Series Sum-Up: A's vs. Blue Jays

 Toronto Blue Jays DH Kendrys Morales clubbed three home runs in his club's four-game sweep of the Oakland A's. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Toronto Blue Jays DH Kendrys Morales clubbed three home runs in his club's four-game sweep of the Oakland A's. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)

Canadian Baseball Network

Game 1: Monday, July 24
JAYS WIN!! 4-2
Winning Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Save: Roberto Osuna

Both teams scored a run in the 1st inning. Francisco Liriano walked the first two Oakland batters, then Rajai Davis was thrown out stealing third, before Ryon Healy singled to drive in Marcus Semien. Russell Martin hit a home run to tie it in the bottom half. Liriano settled in after the Healy single, retiring the next twelve consecutive batters. He was helped out by Ryan Goins, who made a catch sliding on his knees for the first out of the 4th.

The Blue Jays added to their lead in the 4th, when they loaded the bases on a Josh Donaldson double and a pair of walks. Ezequiel Carrera singled with one out, bringing in Donaldson, and Goins hit a two-out single to score Justin Smoak. Matt Chapman hit a solo homer in the 5th, to bring Oakland within a run.

Joe Biagini pitched two hitless innings (a walk was erased on a double play) and then the Blue Jays scored again in the 7th when Smoak walked with the bases loaded. Although they were loaded (on two walks and a single) with no outs, a further rally was prevented when Steve Pearce struck out and Troy Tulowitzki hit into a double play. Roberto Osuna earned the save with three strikeouts. Oakland was held to two hits – both home runs, both off Liriano. Liriano also walked two and struck out five over five innings. Toronto had eight hits and six walks.

Game 2: Tuesday, July 25
JAYS WIN!! 4-1
Winning Pitcher: Cesar Valdez
Save: Roberto Osuna

Cesar Valdez filled in in the rotation for the injured Aaron Sanchez. He pitched six innings, and allowed one run on five hits. On his first time through the order he allowed a hit and a walk, but got double plays to erase them both. Sonny Gray started for the Athletics, and after a perfect 1st with two strikeouts, Justin Smoak singled to lead off the 2nd. Gray made an error on a Kendrys Morales ground ball which allowed both runners to be safe – Smoak reached third base on the play.

Troy Tulowitzki plated Smoak with a groundout, and Ezequiel Carrera singled, then the runners advanced on a wild pitch. Back-to-back doubles by Ryan Goins and Jose Bautista scored three more runs before Russell Martin struck out to end the rally. Those four were their only runs of the game, as Gray only allowed one more hit in his six innings of work – he also struck out nine.

Oakland got on the board in the 4th when Valdez allowed a leadoff double, then another with one out. Matt Joyce scored, while Khris Davis got the RBI. After the 6th it was the battle of the bullpens, as both teams got a baserunner, then stranded them, each inning. Roberto Osuna collected his 26th save of the year after stranding a leadoff Yonder Alonso single. Both teams had six hits.

Game 3: Wednesday, July 26
JAYS WIN!! 3-2 (Walkoff!!)
Starting Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Winning Pitcher: Joe Biagini

Until the last possible moment, this game looked like it would have a different outcome. Marco Estrada loaded the bases on two walks and a single in the 1st inning, before getting a foul pop-out to strand them. He sent down the next seven batters, before Yonder Alonso doubled in the 4th. Alonso was stranded after a pair of full-count strikeouts. In the 5th, Matt Joyce walked and Marcus Semien homered to score the first runs of the game. Estrada went five innings total, with two runs allowed on three hits, four walks and four strikeouts.

Paul Blackburn pitched seven scoreless innings for the Athletics. He allowed just two hits, both doubles – to Jose Bautista leading off the 1st, and Josh Donaldson in the 6th. Three Blue Jays also walked and three struck out against Blackburn. They also hit into two double plays with him on the mound. The Toronto bullpen – Matt Dermody, Dominic Leone, Aaron Loup and Joe Biagini – combined for five strikeouts over four innings pitched. They only allowed one baserunner, when Biagini walked Matt Chapman with two outs in the 9th.

