Cecil threw literally one pitch and got an out, and Drew Storen had a perfect 9th, but the offense couldn’t catch up. They stranded 8 baserunners over the course of the game.
I would like to take this opportunity to take back every bad thought, word, or tweet I’ve ever had about Justin Smoak. He apparently felt (like me) that a solo homer on the second pitch of the entire game, followed by 6 scoreless innings, was a pretty dumb thing for Marco Estrada to take the loss on. So he made sure that wouldn’t be how the game ended. With his first home run of the year, Smoak tied the game in the 9th. It was sent into extra innings after Jose Bautista flew out with the bases loaded.
Then, when the lineup circled back around and the game was still tied in the 10th, Smoak just finished it off himself. A very jubilant Edwin Encarnacion (who snapped an 0-for-20 streak with a single) was technically the winning run, but Smoak got all the glory, and the hugs.
On the pitching side of things, the Rangers had just two hits and one walk off Estrada, and the combined efforts of Chavez, Cecil and Osuna kept them off the board, with four hits and a walk. Biagini then pitched 2 scoreless innings to close the game and get the first win of his major-league career!
What’s that, baseball gods? You’re rewarding us for our patience with TWO walkoff wins in a row?? We are blessed.
This game didn’t start off so well, as the Rangers had 6 hits and scored three runs off Aaron Sanchez in the first two innings alone. But Sanchez settled in from there and would go a total of seven innings, allowing just two walks and one additional hit. He struck out five, and at one point retired nine batters in a row.
The Blue Jays were quick to earn back the first run, as Michael Saunders hit a ground-rule double to lead off the bottom of the 1st, and Jose Bautista drove him in. They didn’t have any farther luck for four innings, getting just one more hit in that span off starter Colby Lewis. In the 6th, Bautista walked and Edwin Encarnacion tied the game with a towering homer that just barely stayed fair down the left field line. Drew Storen and Roberto Osuna threw the 8th and 9th innings respectively, both scoreless. But the real craziness happened in the 9th, when – with the game still tied – a single and two walks loaded the bases with one out for Russell Martin.
Martin, who has been struggling at the plate since Opening Day, and shaved off his trademark beard earlier this week in a superstitious effort to change things up, hit a ball to deep right field. Now, a sac fly still would have won the game, but I think the fact that the ball just missed Nomar Mazara’s glove was the cherry on top. It made Martin go 2-for-4 for the first time in a long time, and he definitely seemed pleased as his teammates raced out to celebrate with him.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 5, 2016
Game 4: Thursday, May 5th
JAYS WIN!! 12-2
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Now that’s more like the Blue Jays offense we remember! Did they save all their runs for the pitcher they really don’t like? Derek Holland (he of rally-towel-butt-wiping fame) saw his ERA rise from 2.48 to 5.40 after the Blue Jays scored eleven runs off him in less than three innings. Three runs scored on four hits before the first out was even recorded. Every starting member of the Jays lineup, save for Justin Smoak, scored at least one run, and everyone but Jose Bautista had at least one hit – though he walked twice, scored twice and and drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. Basically, the bats were on fire.
The Jays had 15 hits in the game, only one of which was a home run (a 3-run Edwin Encarnacion shot in the 3rd), who says they can’t play small ball? Plus nobody struck out! That was exciting, considering the high strikeout rate the Jays have suffered so far this season. J.A. Happ pitched 7.0 excellent innings and allowed just one run on six hits and one walk, Chad Girodo made his second appearance this year and threw a scoreless frame, and Ryan Tepera struggled somewhat in the 9th but managed to only allow one run on three hits.
The offense may have been lacking for the first three games, but there were some spectacular defensive plays this series. From a beautiful Ryan Goins-Tulowitzki double play, to a Darwin Barney throw that got a runner out at the plate, to another Barney double play that ended an inning, and a Ryan Goins sliding stop* shortly after being inserted into Tuesday’s game in the 10th. Josh Donaldson made one of his trademark bare-handed plays, and Tulo accurately threw a ball as he was in the process of falling over. Wonderful defense all around.
*The video title says it’s Barney, but that’s definitely Goins
Weirdly Specific Record/Milestone Alert:
- Justin Smoak became the first-ever player in Blue Jays history to tie a game with a homer in the 9th, then walk it off on another home run in extra innings.
- Edwin Encarnacion is now tied with George Bell for fifth on the all-time Blue Jays home run list with 202
My favourite player(s) this series:
Remember back during the series against the White Sox when I said nobody on the active roster really deserved to be my favourite that series? SURPRISE, I’ve decided to do the opposite this time around. Here’s a quick reasoning for why certain members of the roster are deserving of praise:
Pillar – 7-for-15 at the plate (and a walk!), 4 doubles, 2 runs scored, 2 RBI, awesome defense. Has the most hits on the team.
Smoak – 7-for-16, 2 home runs, 4 RBI, responsible for walkoff #1
Martin – 5-for-12, 2 RBI, responsible for walkoff #2
Encarnacion – 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 8 RBI (6 on Thursday!), 4 walks. Starting to look like ‘Edwin in May’.
Estrada – 1 ER, 2 hits and 1 walk in 6 innings pitched
Happ – 1 ER, 1 walk in 7 innings pitched, only faced 27 batters
Biagini – Threw 2 scoreless innings in a high-pressure situation, gave a hilarious post-game interview
Everyone else – also contributed in some way, shape or form, if only to the post-walkoff celebrations.
Everyone made me smile at some point. Well done, everybody.
Where we are now:
3rd in the AL East, 3.0 games back of the Red Sox
The bad news is, the road doesn’t get much easier right away, as the L.A. Dodgers are in town and they’ve brought Clayton Kershaw. Another disappointment – the legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully won’t be announcing this weekend’s series.
The good news is, the Jays won a four-game series! At home! Two walkoffs and a blowout are quite the nice momentum to carry into a tough series. The unlikely spots in the order seem to be heating up. The rotation is still getting it done. Also, Dan Shulman will be announcing the series so at least if we don’t get Scully we still get to listen to him!
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