By Emily @JaysGirlEmily
Blue Jays from Away
Game 1: Friday, July 27
JAYS WIN!!! 10-5
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
For the fourth time in team history, the Blue Jays hit back-to-back home runs to begin a game. Curtis Granderson led off, with his 10th of the year, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. followed. Reynaldo Lopez was down by two runs after only having thrown three pitches. He then gave up a single, and a walk, which prompted the ejection of the White Sox’s manager and pitching coach, because they protested a checked swing on ball four. Lopez got a double play and a strikeout to end that inning, but the Jays touched him up for three more runs in the second that included a two-run homer from Randal Grichuk, a pair of walks, and a Justin Smoak double.
Marcus Stroman worked around two leadoff singles in the second, but allowed a run on a walk and two singles in the third. Gurriel had the first two-homer game of his career with a solo shot in the fourth, again on the first pitch. Lopez departed the game in the fifth, after Kendrys Morales hit a leadoff home run, and Teoscar Hernandez walked with one out. Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) doubled, scoring Hernandez, then moved to third after Grichuk and Devon Travis were both hit with pitches.
What came next was a bizarre play that saw Martin attempt to score on a wild pitch, only to have the ball be called dead. The ball had gotten stuck under the umpire’s arm, then dropped when the umpire called time. Martin retreated back to third base, but after some discussion, the umpire allowed the run to score. Grichuk then scored on a sacrifice fly from Granderson. The only Blue Jay to reach base after that was Gurriel, on a double in the eighth that was the result of a 12-pitch at-bat. Even when the Sox brought in a position player, Matt Davidson, to pitch the ninth, nobody else got on base.
Stroman pitched into the seventh, and only left after allowing a run on a two-out triple to Nicky Delmonico and a double. Joe Biagini faced four batters and retired them all, then Oliver Drake made his first Blue Jays appearance for the ninth. Drake allowed back-to-back doubles to start the inning, another triple to Delmonico, and an RBI single to Adam Engel before getting two flyouts to end the game. That scored three runs.
Game 2: Saturday, July 28
Jays lose, 5-9
Starting Pitcher: John Axford
Losing Pitcher: Ryan Tepera
The bullpen day that started off great quickly went downhill from there. John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) made the first start of his major-league career, and faced the minimum, with his lone hit allowed an infield single leading off the third. Curtis Granderson and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. went back-to-back to start a game again, this time with singles. Kendrys Morales followed suit, driving in Granderson. Gurriel picked up a pair of RBI in the second, when he singled with the bases loaded. That hit, his second of the game, set a new Blue Jays record for consecutive games with multiple hits.
Russell Martin, who had led off the second with a walk and then scored, homered in the third to put the Jays ahead 4-0. The White Sox got a run back in the fourth, a solo homer from Yolmer Sanchez. Jake Petricka allowed two more hits in that inning, but benefited from a double play turned by Gurriel at short. Justin Smoak led off the fifth with a double, and Yangervis Solarte plated him with a single. Martin reached on a chopper off the plate that the pitcher tried the field, and Randal Grichuk was hit with a pitch, loading the bases. Martin was then nearly picked off of second, and Solarte was caught in a rundown between third and home, ending the inning.
Tyler Clippard was charged with two runs on three hits and a wild pitch in the seventh, including a Nicky Delmonico home run. Jaime Garcia faced three batters in the eighth: walk, force out, double. Finally, Ryan Tepera failed to get an out, allowing two singles, hitting two batters, loading the bases twice, and clearing them with a Leury Garcia triple. Of the 10 batters to hit that inning, eight in a row reached base, six scored, one was out on a force out, and Garcia was the only one left behind by Oliver Drake. The inning was also a prolonged by injury delay, when an attempted squeeze bunt ricocheted off Martin’s unprotected throwing hand. Both teams tallied 12 hits, and neither had an error.
