By Emily @JaysGirlEmily
Blue Jays from Away
After bad luck with the weather over the weekend, the Blue Jays returned home for even more misfortune, as the first game of the series was postponed when some ice fell off the CN Tower and punched a hole in the roof of the Rogers Centre. They made it up with a single-admission doubleheader the next day, after three days off in a row.
Game 1: Tuesday, April 17 (afternoon game)
JAYS WIN!!! 11-3
Winning Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Both of the starters in this game went five innings, each allowed one walk and eight hits. But Jaime Garcia came away with the win, despite allowing two home runs and having fewer strikeouts (four) than his opponent, Eric Skoglund (who had six).
The Jays got on the board in the first, on a two-run Yangervis Solarte home run. Garcia loaded the bases to start the second with three singles, and one scored on a double play. He then hit a batter, but got a force out to escape with the lead. Then in the third, the Royals tied it and took a 3-2 lead when Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda hit back-to-back home runs with two out.
Toronto reclaimed their lead in the fifth thanks to five hits – a Randal Grichuk leadoff double, and four consecutive one-out singles. That scored three runs, putting them on top 5-3. However, it was the sixth when they really broke out, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring six runs on five hits, a sacrifice fly, and an error, including a three-run homer from Grichuk.
Game 2: Tuesday, April 17 (Night game)
JAYS WIN!! 5-4 (10 innings, walkoff)
Starting Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Winning Pitcher: Tyler Clippard
Despite the fireworks they displayed earlier in the day, the Jays couldn’t get any runs in six innings against Danny Duffy. Duffy allowed just two hits – a Steve Pearce double in the third, and a Kevin Pillar single in the fourth – and a pair of walks. In the meantime, Joe Biagini narrowly escaped the first inning. He’d loaded the bases with a single (which bounced off the first baseman Pearce), a walk, and another single, then hit Lucas Duda to force in a run. After that followed two consecutive force outs at home, and a fly out to end the inning.
Kansas City increased their lead to 2-0 in the third when Mike Moustakas doubled to cash in a leadoff walk. Biagini got three strikeouts to strand Moustakas. He got through the next two innings cleanly as well, then allowed a leadoff home run to Abraham Almonte in the sixth, and was lifted with two outs after walking Jon Jay.
In the bottom of that inning, the Royals brought in Justin Grimm, who walked the first three batters and was promptly removed. Then Brad Keller was brought in, and Luke Maile hit a two-run single. Devon Travis got a pinch-hit RBI single when the ball got stuck in Moustakas’ glove, and just like that the game was tied with nobody out. Pearce singled and drove in Maile, giving the Blue Jays the lead, and after Keller got a strikeout the Royals changed pitchers again.
The next inning featured a home run from Alcides Escobar, tying the game for the Royals off Ryan Tepera. Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth, and Moustakas was in scoring position but Osuna caught him in a rundown. In the bottom of the ninth, the Jays had runners at the corners with one out, but they were stranded and the game went to extras. Tyler Clippard allowed just one single in the 10th, and the Jays loaded the bases with one out. Pillar singled and advanced on a wild pitch. Aledmys Diaz was intentionally walked, and Randal Grichuk got hit with a pitch. Luke Maile singled to right field to score Pillar, delivering the Blue Jays their first walkoff of this season.
Game 3: Wednesday, April 18 (Day game)
JAYS WIN!!! 15-5
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
To seal their first sweep this year, the Blue Jays scored equal or more runs in every inning the Royals scored in. They got a head start in the first when Teoscar Hernandez singled and Justin Smoak doubled to score him. J.A. Happ allowed a single and a walk in the third, both of which were brought in with a Mike Moustakas double. The Blue Jays countered with a two-run homer from Hernandez, and a solo shot from Yangervis Solarte, making it 3-2.
The Royals retook the lead with a two-run homer from Whit Merrifield in the fifth, but once again the Jays rallied thanks to a walk, a single, an error on the left fielder that allowed a run to score, and a pinch-hit RBI single from Luke Maile. Toronto held their lead from there on out, adding three runs in the seventh. One scored on a wild pitch, the other two were driven in by Hernandez with a triple.
After Happ set down the side with seven pitches in the sixth, his night was done. Danny Barnes took over and pitched a clean seventh, before Aaron Loup allowed the final Kansas City run (a solo shot from Jorge Soler) in the eighth. It may have been a two-run homer if not for Solarte laying out to rob the hitter before. In the bottom half of that inning, the Blue Jays once again beat up on the Royals’ bullpen to the tune of six runs on four hits and two walks, capped off with a Curtis Granderson grand slam. All of the runs scored with just one out. Tim Mayza made his first appearance of the season, pitching the ninth, and allowed one hit and a walk.
Jose Bautista has officially found a new team. The Blue Jays great wasn’t signed over the off-season, but it was announced on Wednesday that he’d found a new home with the Atlanta Braves. He signed a minor-league deal with former Blue Jays general manager, and current Braves GM, Alex Anthopoulos.
Joe Biagini was brought up as a spot starter during the doubleheader, in order to allow the rotation to continue on regular rest. A team is also allowed to have a 26th man on the roster during the second game of a doubleheader, therefore Biagini was allowed to be brought up temporarily and sent back down without corresponding roster moves having to be made.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- The Blue Jays have only ever hosted three doubleheaders at Rogers Centre, but they are undefeated (6-0) in those games.
My favourite player(s) this series: Maile/Hernandez/Solarte
Luke Maile has been a really pleasant surprise this season. He’s currently hitting .476, and went 4-for-6 with two walks, a double, three runs scored, and four RBI, including the game-winning hit in Game 2. He was brought in as a pinch-hitter in Game 3 and was perfect in three plate appearances that day. His performance prompted Russell Martin to joke that instead of being ‘Wally Pipp’ed, he’d been ‘Luke Maile’ed.
Teoscar Hernandez went 6-for-13 in this series, and was a double shy of the cycle in Game 3. He had four runs scored across three games, drove in four runs in Game 3 alone, and also took a walk.
Yangervis Solarte continues to be one of the Jays’ hottest hitters. Although his on-base streak to begin the season was snapped when he went 0-for-5 in Game 2, he more than made up for it with home runs in each of the other games, and four RBI in Game 1. In Game 3 he went 2-for-4 with a walk, and scored three times.
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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!