Series Sum Up: Tigers vs. Blue Jays

 Justin Smoak went 3-for-11 in the Toronto Blue Jays' recent four-game series against the Detroit Tigers. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Justin Smoak went 3-for-11 in the Toronto Blue Jays' recent four-game series against the Detroit Tigers. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Emily @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays from Away

Game 1: Friday, June 29
JAYS WIN!!! 3-2
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Save: Tyler Clippard

Francisco Liriano made his first start in Toronto after being traded at the deadline in 2017. He went six full innings, and allowed three runs. A Teoscar Hernandez single in the first was erased on a double play. Liriano then walked a pair in the seconnd before striking out Aledmys Diaz to end the inning. Marcus Stroman allowed the first run of the game in the third, with an infield single by JaCoby Jones, who came around to score after another single and a double play.

The Blue Jays gained the advantage after a nine-batter, three-run fourth. Yangervis Solarte and Kendrys Morales both singled, and Solarte was thrown out at third. Then Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer to give the Jays the lead. Kevin Pillar singled, then two walks later Pillar was thrown out at home on a force out, but that kept the bases loaded. Randal Grichuk reached on a grounder to third that brought in another run, before Hernandez struck out to end the inning.

 

Game 2: Saturday, June 30
JAYS WIN!!!! 4-3 (Walkoff!)
Starting Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio
Winning Pitcher: Seunghwan Oh

 

The Blue Jays pushed the Tigers’ losing streak to 11 games with this tightly-contested game they won on a walkoff. Sam Gaviglio was good, pitching seven innings and only allowing four hits. Matt Boyd went six innings, and also allowed four hits. Both starters gave up three runs. Gaviglio also walked three, but two of those runners were caught stealing by Luke Maile. John Hicks broke open the scoring with a solo home run in the second to put the visitors on the board.

Jose Iglesias singled in the next inning and a sac bunt moved him over, but that didn’t even matter because Nick Castellanos homered two batters later. Boyd no-hit his former team for the first four innings, allowing only two walks (one to Maile, one to Yangervis Solarte). Kevin Pillar led off the fifth with a ground-rule double, then Aledmys Diaz singled and Pillar scored when Devon Travis grounded out. Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer to score Diaz and tie the game at 3-3. The Tigers got three baserunners in the sixth – a double, a force out, and an error charged to the third baseman Solarte – but Gaviglio struck out Hicks to strand a pair.

In Boyd’s final inning of work, he gave up a leadoff single to Solarte, but Justin Smoak hit into an inning-ending double play. Joe Biagini worked the eighth for the home squad and stranded a pair after the first two batters reached on singles. Travis reached on an infield single, then Teoscar Hernandez walked with one out, but Travis was thrown out at home, trying to score on a single from Solarte. Seunghwan Oh allowed a hit in the ninth, and the Tigers brought in Joe Jimenez to face Justin Smoak in the ninth. Smoak homered on the second pitch he saw, and brought the game to an end in a tidy 2 hours 38 minutes.

 

Game 3: Sunday, July 1
Jays lose, 1-9
Losing Pitcher: J.A. Happ

 

The Jays dropped their third consecutive Canada Day game, despite having their ace on the mound. They also scored first, when Teoscar Hernandez tripled in the first and Justin Smoak scored him with a ground-rule double. Those two were their only extra-base hits of the game, and Jordan Zimmermann retired the next nine batters, until Kevin Pillar singled in the fourth. J.A. Happ didn’t allow a hit until Nico Goodrum singled in the third, but Goodrum was promptly erased on a double play. The same thing happened when Nick Castellanos led off the fourth with a single.

Happ’s luck ran out with two outs in the fifth, when Goodrum and Jose Iglesias singled, and JaCoby Jones walked to load the bases. Leonys Martin reached on a bunt single that scored Goodrum, but left the game with an injured leg. Castellanos then hit a grand slam to put the Tigers up 5-1. Happ stayed in for the sixth, but left after giving up a single, a double, and a two-run single to Iglesias; again, the Detroit rally came with two outs in the inning. Happ’s final line was 5 2/3 innings pitched with seven runs allowed on 10 hits and a walk, and four strikeouts.

The Blue Jays did attempt a comeback in the bottom of the fifth, as both Aledmys Diaz and Devon Travis reached on infield singles with one out. But a strikeout and a fly out ensured they were stranded. Zimmermann then mowed through the lineup in the sixth and seventh innings before he left the game. Canadian John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) pitched a perfect 1 1/3 innings, then turned things over to Jake Petricka, who got a double play to erase a leadoff walk in the eighth. The Tigers scored another pair in the ninth with a Jones homer off Preston Guilmet. That inning gave the Blue Jays perhaps their best highlight of the game, as Pillar climbed the centre-field wall to rob Castellanos of another two-run homer – even Castellanos himself applauded the catch.

