Series Sum-Up: at New York Yankees, July 3-5

Game 1: Monday, July 3
Jays lose, 3-6
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman


Marcus Stroman put himself in a tough situation early, but the bullpen was really responsible for the final score. In the 1st inning, Stroman loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk, then he hit Chase Headley with a pitch to bring in a run and walked Jacoby Ellsbury to bring in another. He got a double play to end the inning, and sent down the next six batters before allowing a pair of singles to start off the 4th, which he then stranded. Meanwhile the Jays got one baserunner in each of the first four innings against Masahiro Tanaka, but nothing came of it.


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There was a minor moment of concern in the 5th when Stroman called the training staff out to the mound to look at something on his hand. He finished the inning with a strikeout, then was replaced with Aaron Loup for the 6th. Stroman’s final line was 5.0 innings with 2 earned runs on five hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. He’d thrown 79 pitches, of which 49 were strikes. The Blue Jays got on the board in the 7th after Ezequiel Carrera was hit with a pitch, then stole second and advanced to third because Gary Sanchez airmailed the second baseman – Brett Gardner retrieved the ball and threw it over the third baseman’s head and Carrera was safe. Darwin Barney drove him in with a bloop single to left.


Josh Donaldson took a one-out walk against Dellin Betances in the 8th, but was thrown out stealing as Justin Smoak struck out, quashing that potential for a rally. After Loup and Danny Barnes each pitched a clean inning, Ryan Tepera took over in the 8th with the score still 2-1 for New York. Tepera started off with an single, a double, a Didi Gregorius walk, and a 2-run Headley double. He got a strikeout before allowing another pair of runs when he fielded a Ronald Torreyes grounder, threw it to home, and Luke Maile dropped it. Not only was Gregorius safe, but Headley also scored before Maile could retrieve the ball. Maile was charged with a missed catch error on the play. Mike Bolsinger replaced Tepera and got a double play to end the inning.


In the 9th, the Blue Jays scored two runs on Aroldis Chapman thanks to a Kendrys Morales leadoff double, a pinch-hit double from Kevin Pillar, and a Barney single. Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin hadn’t started the game, but both pinch hit and got out. Both teams finished the night with eight hits.


Game 2: Tuesday, July 4 (day game)
JAYS WIN!!! 4-1
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Save: Roberto Osuna


Yankee starter C.C. Sabathia was making his return from a DL stint, and didn’t allow a baserunner until there were two outs in the 3rd, when he walked Darwin Barney. Barney then reached second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Jose Bautista single. Russell Martin followed with a single of his own, then a walk to Josh Donaldson loaded the bases and a Justin Smoak walk forced a run home. Kendrys Morales plated a pair with a single, and just like that Sabathia was out of the game.



On the other side of things, J.A. Happ allowed a single in the 1st, then shut down seven straight until that streak was broken by an Aaron Judge home run to lead off the 4th. Happ carried on, stranding a single in that inning and another single and a walk in the next. He also stranded a 6th-inning leadoff walk to Gary Sanchez by striking out the next three. That was the end of his day, with one run allowed on four hits and two walks, and six strikeouts to go with it.


The Jays got five hits in 4.2 innings against reliever Luis Cessa, but nothing came of them. Dominic Leone and Jeff Beliveau combined to strand a leadoff walk in the 7th, and Ryan Tepera bounced back from his poor outing the night before, throwing a hitless inning with a pair of strikeouts. Then Roberto Osuna collected his nineteenth consecutive save, along with two strikeouts.


Game 3: Wednesday, July 5 (day game)
JAYS WIN!!! 7-6
Starting Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Winning Pitcher: Danny Barnes
Save: Roberto Osuna


This was a close battle to the end, although the Blue Jays at one point had a 5-run lead. Things started off when a Justin Smoak single in the 1st caused Jacoby Ellsbury to make a fielding error, and that led to Jose Bautista scoring. Bautista had led off the game with a single. Steve Pearce did the same the following inning, but Miguel Montero grounded into a double play in his first at-bat with his new team. Bautista walked to start off the 3rd, Russell Martin hit into a forceout, and Justin Smoak scored Martin with his 23rd home run of the year. Kendrys Morales followed that up with his 16th home run of the season, making it 4-nothing Blue Jays.



In the 4th, Kevin Pillar hit another home run and Michael Pineda exited the game. While all that scoring was going on, Marco Estrada had yet to allow a hit. In the 4th, he walked Brett Gardner, and Aaron Judge homered for the second time in two days. Estrada set down the next three batters, but the wheels fell off him in the 5th when Ji-Man Choi hit a two-run homer, then Estrada loaded the bases on two walks and a single. After a two-run double to Didi Gregorius, his night was also over. He left the game on the losing side of a 6-5 Yankee lead, with six runs allowed on five hits and four walks.


Martin (who was playing third base) led off the 7th with a game-tying home run. Joe Girardi brought in Dellin Betances, hoping to preserve the deadlock. But Betances started off the 8th by walking three batters and, after striking out Bautista (aided by a few generous calls), brought in the game-winning run by walking Martin as well. After Aaron Loup gave up two walks (one intentional), Danny Barnes came in to get two outs. Barnes pitched the 8th as well. Roberto Osuna got his 20th save of the year after he gave up a two-out single and then struck out Judge. Montero punctuated the moment with an enthusiastic fist-pump.



Overall Notes:

The Blue Jays acquired Miguel Montero from the Chicago Cubs prior to this series. The team placed Luke Maile on the disabled list with knee inflammation on Tuesday. Speculation arose that Maile was put on the DL without a real injury, just to allow for the activation of Montero (although Maile does have options and therefore could be sent to the minors with no issue). However, news broke Wednesday that the 26-year-old had an MRI which revealed a torn meniscus.



Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

  • Jose Bautista had his 900th career RBI on Tuesday
  • With his 20th consecutive save, Roberto Osuna has the 5th-longest such streak in Blue Jays history. It’s also the longest active streak in the majors.


My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Happ/Martin/Bautista/Barnes

J.A. Happ went 6 innings in one of his most solid outings of the year. As previously mentioned, he allowed one baserunner in the first 3 innings before the Judge home run, but held the Yankees to that one run to help snap a 5-game losing streak. He lowered his season ERA to 3.47 with that performance.


Russell Martin may have inexplicably been wearing stars-and-stripes socks for July 4th, but the bearded Canadian was instrumental in winning this series. It was his bat which tied Wednesday’s game, and his plate discipline took back the lead. He was 3-for-10 including his pinch-hit appearance on Monday, walked once, drive in two and also played third base to give Josh Donaldson a day off.


Jose Bautista was the most productive hitter this series. He had five hits in eleven at-bats, including three in Game 2. He scored once per game, drove in one, and walked three times.

Danny Barnes made two appearances in this series, for a combined total of 2.2 innings. He allowed one baserunner (a walk on Monday) and struck out five. Most importantly, he handled a delicate situation in Game 3 – two on and one out – to preserve a one-run lead.


Where We Are Now:
Last place in the AL East, 9.5 games back of Boston

The bad news is, the end of Marco Estrada’s struggles seems to be nowhere in sight. It’s disappointing to watch him start off a game so strong and then run into problems again. In addition, Marcus Stroman said after his start that he was developing a blister (a problem he’d never encountered before). He called it ‘an epidemic’ across the league this season.


The good news is, the Jays just won their first series since June 11th. The bats are starting to heat up again. Stroman is also hopeful that he’ll make his next start, so that shouldn’t be a long-term concern yet. Plus Aaron Sanchez will be back from a blister of his own by the weekend!


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