Series Sum-Up: Blue Jays vs. Rays
By Emily @JaysGirlEmily
Blue Jays from Away
The Blue Jays got swept, on the road, against a division rival one series after sweeping a different division rival. Coupled with the location of said sweep (the much-maligned Tropicana Field) and you have one heck of a disheartening series.
Game 1: Monday, June 11
Jays lose, 4-8
Losing Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio
The two teams were evenly matched until the bottom of the fourth. Kendrys Morales cashed in a Yangervis Solarte double in the first, but was then thrown out trying to stretch a double of his own for the third out of the inning. In the bottom of that inning, Sam Gaviglio loaded the bases with a single, a double and a hit batter. Joey Wendle hit a sac fly for the second out, scoring a run, and Gaviglio re-loaded the bases with a walk before getting the final out. Neither team got a baserunner in the second.
Teoscar Hernandez then hit a two-run homer in the third, giving the Jays a 3-1 lead. In the bottom of the third, a leadoff walk and three two-out singles scored another pair of runs for the Rays. Toronto countered with three hits in the fourth, but the Rays got on top with a Jake Bauers hit a two-run homer to give them their first lead. It was a lead they would not relinquish, with the Jays only getting one single and two walks from that point on. The Rays only out-hit them by one (nine to Toronto’s eight).
Gaviglio left the game after Bauers’ homer, then Danny Barnes threw 1 2/3 perfect innings with three strikeouts. John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) needed just four pitches to retire the side in the sixth, but experienced a reversal of fortune when he faced four hitters and couldn’t get an out in the seventh. Bauers led off with a walk, then advanced on a Wilson Ramos single. Axford then hit C.J. Cron (the second time Cron had been hit) to load the bases. Joey Wendle hit a short grounder back to the mound which Axford fielded, and tried to throw home for the force out. But his throw was well up the third base line, and two runs scored while Luke Maile retrieved the ball. Another run scored on a sac fly before Seung-Hwan Oh got out of the inning. Preston Guilmet made his Blue Jays debut and pitched a clean 8th.
Game 2: Tuesday, June 12
Jays lose, 4-1
Losing Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Neither team had much luck the first time through the order. It wasn’t until their ninth batter of the game that Toronto got a man on base (Devon Travis singled in the third). Meanwhile, the Rays had three men aboard in that span (a single and two walks) but two were stranded and one was forced out. Matt Duffy, who had reached on the forceout, scored on a Wilson Ramos home run in the third.
The Blue Jays had stranded a pair of their own in the third, but cut the lead in half in the fifth thanks to two singles and an RBI ground out by Travis. They would then strand another pair. Jaime Garcia faced two hitters in the sixth inning, one of whom walked and the other doubled, before being removed. He had allowed four hits, four walks, and gotten four strikeouts over five-plus innings. Joe Biagini allowed two singles, which would allow the inherited runners to score, bringing Garcia’s earned run total to four.
The Blue Jays only had five hits all game, with their 2-, 3-, and 4-hitters all held hitless. However, the cleanup hitter Justin Smoak did work a walk, one of two for Toronto’s lineup (pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales had the other). They faced a total of six Tampa pitchers. But that was by design, as the Rays have been experimenting with having relievers start their games, and then using their ‘starting pitchers’ as long relievers depending on the game’s situation. Four of Toronto’s hits came off Austin Pruitt, who had the longest outing for Tampa, at 2 2/3 innings. He threw the third and fourth, as well as the first two outs of the fifth. Tyler Clippard was the third and final pitcher for the Blue Jays. He pitched two innings facing the minimum, with a double play erasing a hit in the eighth.
Game 3: Wednesday, June 13 (Day game)
Jays lose, 0-1 (walkoff)
Starting Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Losing Pitcher: Ryan Tepera
Curtis Granderson went 3-for-4 and was the only Blue Jay to get a hit before the fifth. That was probably the lone bright spot for the Jays, as the rest of the team combined went 2-for-27 (though they did manage four walks). It didn’t look so bad the first two times time through the order, as they had a pair of batters reach in the first, second, fourth, and fifth. The leadoff man reached in the first three innings straight, as well as the 5th. But they hit into two double plays, and stranded eight runners over the course of the game.
J.A. Happ lasted four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, but he walked three, and had a high pitch count, including a 10-pitch at-bat in the first where Jake Bauers eventually reached on a Happ fielding error. He struck out four and stranded a pair of runners in the fourth and fifth innings. Seunghwan Oh pitched around a hit batter in the sixth.
In the seventh, Mallex Smith doubled on a slow roller down the third-base line. Danny Barnes stranded him, and then Justin Smoak was robbed of a base hit by a diving second baseman in shallow right field. Barnes stranded him, then Aaron Loup faced one batter in the eighth, who singled, and Ryan Tepera walked C.J. Cron on four pitches, but stranded him as well as the inherited runner. In the ninth, Mallex Smith doubled off Tepera, then Matt Duffy singled with two out, scoring Smith and walking off the game.
The Blue Jays didn’t have any extra-base hits in Game 2 or Game 3.
Troy Tulowitzki made a rare appearance to visit his teammates on Tuesday, saying that he doesn't know when he'll return from the disabled list (after having early-season surgery to remove bone spurs from his heels). He added that he's been making progress, taking infield and batting practice, and is hopeful that he'll return some time this season.
My favourite player(s) this series: Granderson
Curtis Granderson started the last two games of this series as the DH, but was removed for a pinch-hitter in Game 2 as soon as the Rays brought in a left-handed pitcher. He was 4-for-6 overall, all singles.
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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!