Game 4: Monday, July 2 (Day game)
Jays lose, 2-3 (10 innings)
Starting Pitcher: Ryan Borucki
Losing Pitcher: Seunghwan Oh

In his first home start, Ryan Borucki escaped a first-inning jam with just one run allowed, despite loading the bases twice. After striking out the first batter of the game, he allowed three consecutive bloop singles that loaded the bases. Victor Martinez singled to bring in a run, but Borucki initiated a double play with a ground ball from the next batter, throwing home to record one out, and Luke Maile fired to first to complete the play.

Mike Fiers dominated the Blue Jays his first time through the order, not allowing a baserunner. He only threw five pitches in the first, and several Jays hit into outs on the first pitch. Curtis Granderson then led off the fourth with a single to shortstop on an 0-2 count. Randal Grichuk doubled, but Granderson didn’t score until Teoscar Hernandez grounded out. That tied the game, but Fiers stranded Grichuk at third and retired seven in a row before issuing a walk to Granderson in the sixth, on his way to an eight-inning, one-run start.

Beginning with the first-inning double play, Borucki retired 13 in a row, a streak which was snapped in the sixth when Mikie Mahtook reached on a swinging bunt up the third-base line that Borucki couldn’t get to in time. Mahtook was out on a force out off the bat of Castellanos, but they couldn’t turn the double play, as Lourdes Gurriel’s throw was too high. Castellanos got to third on a deep single from the next batter, and then scored on another force out.

In the ninth, Solarte took a one-out walk and Devon Travis pinch-ran. Teoscar Hernandez doubled off the left-centre field wall, but Travis was stopped at third. The Tigers opted to intentionally walk Morales. Pillar flew out to shallow left with the bases loaded, but again they held the runner. Justin Smoak pinch hit, and worked a walk to force in the tying run before Maile hit into a force out.

In the 10th, Morales played third base for the first time in his career. Nico Goodrum hit a one-out triple off Seunghwan Oh and scored on a sacrifice fly as the go-ahead run for Detroit. Gurriel led off the bottom of that inning with a single, and Granderson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Gurriel to second, but he wouldn’t advance further. Despite taking three walks (and one IBB) and issuing none, Toronto’s five hits couldn’t top the eight hits from Detroit.

Overall Notes:

If you blinked you would have missed him, but Darnell Sweeney was here for two days. The 27-year-old outfielder was brought up from triple-A Buffalo on Friday after Steve Pearce was traded, then was used as a defensive replacement on Sunday before being sent back down to triple-A. With that move, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made his return to the big club.

The Jays placed Ryan Tepera on the disabled list on Saturday (back-dated to the 28th) with right elbow inflammation and Jake Petricka was brought up in his place.

Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

- Ryan Borucki’s eight strikeouts on Monday tie Roy Halladay for the second-most Ks in a rookie Blue Jay’s first home start. Jose Nunez holds the record with 11.

My favourite player(s) this series: Borucki/Smoak/Stroman

Ryan Borucki struggled in the first inning, but didn’t let that get to him and only allowed one run on four hits. The young starter recovered with an eight-pitch second, then pitched seven innings total without walking anybody. He allowed another run in the sixth, but retired the side in order in his last inning pitched. He struck out eight while allowing six hits.

Justin Smoak started three games, and was used as a pinch-hitter in the fourth. He went 3-for-11 with two home runs, a double, and two walks. He drove in five runs, including the winning run on Saturday, the Jays’ only run in Sunday’s blowout, and the tying run in the ninth inning on Monday (after getting to a 2-2 count, he laid off two borderline pitches to work a bases-loaded walk).

Marcus Stroman took the mound on Friday without having a win to his name this season. He had a 0-5 record, and an ERA of 6.80 so far. He then went six innings with five hits and two runs allowed – and through the sixth, he’d faced just one batter over the minimum. He recorded four strikeouts, and didn’t walk any batters. His ERA for the season has now dropped to 6.02.

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Jay Blue

A lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan, Jay Blue started blogging about the Jays when he was living in Berlin, Germany. He founded his own blog, Blue Jays from Away, to write about developments with his home town team, focusing on the Jays' minor league system. When he's not watching baseball, he is usually on the diamond umpiring or he's pursuing his research interests in the field of ethnomusicology.