Series Sum-Up: Orioles vs. Blue Jays

 Curtis Granderson (front, left) and Randal Grichuk starred for the Toronto Blue Jays in their recent four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Curtis Granderson (front, left) and Randal Grichuk starred for the Toronto Blue Jays in their recent four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Emily @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays from Away

Game 1: Thursday, June 7
JAYS WIN!!! 5-4 (10 innings, walkoff)
Starting Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Winning Pitcher: Danny Barnes

The first hitter for both teams scored, making it 1-1 in the first inning. Trey Mancini led off the game with a double, and then scored on a Manny Machado sacrifice fly. Curtis Granderson hit a game-tying home run off David Hess leading off the bottom of the inning. Hess then shut down the next six batters, until Randal Grichuk led off the third with a double. Grichuk was stranded, as were a pair of runners after Teoscar Hernandez was caught stealing in the fourth.

Jaime Garcia stranded a single and a walk in the fourth, then got Chris Davis with a swinging strikeout to strand the bases loaded in the sixth. That was his last batter of the game, and his sixth strikeout. He’d allowed one run in six innings on four hits, and one walk (and one intentional walk). His replacement, Tyler Clippard, gave up a solo home run to the seventh, giving Baltimore a 2-1 lead. He struck out the rest of the side. Hess allowed a single to the first batter in the seventh and then was pulled from the game. Another pair of Jays runners were stranded in that inning.

John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) came in the pitch the eighth and the Orioles widened their lead with back-to-back home runs by Danny Valencia and Mark Trumbo. It looked like that would be the end of it, but the Jays came back for three runs in the ninth off Brad Brach. Luke Maile started the rally with a one-out walk, then Aledmys Diaz and Grichuk hit back-to-back doubles. Devon Travis pinch-hit and walked, then Grichuk raced home to score from second on a Kevin Pillar single, tying the game at 4. Brach was yanked, and Miguel Castro induced a double play that ended the inning and sent it to extras.

Danny Barnes followed up Seunghwan Oh’s perfect ninth with a perfect inning of his own, including two strikeouts. Hernandez led off the bottom of the 10th with a double, Justin Smoak was intentionally walked, and after a pair of strikeouts, Aledmys Diaz singled to left field, Hernandez ran home, and the game was over.

Game 2: Friday, June 8

JAYS WIN!!! 5-1
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Save: Ryan Tepera

 

J.A. Happ having fantastic starts has almost become routine this season. The lone Orioles run wasn’t even earned. Danny Valencia led off with a walk in the second, and Mark Trumbo walked, moving him to second base. Trey Mancini grounded to short, and as Devon Travis tried to turn the double play at second base, he threw the ball away, allowing Valencia to score and Mancini to get to second. Travis was also involved in another mishap as he and Kevin Pillar converged on a shallow pop-up in the third. They stumbled over each other, allowing the ball to fall in. It was scored a leadoff single for Craig Gentry, but didn’t do any damage.

Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) tied the game with a solo shot in the second. The first two Blue Jays batters in the third singled, but Aledmys Diaz was thrown out stealing, and Travis was forced out on a bunt by Curtis Granderson. They took the lead thanks to a Randal Grichuk homer in the fifth, then scored another in the next inning on three singles, including a bizarre play that saw Hernandez score, with the RBI going to Martin, but Pillar getting thrown out between second and third base.

Hernandez hit his fifth triple of the season in the seventh, driving in another run. Finally, Pillar led off the eighth with a solo home run, his sixth of the season. Happ completed seven innings, allowing just two hits and two walks. Seunghwan Oh got two outs in the eighth, but also allowed a pair of singles. That required Ryan Tepera to be brought in for a four-out save. He accomplished that with help from Hernandez, who threw out Valencia trying to stretch a leadoff double in the ninth. The play was reviewed, but the out call was upheld. The Blue Jays had 13 hits, and only allowed five.

