Series Sum-Up: vs Tampa Bay, May 16th-18th

By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)

Canadian Baseball Network

Game 1: Monday, May 16th
Jays lose, 2-13
Losing Pitcher: J.A. Happ

Everyone knew Happ was going to have a bad start eventually, but MAN this was brutal. He only went two innings, gave up two runs in the 1st on a homer, three in the second on a sac fly and another home run, and was removed from the game with no outs in the third because he’d given up yet another run and left two on base. 

Dustin Antolin replaced him, making his first big-league appearance, and it didn’t go so smoothly. Antolin gave up a homer to Curt Casali, the second batter he faced, which allowed both inherited runners to score and tagged Happ with seven earned runs in total. The bleeding didn’t stop there, as the Rays had two more runs off Antolin in the fourth, then one more in each of the eighth and ninth.

To add insult to injury, Drew Smyly was also no-hitting the Blue Jays during those first three miserable innings. Justin Smoak led off the fourth with a single, and in that same inning John Gibbons was ejected from his second consecutive game while arguing balls and strikes on Troy Tulowitzki‘s behalf. They finally scored in the fifth, and again in the eighth, but that was it. They had eight hits (Darwin Barney had two!) and four walks, while the Rays had seventeen and three, respectively.

Game 2: Tuesday, May 17th
Jays lose, 2-12
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman

The one thing that can be said about this game is that the Jays had the lead at one point. It only lasted half an inning, but it was a lead nonetheless. Marcus Stroman recorded his first loss in 17 appearances, and it wasn’t pretty.

One of the most infuriating things was how many of the Rays’ runs scored with two outs in the given inning – one in the first, two in the second, three in the seventh, and two in the ninth. Josh Donaldson committed two consecutive errors in the seventh, and both of those runners scored. The first ten Rays runs were scored without any home runs. Then in the ninth, rookie Taylor Motter had his first career home run, which also scored Kevin Kiermaier(who had led off the inning with a walk). That brought the Ray’s score to 12, and their win margin to double-digits for the second night in a row.

Both of the Blue Jays’ runs were scored on a deep Jose Bautista homer in the bottom of the first. But the Rays tied it in the second, added two more runs in that frame for good measure, and took off from there. The Blue Jays had just four hits and three walks off Chris Archer, who lasted six innings. Brand-new Blue Jay Jimmy Paredes had his first hit for his new team, a pinch-hit single in the eighth, which was the only other base runner they got.

Game 3: Wednesday, May 18th
Jays lose, 3-6
Losing Pitcher: R.A. Dickey

The narrative that the Blue Jays live and die by the home run came back to bite them big-time in this game. They only had two hits off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, both solo homers (by Paredes and Encarnacion). Two more hits in the eighth – a loud Michael Saunders solo homer and a Justin Smoak double – looked like the beginning of a two-out rally, but nothing more came of it.

Even though the Blue Jays took four walks, including two back-to-back to lead off the fourth, and an intentional walk to Bautista with Goins already on base in the third, they couldn’t bring those runners in either. They stranded five. Nobody had a good time, especially Tulo, who could be heard yelling ‘NO!’ after he was called out on an extremely low third ‘strike’.

The Rays hit three home runs, including a pair back-to-back off the bats of Morrison and Desmond Jennings in the fourth, and a Kevin Kiermaier two-run shot in the sixth. Dickey had one unearned run score as well, on a Paredes error in the fifth. The final run of the game came on a wild pitch in the ninth – Tim Beckham was at second, but managed to score when Josh Thole couldn’t locate the ball.

Overall Notes:

Uhhh… Where the heck did the bats go?? Did they kidnap the pitching as well, and run away together? In all three games combined, they scored just one run more than the Rays scored in their lowest-scoring game of the series (7-6). Altogether they were outscored 31-7.

The run coming in all the way from second on the wild pitch prompted myself and other Twitter users to come up with the acronym AARTSS to describe such events – it stands for Allowing A Runner To Score Stupidly. Tell your friends.

My favourite player(s) this series: Paredes/Biagini

This series was brutal, with every aspect of the game lacking, but here are some small bright spots I found among all the drudgery:

Jimmy Paredes was picked up on waivers from the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, and made his first appearance as a Blue Jay pinch-hitting on Tuesday. He hit a single. Then on Wednesday he started at third so that Donaldson could have an off day, and he hit his first home run of the year. He also made a nice quick-thinking play to save a run when a ball deflected off Gavin Floyd. Welcome to the Blue Jays, Jimmy!

Joe Biagini pitched three innings total in this series – two on Monday and one Wednesday – and allowed not a single base runner in any of them. The Rule V pick has been a surprisingly nice addition to the bullpen, and has the lowest ERA among relievers, with 0.63 (I’m not counting Franklin Morales‘ 0.00 because he has faced literally two batters).

Where we are now:
4th place, 6.5 games back of the Orioles

The bad news is, Brett Cecil has a torn lat muscle and will be out for about a month. This only serves to add to the bullpen’s struggles.

The good news is, they’re off to play four games against the team with the worst record in the AL (the Minnesota Twins), followed by three against the worst team in the AL East (the Yankees). If they can’t win a few games in there, well… I don’t know what to tell you.

Plus Devon Travis has moved up to AAA Buffalo on his rehab, so he’s progressing well and will be back in the big leagues in no time!