Series Sum-Up: Blue Jays vs. Dodgers

By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)

Canadian Baseball Network

Game 1: Friday, May 6th
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Winning Pitcher: Gavin Floyd

In their first-ever look at Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda, the Blue Jays’ bats were confused. They struck out seven times and only had two hits through six innings, but also managed two runs – Jose Bautista homered in the sixth after a Josh Donaldson walk – to jump out ahead in a game that was scoreless until that point. In fact, their run total equaled their number of hits for the fourth time this year.

The game was tied until the eighth, when Edwin Encarnacion doubled and the Dodgers elected to intentionally walk Justin Smoak. With one out, Kevin Pillar got a chance to play the hero against the team he grew up watching. That chance? Superman took it.

Game 2: Saturday, May 7th
Jays lose, 2-6
Losing Pitcher: R.A. Dickey

Kershaw is gonna Kershaw, I guess. Given their poor performance against lesser pitchers early this year, I take it as a good sign that the Blue Jays lineup recorded eight hits and two runs off the Dodgers ace. Both starters went seven full innings and each only had two earned runs, but when Dickey left the game, the score was 4-2. One run scored on a passed ball by Josh Thole, and Justin Turner scored after reaching on a Darwin Barney error.

The Dodgers had two solo homers, a Joc Pederson one off Dickey in the second and one from Turner off Chad Girodo in the eighth. It was the first earned run Girodo had allowed in his career. The Dodgers’ sixth and final run came in the ninth, after Carl Crawford hit a sac fly that Kevin Pillar caught in this ridiculous manner:

Some surprise offense came from former Dodger Darwin Barney – he went 2-for-3 against Kershaw, with an RBI and a run scored. He and Ryan Goins have begun to platoon at second base, Barney will start against left-handed pitchers, Goins against righties.

Game 3: Sunday, May 8th
Jays lose, 2-4
Starting Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Losing Pitcher: Drew Storen

Poor, poor Marco Estrada. In spite of a seven-inning gem, where he no-hit the Dodgers for five innings (he didn’t even allow a base runner for the first three) and only allowed one run, the offense and bullpen let him down again. Drew Storen came in in the eighth with the Jays up 2-1, face two batters, and they both reached base (one on a walk, one on a ground-rule double). Roberto Osuna replaced him and, after a strikeout, intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases.

A sac fly and a single later, both inherited runners had scored and the Jays were suddenly down 3-2. The final nail in the coffin came in the ninth, an inning in which the Blue Jays used three different pitchers. The Dodgers had three hits, a force out, and a hit by pitch before Gavin Floyd struck out two to leave the bases loaded. Looking at that, it’s a wonder that only one run scored.

The two Blue Jay runs came on a Pillar double in the third (he was brought in by Ryan Goins) and a Smoak two-out single in the seventh, who was moved to third on a walk and a single, then scored on a fielding error. All told, they only had five hits and stranded an equal number of runners.

Overall Notes:

Brett Cecil has been placed on the paternal leave list after the birth of his daughter (congratulations, Cecil family!) and the Blue Jays haven’t announced his replacement on the roster yet, but they did option Ryan Tepera and bring up utility man Andy Burns! Burns still hasn’t made his major-league debut, but he was on the bench this weekend and would come in handy as a pinch-hitter in San Francisco this coming series.

Weirdly Specific Record Alert: 

With his seven-inning start on Friday, Marcus Stroman became the first pitcher in the 2016 MLB season to reach 50 IP

My favourite player(s) this series: Pillar/Estrada

Kevin Pillar is an electric player, and that was definitely on display in this series. From his amazing catch on Saturday which left rug burn under his eye, to his four hits (two doubles and a home run included), to his aggressive base running, he was a delight to watch in a series that was otherwise not great. He currently leads the team in hits (37) and doubles (11).

Marco Estrada pitched one of his typical gems, not allowing a baserunner until Chase Utley walked to lead off the fourth inning, then Justin Turner reached on an error. He stranded both, and shut the Dodgers down again in the fifth. His no-hitter was broken up in the 6th with a leadoff double, but that too was stranded.

He didn’t allow a run until Joc Pederson homered with two outs in the seventh. With just three hits and two walks, as well as eight strikeouts, he was in line to win until the bullpen struggled in the eighth. However, he definitely deserves some recognition for an amazing starting performance yet again. I really hope he gets his no-hitter someday.

Where we are now:
4th place, 3.5 games back of the Orioles

The bad news is, the offense may not have found itself quite yet. Also the next series is in San Francisco so there’s no DH and the pitchers will have to hit, only adding to their woes.

The good news is, the lower parts of the lineup (Pillar, Smoak and even Barney) have been putting together some quality at-bats, so if everyone can get going at the same time, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. The second part of their road trip will have them facing the Rangers again, a team from whom they took three of four in their last meeting, so hopefully they’ll have that type of luck the second time around.