Game 3: Saturday, June 9
JAYS WIN!!! 5-4 (10 innings, walkoff)
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Winning Pitcher: John Axford

In a reversal of Game 1, the Blue Jays had a lead and then the Orioles tied it up late. Kevin Gausman allowed the first run of the game in the third on three hits. A force out and a double play prevented a bigger rally. In the meantime, Aaron Sanchez stranded five Orioles on the bases through the first five innings, including three walks, and two who had reached on infield singles. The Jays scored again with back-to-back doubles from Yangervis Solarte and Teoscar Hernandez leading off the sixth.

Kevin Pillar made a sliding catch to rob Mark Trumbo of a hit in the top of the seventh, but a single and a Chance Sisco double put Baltimore on the board, and then another single tied the game once Sanchez was removed.

Randal Grichuk wasted no time regaining the lead, as he led off the seventh with a home run. But Joe Biagini hit a batter in the eighth, made a throwing error that took Justin Smoak off the bag and allowed Trumbo to reach safely, and Tyler Clippard made a wild pitch with the bases loaded. There was confusion because it seemed like the batter, Jace Peterson, had swung for strike three - but on appeal he hadn’t gone around and the run counted. Peterson then struck out on the next pitch, with the game tied.

After John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) stranded a pair, and Aledmys Diaz made a sharp play at the plate to avoid a run, the Blue Jays went to extra innings for the third time in four days. Axford stranded a walk in the 10th and Mychal Givens came in from the Orioles bullpen. He walked Smoak with one out, then Kendrys Morales singled. After getting Pillar to fly out, Givens hit Grichuk, and that loaded the bases. Luke Maile took four pitches for balls, walking to force in a run and deliver his second walkoff of the season.

Game 4: Sunday, June 10
JAYS WIN!!! 13-3
Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada

Rather than another nail-biter, the Blue Jays offered up a decisive win on Sunday afternoon to secure the four-game sweep. Baltimore scored first on a solo home run from Trey Mancini in the second. The Blue Jays, having stranded a pair of their own runners in the 1st, answered with two singles. Curtis Granderson doubled on a softly-hit fly ball that Mancini dove for and missed, scoring two runs. Kendrys Morales hit a leadoff homer in the third, pushing the lead to 3-1.

Then they leaned on Alex Cobb in the fourth, starting off with a pair of singles back up the middle that narrowly missed the pitcher. Granderson hit a three-run bomb on a 3-0 count, then Yangervis Solarte and Teoscar Hernandez hit back-to-back singles. Both of those runs scored on a single off the bat of Kevin Pillar, at which point Cobb was pulled from the game and replaced with Pedro Araujo. Pillar eventually scored after Araujo walked Russell Martin, and Randal Grichuk singled on a ball off the third baseman’s glove. When the dust settled, six runs had scored on seven hits and a walk. All nine runs to that point were charged to Cobb.

They weren’t done there, as Gio Urshela worked a four-pitch walk in the 5th, setting the table again for Granderson, who doubled. Hernandez hit his 10th homer of the season to score another pair, and two batters later Pillar added a solo home run of his own.

Compared to the exploding offence, Marco Estrada’s start might have gone unnoticed. After the second-inning homer, and a single to the next batter, he retired twelve consecutive Orioles. That streak was ended by a two-out single by Manny Machado in the sixth. Estrada then gave up a homer to Jonathan Schoop, the first batter in the seventh, and left the game having allowed two runs on four hits and a walk over six-plus innings. Joe Biagini came in and loaded the bases on a single, a ground-rule double, and a walk. A run crossed the plate when Jace Peterson grounded into a forceout (they couldn’t turn the double play in time). Biagini eventually got out of it with a swinging strikeout on Pedro Alvarez.

The Blue Jays loaded the bases in the sixth on a trio of singles but stranded them loaded (not that they needed insurance runs at that point). With 19 hits, it marked their fourth consecutive game getting hits in the double-digits, and the second-most hits the Orioles had allowed all year. Tim Mayza pitched the remainder of the game for the home side, getting a double play to erase a leadoff single in the eighth, and pitching around a hit batter in the ninth.

