Series Sum-Up: Blue Jays vs. Yankees

By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)

Canadian Baseball Network

Game 1: Monday, May 30th

Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Save: Drew Storen

Looking at the score, you wouldn’t know how incredibly dominant Marco Estrada was in this start. He pitched eight scoreless innings, allowed three hits and as many walks, and struck out six. Both Yankee runs came off Aaron Loup in the ninth, after he hit a batter and then Brian McCann homered to cut the Blue Jays’ lead in half.

Of the four runs scored by the Blue Jays, two came from the bottom of the order, as number nine hitter Ryan Goins had a lead-off double in the third and scored, then followed that up with a lead-off homer in the fifth. Edwin Encarnacion had two RBI, and Michael Saunders another, as each of them also doubled.

Game 2: Tuesday, May 31st JAYS WIN! 4-1
Starting Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Winning Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Save: Roberto Osuna

This was a game that had a little of everything. Starting pitching? Happ gave up one run on four hits and two walks in 6.0 innings. Relief pitching? Joe Biagini, Jesse Chavez and Roberto Osuna each threw a scoreless inning, with two hits and no walks between them.

Offence? Seven Blue Jay hits, and well-sequenced ones. Defense? Darwin Barney made an amazing slide to catch a foul ball, and Kevin Pillar did, well, this:

Here’s a thought exercise for you – if you had to rank the Blue Jays lineup, in order of how likely they would be to get a hit off of Yankee reliever Dellin Betances, who would be at the bottom? Darwin Barney? Maybe Kevin Pillar? Well, try again, because those would be the people who not only got hits off Betances, but drove in important runs.

When Pillar stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning, the game was tied at 1-1 due to a Yankee run in the second and a Justin Smoak homer in the fourth. Edwin Encarnacion was standing on second base, after he’d led off the inning with a double and chased C.C. Sabathia from the game. Devon Travis was on first, having walked.

There were two outs. Pillar drilled a single to right that scored a charging Encarnacion, and bumped Travis to third. Pillar then stole second, and Barney brought home both runners with abouncing single to right field. Yes, Barney was then caught out in a rundown between first and second, but it didn’t matter. The damage had been done. Betances had given up his first two earned runs in13 appearances.

Game 3: Wednesday, June 1st

Winning Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez

Aaron Sanchez wasn’t quite as shut-down as he’s capable of being, as the Yankees stranded two runners four different times. But for 6.2 innings, he did shut them out. The combined efforts of Jason Grilli, Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera finished the job, and the bats ensured Sanchez would get the win. The Yankees had seven hits and two walks, all off Sanchez. Josh Donaldson had a bit of a defensive hiccup in the second, but still miraculously managed to make the play.

In spite of five stranded Blue Jays runners, there was no score through four and a half innings. Then Darwin Barney led off the bottom of the 5th with a single (his second of three on the night, he also walked) and was driven in by Josh Donaldson. The Jays scored one more in the 6th, but the dams truly burst in the 7th when it seemed like everyone got on base. Well, okay, only 6 of the 9 batters that inning reached, but three singles, two walks and a double led to five runs scoring before even the second out. Kevin Pillar also stole a base, his team-leading 6th of the year, and his second in as many games.

Overall Notes:

Apparently the Yankees broadcast on Tuesday showed this moment from the previous Yankee-Blue Jays series, after Jesse Chavez gave up two runs on May 24th. He was obviously upset, possibly crying, and Russell Martin was consoling him. Aside from illustrating what a great teammate Martin is, after seeing this I’m glad that Chavez was able to do well against the Yanks this time out. He threw a perfect inning, with one strikeout.

A few roster moves were made this week, as Jimmy Paredes was traded to the Phillies for cash (Paredes had been DFA in order to call up Ryan Tepera earlier in the week). Paredes had appeared in seven games with four hits, including a home run, in that span.

The team also acquired veteran reliever – and former Russell Martin batterymate – Jason Grilli from the Atlanta Braves. Chad Girodo was optioned to Buffalo to make room for Grilli’s arrival. Grilli seemed very excited to be in Toronto, as he noted he’d cheered for the team as a kid.

Grilli’s first relief appearance started off on an awkward note, as he entered the seventh inning of Game 3 with two outs and runners on first and second. He made a pickoff attempt before even throwing a pitch, but sent the ball into center field instead, allowing the runner to advance to third. Thankfully, Carlos Beltran popped out, so the error didn’t end up costing the Jays.

Oddly Specific Record Alert:

Marco Estrada became the second pitcher in Blue Jays history to record a win in two consecutive starts against the Yankees within five days. (The other was Dave Stieb)
Jason Grilli is the first-ever Blue Jays pitcher to commit an error prior to throwing his first pitch.

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

As I already noted, Estrada’s excellent outing on Monday included eight shutout innings, just three hits, three walks, and six strikeouts. But he faced only four batters over the minimum (28), due to some double plays. He needed just 108 pitches to get his 24 outs. His ERA is now 2.34, the lowest of the Blue Jays’ starters by far.

Does anyone else remember in Spring Training when Darwin Barney seemed to be hitting anything and everything? We all knew that was going to stop eventually, but… it has yet to do so. He went 5-for-9 in this series, with a walk, two runs scored, and two driven in. That almost makes his typically excellent defense seem like a bonus.

Where we are now:
3rd place, 3.5 games back of the Red Sox (and 2.5 GB of the Orioles, following Thursday’s off day)

The bad news is – I’m sorry, were you looking for bad news?! They just SWEPT THE YANKEES. Is it worrisome that the Red Sox, their next opponent, are looking hotter than ever? Maybe, but the Jays also just came off a series where they beat those same Red Sox.

 The good news is, THEY JUST SWEPT THE YANKEES! This is their fourth consecutive series win, and the next part of the schedule seems a great opportunity to make up ground in the standings, with a series against Boston this weekend and four home games against Baltimore the weekend after that. Sandwiched in between are the Tigers, who are fourth in their division. The Jays are at a season-high of three games over .500, and are 7-1 since the return of Devon Travis (which is totally just a coincidence… Or is it?)