Series Sum-Up: Jays vs. Phillies

 Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) made his first big league start at shortstop on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) made his first big league start at shortstop on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

May 28, 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Report
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away

Game 1: Friday, May 25
JAYS WIN!!! 6-5
Winning Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio
Save: Ryan Tepera

The Jays capitalized on some errors early in the game, before it turned into a bit of a nail-biter at the end. Josh Donaldson doubled in the first, and scored as Teoscar Hernandez reached on an infield single with two outs. Yangervis Solarte and Kevin Pillar then hit back-to-back doubles, giving Sam Gaviglio a 3-0 lead before he even took the mound. Gaviglio set down the first eight batters in a row, and also hit a double in the second, before allowing the first hit. That was a home run by the opposing pitcher, Zach Eflin, in the third.

Gaviglio escaped a jam in the fourth with two on base (both walks). A potential double play failed when he failed to catch the ball while covering first base. But he then induced a ground out to strand runners at the corners. Toronto widened their lead with a three-run fifth inning, including a two-run homer from Justin Smoak. Solarte singled with two out, advanced on a passed ball, and Pillar reached when a throw by Maikel Franco pulled the first baseman Carlos Santana off the base. Eflin left the game after that, and Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) singled to score Solarte.

That single was one of just two that would be allowed by the Philadelphia bullpen. The other (a Justin Smoak infield single in the eighth) was erased on a double play. Santana hit a two-run homer in the sixth, cutting Toronto’s lead to 6-3. Seunghwan Oh allowed a leadoff walk in the seventh, but stranded it. Tyler Clippard allowed a run on back-to-back doubles to start the eighth. Ryan Tepera was brought in to close things out. After a one-out single between infielders, a double, and a run scoring on a wild pitch, he walked a pair. That loaded the bases, but he shortly got a strikeout and a ground out to end the game.

Game 2: Saturday, May 26
Jays lose, 1-2
Starting Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini

This game was hard-fought by both starters, but ultimately it was the bullpen which made the difference. Jaime Garcia had a strong game after returning from the disabled list, pitching seven innings of one-run ball. He got some help from defenders in unusual positions, including a backhanded catch from Curtis Granderson in centre field, and a strong throw from Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) playing shortstop. It was a leadoff home run from Maikel Franco in the fourth that broke the scoreless tie. Garcia’s start - with five hits, five strikeouts and no walks – might have grabbed the headlines if not for Aaron Nola taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

Josh Donaldson walked in the first, but Nola retired the next 18 batters in order, including three strikeouts in the sixth, before walking Justin Smoak in the seventh. In that time, not one batted ball from a Blue Jay had left the infield. Nola walked Yangervis Solarte with two out, and Martin laced a single into left field, scoring Smoak, tying the game, and ending the no-hitter. Nola left the field to a standing ovation (including from Martin himself).

Garcia stranded two singles (one a bunt back to the mound) in the bottom of the seventh, and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in Kevin Pillar. Pillar had an infield single, but Granderson hit into a double play. Joe Biagini began the eighth, making his first relief appearance of the season, and Nick Williams homered on his second pitch. Biagini got the next two batters before Aaron Loup came in, hit a batter, and ended the inning. In the top of the ninth, Donaldson reached on a ball to the third baseman, but Smoak struck out for the third time in the game, and Teoscar Hernandez hit into a game-ending double play.

Game 3: Sunday, May 27
JAYS WIN!! 5-3
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Save: Ryan Tepera

The Blue Jays faced Canadian Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) for five innings and scored two runs off him. J.A. Happ allowed the same number of earned runs (plus one unearned) in 6 2/3 innings. Curtis Granderson led off the game with a single, and advanced two bases when Pivetta made an error while trying to pick him off. He was stranded at third. In the second, Russell Martin and Dwight Smith Jr. took back-to-back walks, advanced on a wild pitch, and Devon Travis hit a double to bring them both in.

With Pivetta out of the game after the fifth, the Jays hung a two-run, three-hit inning on Tommy Hunter. Smith drove in both runs, hitting a shallow double down the left-field line with the bases loaded. Hunter left the game with two out, and Travis was intentionally walked to load the bases again before Happ struck out to end it.

Happ kept the Phillies off the board through five, stranding one in the second, two in the fourth, and a leadoff Scott Kingery double in the fifth. After a one-out single in the sixth, Carlos Santana reached on a grounder to third that Josh Donaldson barehanded but made a wide throw. Aaron Altherr singled to centre field and one run scored, but Kevin Pillar failed to pick up the ball and Santana scored on what was ruled an error. Nick Williams singled to score Altherr, then Happ got two quick outs to end the inning.

He began the seventh, and was lifted after getting the first two batters. Seung-hwan Oh got four outs with 15 pitches, including two strikeouts. Curtis Granderson gave the Jays some breathing room with a home run in the ninth. Ryan Tepera walked the leadoff man in the ninth, got a force out, and then got a double play to pick up the save. The Blue Jays had eight hits, while the Phillies had six. Pillar had three hard-hit balls in this game, but two were right at infielders for line outs, and one was robbed by a diving Kingery.

Overall Notes:

Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) didn’t appear in a game before he was sent back down to triple-A Buffalo on Saturday, to coincide with Jaime Garcia’s return from the disabled list.

My favourite player(s) this series: Gaviglio/Garcia/Oh/Happ

Sam Gaviglio’s start was, relatively speaking, one of his worst performances so far with the team – and he still lasted six innings! He only gave up three hits, but two were home runs, and they drove in all three of his runs allowed. He walked a pair and struck out six, but also picked up a double of his own.

Jaime Garcia had just returned from the disabled list with a sore shoulder, but you wouldn’t know it by his performance on Saturday. He allowed one run in a seven-inning start, and with his pitch count at only 73 pitches, I’m inclined to think he would have begun the eighth if they were in an American League park. Instead, he was removed for a pinch-hitter with the game tied. The Phillies had five hits off the lefty, but only one (Franco’s home run) was for extra bases, and he didn’t walk anybody.

Seunghwan Oh was the most dominant Blue Jays reliever in this series, in 2 1/3 innings of work. In two appearances, he had only one runner allowed – a walk on Friday – and struck out four. He helped maintain a narrow one-run lead by getting four outs on Sunday. His ERA is now at 2.08 for May, and 2.22 for the year, which the best among relievers who’ve been with the team since Opening Day.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but J.A. Happ was great. He pitched into the seventh inning with eight strikeouts, six hits, and two walks. Things got a bit messy in the sixth due to a couple of errors, but he got out of it to maintain the lead. Even with that, he only had two earned runs allowed.

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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!

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.