In the bottom of the 9th, the score was still 2-0 for Oakland. Santiago Casilla came in from the bullpen and Josh Donaldson led off with a walk. After falling behind 1-2 on two called strikes, Donaldson fouled off a fastball and Casilla threw three consecutive pitches that nearly hit him in the head.

The next batter, Justin Smoak, took advantage of Casilla’s loss of command and hit a low fastball to deep centre field for a home run that tied the game 2-2. After the pandemonium in the stadium died down, Kendrys Morales also hammered the first pitch of his at-bat to right centre field, walking off the game for the Blue Jays.

Game 4: Thursday, July 27 (Day game)
JAYS WIN!!! 8-4 (10 innings, walkoff!!)
Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Winning Pitcher: Roberto Osuna

Oakland took a three-run lead in the 1st inning after loading the bases on two walks and a single. Ryon Healy grounded out to score a run, and a Bruce Maxwell single plated two more. Toronto took one back in the bottom of the 1st when Josh Donaldson hit his tenth home run of the year. Marcus Stroman stranded a pair of walks in the 2nd, a single in the 3rd, and avoided giving up a run in a three-hit 4th because Russell Martin threw out a baserunner.

With two outs in the top of the 5th, John Gibbons was ejected from the game when he argued with home plate umpire Will Little over a ball call. After the next pitch, which walked the batter, Little ejected Stroman. Martin turned around to argue and Little immediately ejected him too. After the resulting fracas died down, Chris Smith took over on the mound with Miguel Montero behind the plate. Smith got a strikeout to end the inning. Stroman’s abbreviated start reached 4 2/3 innings with three runs allowed on six hits and six walks, as well as four strikeouts.

Kendrys Morales led off the bottom of the inning with a home run, making it 3-2 Oakland. Jose Bautista tied the game when he led off the 6th with a double and scored on a Justin Smoak single. They had a chance to take the lead in the 7th when Troy Tulowitzki doubled, but with two out Darwin Barney singled and Tulowitzki was thrown out at home plate. Oakland retook the lead in the 8th when Ryan Tepera gave up a single, a walk, and then an RBI single to Marcus Semien. Tepera also had two wild pitches in the inning.

For the second time in two days, Morales came to the rescue. He led off the 9th with a home run, tying the game. It went to extras when a one-out Tulowitzki walk was stranded. Roberto Osuna pitched a scoreless top of the 10th, and the Athletics brought in Liam Hendriks. Montero walked with one out, Smoak walked (on four pitches) with two out, and Morales walked after that. Steve Pearce had a full count, and was one away from a ‘shrimp’ or walkoff walk. Instead, he drove the ball down the left field line and into the stands for a walkoff grand slam.

Overall Notes:

Danny Barnes was put on the disabled list on Tuesday with something that was described as a ‘right shoulder impingement’. Matt Dermody was called up in his place.

Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

·         Wednesday was the first time in Blue Jays history that they’d hit game-tying and game-winning back-to-back home runs in the 9th

·         Wednesday and Thursday’s games also marked the first time in franchise history they’d walked off consecutive games with home runs.

My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Valdez/Morales

Cesar Valdez started the 2017 season playing for the Athletics. He started one game for them, and appeared in three in relief. Prior to that, his last major-league game was in 2010, when he made two starts and seven relief appearances with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hadn’t won a game since his start on May 3, 2010, which was his major-league debut. In getting his second win, seven years later, he lasted six innings, allowing just one earned run on just five hits, with one walk and four strikeouts.

Kendrys Morales hit three home runs in this series, and all of them were timely. His home run on Wednesday won the game in the 9th, and two on Thursday helped tie the game, one in the 5th inning and again in the 9th. The second one got the game to go to extras, and he then walked with two out in the 10th, loading the bases and setting the stage for Pearce’s heroics. The three home runs were his only hits – he was 3-for-10 with a walk over the three games he played.

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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!