Overall Notes:

First time this season the Blue Jays have had four consecutive quality starts (they still lost two of those games, both against the Yankees). They didn’t have such a streak all last season. It extended to seven through Sunday.

The Blue Jays claimed Preston Guilmet off waivers on Wednesday. Deck McGuire was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster. Tim Mayza was optioned to Buffalo after the game on Sunday, and Guilmet is expected to join the big club on Monday.

After the play early in Game 2 that resulted in Devon Travis and Kevin Pillar having a midfield collision, Travis reported pain in his knee. He didn’t appear to be in pain at the time, and finished the game, but didn’t appear in Game 3 or 4, and was limping on Saturday. He hasn’t been put on the disabled list, but it is unclear how much time he will need before he feels well enough to play again.

Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

- Curtis Granderson had a new career high in RBIs on Sunday, with six in the same game.

- Granderson also becomes the second player in Blue Jays history to drive in six runs in one game while hitting leadoff.

My favourite player(s) this series: Everybody!

Why would I pick a few favourites from this series when nearly every member of the team contributed to the sweep? A few performances to highlight:

J.A. Happ picked up his 100th career win on Friday. It’s his 57th with Toronto (including his first stint from 2012-14). However, almost exactly half (120/241) of his career starts have been with the Blue Jays. He went seven innings, allowing just one (unearned) run on two hits and a pair of walks. He only had three strikeouts but faced the minimum in four of his seven innings. His ERA has dipped below 4 again, sitting at 3.71 for the season, and 3.00 for June.

Not only did Curtis Granderson contribute heavily to the scoring in Game 4 with those six RBI, but he went 4-for-5 in that game (a triple shy of the cycle, with two doubles) and went 6-for-11 over the whole series with a home run in Game 1 as well.

Apparently, Gio Urshela didn’t just take the number 3 from Ezequiel Carrera – he seems to have inherited his talent for infield singles as well. In the three games he played this series, Urshela was 6-for-11, and four of those balls didn’t leave the infield. He also walked once and scored three times.

Luke Maile didn’t get a hit in seven at-bats over two games, but he did take three walks in this series, one of which forced in the winning run in Saturday’s game.

Marco Estrada had a six-plus inning start with two runs allowed on four hits and only one walk. He also struck out nine, a new season high. It was his second consecutive quality start, a massive improvement over his struggles earlier in the season.

Yangervis Solarte was 6-for-19 in the series, including a double. He also scored a run and drove in one. Those six hits raised his batting average by 10 points after going 0-for-5 in Game 1.

Teoscar Hernandez went 7-for-21 with a walk this weekend, with two doubles, a triple, and a home run. He’s leading the team in triples, and has the second-most home runs. He scored four runs, and drove in four. He also made a savvy defensive play, making an outfield assist in the ninth inning of Game 2 when he threw out Danny Valencia at second base. He also scored the winning run in Game 1.

Kevin Pillar had seven hits in 16 at-bats (he didn’t start Game 1, but was used as a pinch-hitter in the 8th). Those seven hits included a home run, and he drove in five runs. His highlight reel typically featured a few sliding catches, but he also hit a clutch game-tying single in the ninth inning of Game 1.

Randal Grichuk looks to be rounding into form after some struggles in the early season, and returning from injury. Across four games, he had eight hits, including a 3-for-4 game on Thursday, and 3-for-5 on Sunday. He had one hit in each of the other two games, but both were home runs. He scored five runs total, drove in five, and also walked.

The Jays got a lot of production from the bottom of the order in this series, and Aledmys Diaz was a big part of that. Obviously, his biggest contribution was a two-strike, two-out RBI single that walked off Game 1 in the 10th inning, but he had six other hits, including two doubles. His average is now 24 points higher than at the beginning of the series.

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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.