By Emily @JaysGirlEmily
Blue Jays from Away
Game 1: Tuesday, April 24
JAYS WIN!!!! 4-3 (10 innings, walkoff)
Starting Pitcher: J.A. Happ
Winning Pitcher: Tyler Clippard
Facing Rick Porcello, Toronto leapt out to a 3-0 lead in the second thanks to a leadoff walk, a couple of force outs, and two singles. None of the batted balls, but for a dribbler of a single into right field from Martin, left the infield. One run scored on a misplayed fielder’s choice to the third baseman Rafael Devers, and another pair scored on a Curtis Granderson infield single – also hit to Devers.
J.A. Happ allowed just two hits through the first five innings, neither of which were hard-hit balls, and one of which simply dropped between the fielders. Boston didn’t get on the board until the sixth, when Brock Holt led off and doubled on a line drive down into the left-field corner. Two outs later, Hanley Ramirez flared a single into centre field for the RBI. Both Happ and Porcello lasted seven innings, with a double and a walk in the fifth representing the only runners for the Jays after the mishap of the second. Ultimately, both starters would get no-decisions.
Ryan Tepera pitched a clean eighth and Roberto Osuna was brought in to preserve a 3-1 lead for the save. It was not to be, as Ramirez led off with a single, then Devers also singled just over Devon Travis’ head. Eduardo Nunez drove in Ramirez with another single, which was the first run Osuna had allowed all season – in fact, the first since September 5, 2017 (in another game against the Red Sox). A missed strike-three call led to a two-out walk for Christian Vazquez, and loaded the bases. Holt singled to drive in another run and tie the game, but Granderson fired the ball in with plenty of time to get Nunez at home and end the inning.
Rather than bringing in Craig Kimbrel with the game tied, Boston left Joe Kelly in for his second inning. Kevin Pillar doubled with two out but was left on base as Aledmys Diaz flew out, sending the game to extras. Tyler Clippard took the mound in the 10th for the Jays, and after a leadoff walk got a fly out and a double play to end things. Kimbrel made his appearance then, and with one out, Granderson hit a walkoff home run. That was also Kimbrel's first run allowed all season.
Game 2: Wednesday, April 25
Jays lose, 3-4
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Losing Pitcher: Danny Barnes
The leadoff man, Mookie Betts, put the Red Sox on the board with a home run. Sanchez pitched around an outfield error to get out of that inning, and then set down eight in a row. Steve Pearce led off the bottom of the first with a double off Eduardo Rodriguez, and scored when Justin Smoak singled to the third baseman Rafael Devers. Devers threw the ball over the first baseman and into the seats, allowing the run to come home. The second inning through to the fourth were quiet, with each team getting one baserunner over that time and stranding him.
Jackie Bradley Jr. walked leading off the fifth, then Sanchez hit a batter and Bradley scored on a Brock Holt double which Pearce fell down while trying to catch. The Jays requested a review of the play, believing that two runners had passed each other on the basepaths, but the call held and Boston took a 2-1 lead. Sanchez walked Andrew Benintendi, loading the bases with one out, but got a double play to escape the jam.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit an infield single in the fifth and then also stole the first base of his major-league career. He came in to score, tying the game, when Pearce singled. In his final inning of work, Sanchez hit the leadoff batter, but then struck out three in a row – the first two on six straight pitches.
Yangervis Solarte homered on Rodriguez’s first pitch of the sixth. But Toronto’s lead was short-lived when Danny Barnes came in for the seventh and surrendered a two-run homer to Betts (his second of the game). Barnes then walked two and was pulled, and Seung-Hwan Oh walked another to load the bases with one out again. Fortunately for the Jays, Benintendi tagged too early on a fly ball to right field, and was forced to go back, preventing another run from scoring.
Rodriguez left the game with two out in the seventh, and the Jays couldn’t get a runner against Boston’s bullpen. Their own relievers kept them in the game, as Tim Mayza, Ryan Tepera, and Tyler Clippard combined for two innings of work with just a walk and a single, and a pair of strikeouts between them. Both teams had six hits total.
Game 3: Thursday, April 26
Jays lose, 4-5
Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada
After a hot start against Chris Sale, the Blue Jays’ pitching faltered, and the bats couldn’t recover. Kevin Pillar hit a bases-loaded sac fly in the first inning, scoring Steve Pearce for the first run of the game. They had a chance for more runs then, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. ended the inning by flying out to deep right field. Devon Travis added to the Jays’ lead in the second, by hitting his long-awaited first home run of the season.
Boston got on the board in the third, when Brock Holt hit a one-out double. Holt, who appeared to injure his leg stretching the double, was replaced with a pinch-runner, who then came in to score on Andrew Benintendi’s double. After a walk, Marco Estrada picked Benintendi off at second base to end the inning.
Toronto got the run back when Justin Smoak hit his third home run of the year, but the Sox countered with a run on two hits and a sac fly in the fourth. Estrada then gave up a three-run homer to J.D. Martinez after a pair of two-out singles in the fifth, putting the score at 5-3 Boston. Aaron Loup then pitched two innings for Toronto without allowing a baserunner. Estrada’s final line was five innings pitched with five earned runs on eight hits and a walk.
Steve Pearce and Hernandez both took 10-pitch plate appearances in the bottom of the fifth; Pearce flew out and Hernandez walked. He was stranded, but that inning was key in getting Sale out of the game after the sixth. The first Boston reliever, Carson Smith, allowed a triple to Travis (who then scored on a ground out) and a double to Hernandez before being removed from the game. Matt Barnes got a strikeout to end the inning, and returned to pitch the eighth, when he walked Pillar and the pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson with one out. Randal Grichuk moved the runners with a ground out that was reviewed (Mitch Moreland’s foot appeared to come off the base) but the call stood. Craig Kimbrel picked up the save for Boston.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- Curtis Granderson is the oldest Blue Jays player to hit a walkoff home run since 2009, and the fifth-oldest overall.
- The Jays were the only team left in the majors not to allow a three-run homer (or grand slam) before Thursday
- Prior to Thursday, they were also 13-0 in games they scored four or more runs
- Marco Estrada got his 1,000th career strikeout in the second inning of Thursday’s game.
My favourite player(s) this week: Happ/Sanchez/Granderson
J.A. Happ was phenomenal in his start on Tuesday, only allowing one run in seven innings, striking out 10 and not walking anyone. He didn’t end up with the win, due to the blown save, but he definitely would have deserved it. His ERA of 3.72 is currently a close second-best in the rotation.
Like Happ, Aaron Sanchez had a great start that was blown by the bullpen. With two runs allowed over six innings on just three hits and two walks (plus two hit batters), it was his best start of the season. He also struck out eight, including the last three batters he faced. At 3.69, his ERA is the best of the Jays’ starters.
Curtis Granderson only started one game this series, and pinch-hit in another, but he made the most of it, getting three hits (two for extra bases) and a walk in six plate appearances. He was instrumental in winning Game 1, thanks to his a two-RBI single and walkoff home run. Let’s not forget, it was Granderson’s throw to the plate that finally ended that ninth inning and prevented the Red Sox from taking the lead. He also had a pretty hilarious reaction to having Gatorade dumped on him by teammates postgame.
Where we are now:
3rd place in the AL East, 5 games back of Boston
This weekend, the Rangers are in town for a three-game series. The Jays have already faced their old playoff nemeses on the road (winning that series 2 games to 1) and after this weekend will be finished with them for the season. Texas currently has a 9-17 record, worst in their division, and three of the most recognizable faces are missing from their lineup: Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre are all on the disabled list.
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