Game 3: Sunday, July 29
JAYS WIN!!! 7-4
Starting Pitcher: Ryan Borucki
Winning pitcher: Luis Santos
Once again, a comeback was in order, but the Blue Jays came out on top this time. Ryan Borucki held the White Sox scoreless for the first four innings of his start. On the other side of the diamond, Carlos Rodon was doing the same thing. Rodon stranded a pair of singles in the first, then retired the next 11 batters. Borucki stranded a double in the second inning, and a triple in the third, both with one out. Aledmys Diaz put the visiting team on the board with a leadoff home run in the fifth.
Yoan Moncada singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and Adam Engel reached on a bunt when nobody covered first base. A sac bunt moved the runners, and the game was tied on a ground out. Borucki issued his first and only walk in the sixth, following a leadoff single, then Matt Davidson singled in another run. Borucki stranded a pair when Engel was called out for running out of the baseline. His start was over after six innings, with two runs allowed on six hits and one walk. Luis Santos replaced him, and promptly allowed a home run to Omar Narvaez.
Brandon Drury was hit with a pitch leading off the eighth, and Luke Maile took a one-out walk before Gurriel singled, making it a one-run game. That prompted the end of Rodon’s start, and his replacement got Justin Smoak to pop out, ending the inning. Santos pitched a perfect eighth, and then Teoscar Hernandez tied the game with a leadoff homer off Jace Fry in the ninth. Fry also hit Kendrys Morales and gave up a double to Diaz before getting yanked, with two runners on and nobody out. Drury scored both runners with a double.
After the first out, Maile also doubled, scoring Drury. But then disaster struck as Gurriel collected his third hit of the day. Maile scored, making it 7-3, but Gurriel was tagged out at second base and his left knee buckled under him. He was the third out of the inning, and remained on the ground for a few minutes before being helped off the field by Blue Jays training staff. Drury took over at second base and Russell Martin played third. Ryan Tepera successfully closed out the ninth, securing the series win despite a pinch-hit homer from Daniel Palka. He stranded another single when Curtis Granderson made a sliding catch on a shallow fly ball.
Brandon Drury was activated for the series. He pinch-hit on Friday, then started Saturday and Sunday at third base. He was 2-for-8 with a double, drove in a pair, struck out three times, and made some key defensive plays at the hot corner.
Outfielder Billy McKinney, the piece acquired in the J.A. Happ trade was sent to the Buffalo Bisons. Happ released this message thanking Blue Jays fans for their support.
After Gurriel was hurt in Sunday’s game, he was taken for x-rays. They came back negative, and he was diagnosed with a contusion on his knee and a sprained ankle. Devon Travis was hit with a baseball and the jays game but stayed in the game. He didn’t play Saturday or Sunday due to a sore back, unrelated to being hit.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Saturday’s game marked the first time an all-Canadian battery (John Axford throwing to Russell Martin) started a game for the Blue Jays.
- It was also the first time a Canadian hit a home run in a Blue Jays game that was started by a Canadian pitcher.
- As of Sunday, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has an 11-game streak with multiple hits. That sets a Blue Jays franchise record. The previous record (which Gurriel tied on Friday) was nine games, set by Tony Fernandez in 1986.
- It ties the longest such streak by an American League player in the modern era, and the third-longest in MLB history.
- It is also the longest streak by a rookie since “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in 1911.
My Favourite player(s) this series: Gurriel/Axford
Not only did Gurriel play an important role for the Blue Jays during this series, he was also making history while doing so. For games 9, 10 and 11 of his multi-hit streak, the rookie compiled eight total hits, including a double and two home runs, got a hit in the first inning of every game , and drove in six runs. He’s also got the highest batting average among MLB rookies, a mark of .322. It’s a shame he got injured on Sunday, because who knows when he’ll be back to see if this streak can continue.
John Axford’s first career start was also his longest-ever appearance. He faced the minimum, struck out the second batter of every inning, and got a double play to erase his only baserunner. He needed 38 pitches to get through the three-inning start.
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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!