By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)
Canadian Baseball Network
Game 1: Friday, April 15th
Jays lose, 3-5
Losing Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
Happy Jackie Robinson Day! Kevin Pillar celebrated the one-year anniversary of his amazing 'Spidey' catch by being hit by a pitch, and then rung up on what should have been ball four after a 10-pitch at-bat. He didn't take too kindly to it.
Edwin Encarnacion drove in literally all the runs, and had the only three hits for the Blue Jays (his first two home runs of the season, plus a single in the ninth). It looked like they were staging a rally in the ninth, with two on and two out, but then Justin Smoak struck out, taking a golden sombrero (four strikeouts) for the night.
Despite being frustrating, the game also had its remarkable moments, as David Ortiz recorded his 16th-ever stolen base, Joe Biagini threw two scoreless innings, and also this happened:
Game 2: Saturday, April 16th
Jays lose, 2-4
Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada
In his second start of the season, Marco Estrada really only had a rough time in the third inning, but that one rough inning was all it took. The Red Sox scored all of their runs in that inning, after two batters reached on somewhat flukey infield hits (one bounced off Estrada's leg) and then Xander Bogaerts hit a home run to bring them in. Three batters later, two consecutive doubles allowed Hanley Ramirez to score.
David Price was, well, David Price-like. That didn't stop the Jays from getting six hits off of him (including Josh Donaldson's first triple of the season, and Russell Martin breaking an 0-for-12 hitless streak!), but he was definitely helped along by a generous strike zone. Nobody walked all game, and 12 Jays struck out. Jose Bautista in particular was the victim of a full-count should-have-been walk in the 9th. I was surprised but glad that he managed to keep his cool.
Game 3: Sunday, April 17th
JAYS WIN! 5-3
Winning Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Sometimes change brings good luck - the Jays snapped a losing streak after they rearranged the batting order. Michael Saunders is now leading off, with Kevin Pillar in the 8-spot. Pillar settled right in, going 3-for-4 and making two more nice catches in center. Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit, combining for 14 total, which is a season high! Jose Bautista started it all with a two-out home run in the first inning, which was followed by three consecutive singles, giving the Jays a 2-0 lead they never surrendered.
Two Jays batters were also hit by pitch, including one in the helmet of Chris Colabello. It knocked Colabello over, and was definitely terrifying to watch, but he stayed in the game. To pitcher Steven Wright's credit, he went over and spoke to Colabello, and apparently sent him a gift as an apology the next day.
Sanchez was spectacular in his third start, as he took a no-hitter two outs into the fifth, and only allowed one run and two hits in seven innings. The second and third Red Sox runs came on a single and a Travis Shaw home run off Roberto Osuna in the ninth.
Game 4: Monday, April 18th (Morning game)
JAYS WIN! 4-3
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Save: Drew Storen
An early-morning Patriots' Day game was beginning to look like a lost cause for the Jays. They had a runner reach base every inning, but they were erased five times by a double play. J.A. Happ only allowed one run, in the second, and faced the minimum for the other six innings he pitched, but the Jays were down 1-0. That is, until Kevin Pillar led off the eighth inning with a single, then advanced to second on a high throw.
Pillar moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a Saunders ground out, tying the game. That set off a four-run rally that the Boston bullpen couldn't have seen coming. After Pillar's hit, walking Smoak, hitting Donaldson with a pitch, and walking Bautista to load the bases, Koji Uehara was pulled after only retiring one of the five batters he faced. Craig Kimbrel was brought in, struck out EE, then allowed the first bases-loaded walk of his career to Troy Tulowitzki. Russell Martin then hit a 2-RBI single, meaning the Canadian Jays drove in the tying and eventual winning runs!
After the rally, Brett Cecil threw a perfect inning, then Drew Storen was brought in to close. That went less smoothly, as he gave up two runs on three hits, and David Ortiz was brought in to pinch-hit, representing the winning run. But Storen struck him out, earning his first save as a Blue Jay, and giving every fan watching a huge sigh of relief.
Game 1 was decidedly unpleasant (having three runs score in the first and three passed balls is no fun) but it rewarded us with some laughs, like this one:
It's going to be real fun having Pat Venditte on this team, isn't it?
They also broke their pattern of losing if they can't score after the fourth... by scoring in the seventh and still losing. But their Game 3 and 4 wins both involved some late-scored runs!
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
Kevin Pillar led the league in consecutive plate appearances to start the season without a walk, with 55.
Jose Bautista tied an unfortunate franchise record by grounding into 3 double plays in the same game on Monday. Joe Carter and Alex Rios were the two Jays to do it previously. Only one player in history has ever grounded into 4 DPs in a game.
My favourite player(s) this series: Encarnacion/Pillar*
While much of the offense seems to still be asleep, Edwin has apparently decided to just do everything himself. With two home runs three RBI on Friday, he added another three hits, two RBI, and a run scored over the rest of the weekend. This established he was getting properly settled in at the plate.
*Batting-8th-Pillar. He wasn't at his best for the beginning of the season, but since getting bumped to 8th in the lineup, he went 6-for-7 and also had a walk (his first of the season!!) over two games. Over those games, he's also had his usual defensive prowess on display. He might not be happy about batting later in the lineup, but I hope he's more comfortable and therefore there to stay!
Where we are now:
Tied for 2nd in the AL East, 2.5 games back of Baltimore
The bad news is, Baltimore is next on the schedule, so that gap will be either widened or closed significantly.
The good news is, the bats seem to have woken up over the course of this series, and in spite of a few rough innings, the pitching is looking good as well. Something else that should excite fans - as reported this weekend by Shi Davidi - injured second baseman Devon Travis is progressing nicely in his recovery! There's still no timeline for his return, but any news of improvement is definitely a cheerful one!