Series Sum-Up: Blue Jays vs. Rangers

 Right-hander Marco Estrada picked up the win in the first game of the Toronto Blue Jays' three-game series against the Texas Rangers over the weekend. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Right-hander Marco Estrada picked up the win in the first game of the Toronto Blue Jays' three-game series against the Texas Rangers over the weekend. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Emily @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays from Away

Game 1: Friday, April 6
JAYS WIN!!! 8-5
Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Save: Roberto Osuna

You might be excused for being surprised that this game, in which the Jays once held an 8-0 lead, involved a save situation. Toronto stranded the bases loaded on two walks and a hit batter in the first inning, but kept hammering at Texas starter Matt Moore until he allowed three runs on three hits and a walk in the third. Russell Martin first broke things open with a two-run bases-loaded single, then Kendrys Morales brought in another with a sac fly. Moore left the game after a Devon Travis double, a four-pitch walk to Steve Pearce, and an RBI single to Josh Donaldson. A sac fly and another single made the score 6-0 before the inning ended, with the bases left loaded.

Marco Estrada allowed just two baserunners through the first five innings, both on singles. In the sixth, the Jays’ lead grew yet again, when Yangervis Solarte and Martin hit back-to-back home runs – the first time Jays hitters did so this season. Then the Rangers got on the board, with a solo homer from Shin-Soo Choo. Estrada gave up two more singles and a walk, but got out of the jam without allowing another run.

Enter the bullpen. While the Jays got just one base hit in the final three innings, Aaron Loup gave up three hits in 1/3 of an inning, including a leadoff double to Rougned Odor. All three of his runners would score, as Seung Hwan Oh pitched the remainder of that inning, and allowed another run on two hits. Ryan Tepera pitched the eighth and he, too, gave up a hit to Odor, but Odor was then doubled off easily when he neglected to tag up on a fly ball to right. Roberto Osuna got a double play to erase one of two singles he allowed in an inning of work.

Game 2: Saturday, April 7 (Night game)
Jays lose, 1-5
Losing Pitcher: Marcus Stroman

The Blue Jays only had two hits, both against Rangers starter Mike Minor. One, a Steve Pearce home run in the sixth, brought in their only run of the game; the other, a Kevin Pillar triple with one out in the fifth, was stranded at third. They took three walks, including a pair in the first, but two of them were erased on double plays.

The temperature was near-freezing in Arlington, and many blamed that for Marcus Stroman’s seeming lack of command. He walked the first two batters in the second on eight straight balls, then a sac bunt and a sac fly scored one of them. In the third, he allowed a pair of singles, but Devon Travis started a great double play to end the inning. The first two reached, on a walk and a single in the fourth, but he stranded them.

Then Stroman’s luck ran out, as he walked the first two batters in the fifth, they advanced on a balk, and both scored on a Joey Gallo double. Gallo, in turn, scored on a double from Jurickson Profar, and Stroman’s night was over. Danny Barnes was brought in, but even he couldn’t escape without Profar scoring on a single, and another single that was ruled a trap play on the left fielder Pearce. That was all the damage needed, even though Barnes set down three straight in the sixth, and Tyler Clippard and John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) followed suit in the next two innings. Stroman only recorded three strikeouts, and allowed six hits and five walks in his 4 2/3-inning start.

Game 3: Sunday, April 8
JAYS WIN!!! 7-4
Winning Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Save: Roberto Osuna

This game followed the same script as Friday’s – take a big early lead, then hold on for dear life. Steve Pearce got things started, hitting a home run on the first pitch of the ballgame. After one out, Justin Smoak and Yangervis Solarte both singled, and Kendrys Morales connected for his first homer of the year, bringing the lead to 4-0 against Cole Hamels. In the bottom of the 1st, the Rangers got one back off Jaime Garcia, with a Shin-Soo Choo leadoff double, a Rougned Odor sac bunt, and an RBI single. Garcia settled in after stranding a pair in the 2nd, retiring nine of his next ten batters faced.

Toronto padded their lead in the third, after loading the bases with two singles and a walk, when Kevin Pillar hit a ball that deflected off Hamels’ foot. A run scored on the play, before a double play ended the inning. Their bats were quiet until the sixth, which Pillar led off by reaching on an error, advancing on a balk, and scoring on a Luke Maile double. Hamels was then lifted from the game, but Maile still scored on a pinch-hit single from Curtis Granderson. It was 7-1 Jays at that point, but not for long.

Garcia gave up a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth, because Pillar broke in the wrong direction on the ball in the air. That was followed by a two-run homer to Joey Gallo, after which Garcia left the game. In the seventh, Aaron Loup allowed a single and a double, and Ryan Tepera walked one, but got a strikeout and a high pop-out to the catcher to strand the bases loaded. Tepera then walked one and struck out another in the eighth. Seung Hwan Oh gave up two singles, bringing in a run, and got another out before Roberto Osuna had to be brought in. Osuna then hit Odor’s jersey with a pitch to load the bases. Thankfully, he got a ground out, and went on to pitch a four-out save.

Overall Notes:

After 15 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team were killed in a bus crash in Saskatchewan on Friday, both teams paid their respects. Marcus Stroman wrote ‘Humbolt Broncos’ on one side of his hat, with ‘SK’ on the other, for his start Saturday night. The Rangers held a moment of silence pre-game, before the national anthems. Postgame, the Blue Jays put Stroman’s hat up for auction, with the proceeds going to a fund for the Humboldt team and their families.

Former catcher Josh Thole is in the radio booth with Ben Wagner for this road trip. I managed to catch a few innings of their broadcast of Sunday’s game, and really enjoyed it. He had many complimentary things to say about his former teammates, and made a few jokes at his own expense!

A fun fact that Thole and Wagner discussed about Sunday’s game was this – the Blue Jays are one of only two teams that Cole Hamels has never recorded a win against. He has made four starts against them in his career, as well as three in the postseason. The other team is the Phillies, where he played for 9 1⁄2 years – and he’s never faced them.

Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

- Marcus Stroman’s start on Saturday set a new career low in strike percentage – he threw just 46% of his 95 pitches for strikes.

- Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher in history to record 99 career saves on Sunday, three years to the day after his MLB debut.

My Favourite Player This Series: Solarte/Estrada

Yangervis Solarte was remarkable this weekend – in twelve trips to the plate, he only failed to reach base three times. Here’s how his series went:

Game 1 - Three consecutive walks, home run, groundout.
Game 2 – Double play, groundout, walk.
Game 3 – First-pitch single, four-pitch walk, walk, single.

All told, he batted .500 with a .750 on-base percentage, scored three runs and drove in one.

Marco Estrada was in fine form through the first five innings of his start, and even though he bent in the sixth, he did not break, allowing just one run and leaving the bases full of Rangers. His final line was six innings pitched, five hits, one earned run, one walk, and seven strikeouts. He also did something atypical of an Estrada start, getting more outs on the ground (five) than in the air (three).

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Emily

Emily is a Communications student who grew up with a Roy Halladay poster on the back of her door. A baseball history nerd, she played softball for nine years and changes her favourite Blue Jay on a regular basis. She fondly remembers going to her first Jays game at age six with her father, and spending the whole time staring at the elevators going up the CN Tower.