By Emily @JaysGirlEmily
Blue Jays from Away
Game 1: Monday, April
JAYS WIN!!!! 4-2
Starting Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Winning Pitcher: Seung-Hwan Oh
Save: Roberto Osuna
Both starters went six innings, both walked a pair, and each allowed a solo home run. Jaime Garcia allowed two more hits than his Chicago counterpart, with four, but also had one more strikeout, with seven. Garcia hit Yolmer Sanchez with a pitch in the third (the call stood on replay), and then Sanchez got to third when Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) made an error trying to throw him out stealing. That worked out in the Jays’ favour, though, because Sanchez was then caught in a rundown between third and home.
In the fourth, Curtis Granderson kept Jose Abreu to a long single, which paid off when the next hitter grounded into a double play. It paid off further to have the bases empty when Welington Castillo hit a home run immediately afterwards. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays didn’t get a hit off Renaldo Lopez until the fifth inning, when Granderson singled. Randal Grichuk took a walk, but a double play ended the inning. It was only the fourth multi-walk game of Grichuk’s career (he’d already been the Jays’ first baserunner, back in the second).
Granderson made another smart play to double off Abreu, who singled in the sixth, then tried to tag up on a fly ball to left field. Granderson threw him out at second easily. Josh Donaldson tied things up with his first home run of the season in the sixth, but Castillo retook the lead for the White Sox with another homer, this time off Seung-Hwan Oh in the seventh.
Granderson then took a walk in the bottom of that inning, and scored when Martin hit his first home run of the year into the home team’s bullpen. The Jays retained their lead through a one-hit, two-strikeout inning from Ryan Tepera, and Aledmys Diaz added some insurance with a leadoff homer in the eighth. Roberto Osuna needed just eight pitches (all strikes) to set down the side and secure the save.
Game 2: Tuesday, April 3
JAYS WIN!!!!! 14-5
Winning Pitcher: J.A. Happ
After a few wins in which the Jays had to come back late from a deficit, their bats turned on in a big way on Tuesday. It wasn’t the tidiest of games, with two hit batters and three errors. Aledmys Diaz had to leave the game after the sixth due to back spasms, but not before he’d collected three hits and three RBI. J.A. Happ, earning the first win for a Jays starter, lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowed four runs on seven hits (two of them solo homers) and got nine strikeouts.
The first of those runs was when Nicky Delmonico plated a Tim Anderson leadoff single in the second, but Happ got a pair of strikeouts to strand two. Luke Maile led off the bottom of the third with a double, and Diaz homered for the second consecutive game to put the Jays ahead, 2-1. Later that same inning, Justin Smoak walked, advanced to third on a single, and scored when Anderson dropped a Randal Grichuk grounder with two outs.
Anderson brought the White Sox to within a run with a fourth-inning homer, but the Jays broke out for a three-run inning thanks to a Kevin Pillar leadoff single, a Diaz RBI double (he got thrown out trying to stretch a triple), a Curtis Granderson triple, and a Josh Donaldson home run. The back-and-forth wasn’t over, however. Avisail Garcia homered in the fifth, making it 6-3. In the sixth, Anderson scored for the third time after he singled and stole two bases. His was the final run charged to Happ. The Jays got that run back when Diaz got a single of his own, moved into scoring position on a fly out, then scored on a Donaldson single off the left-field wall. Tyler Clippard allowed one more run, a Yolmer Sanchez homer in the seventh.
After Hector Santiago pitched two innings, walked Gift Ngoepe and Ngoepe scored on a Granderson double, Gregory Infante was brought in by the White Sox with one out in the eighth. Infante faced six batters and only got one out – and even that out (a Grichuk sac fly with the bases loaded) brought in a run. Infante allowed two doubles, a single, a walk and an intentional walk to Yangervis Solarte. All five runners scored, including two on a Maile double after Infante left the game.
Both teams had hits in the double-digits, with 10 for the White Sox and 15 for the Jays. The key difference was that only three of the Chicago hits were for extra bases (all solo homers). The Jays had 10 extra-base hits among seven hitters. Eight of their starting lineup (everybody except Solarte) had RBI, and eight of them scored.
Game 3: Wednesday, April 4
Jays lose, 3-4
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Losing Pitcher: Ryan Tepera
This game got off to a slow start – aside from a Matt Davidson homer in the second inning, there wasn’t much action on the basepaths until the fourth. Justin Smoak led off the home half of that inning with a double that clanked off center fielder Adam Engel’s glove. He moved to third when Curtis Granderson hit a double which also was dropped by an outfielder, then scored on a Russell Martin groundout.
Aaron Sanchez was dealing through the third and fourth, with seven consecutive batters retired at one point. Then he allowed a leadoff walk in the fifth, and a single to Yolmer Sanchez. After a strikeout, he hit Engel to load the bases with one out. The next batter hit a fly ball to left, and Granderson leapt up to catch it – then it didn’t go in his glove, but he caught it with his body before it hit the ground. He threw the ball back into third base, but the runner hadn’t moved. Originally called an out, on replay it became obvious that the ball had hit the wall. After a lengthy delay, they decided to award each of the runners one base, so the run scored and the bases remained loaded with one out. Sanchez hit another batter, bringing in another run, on the next pitch. Then he finally got a double play to end it.
The Blue Jays put the replay mishap behind them, racking up two runs on four hits in the sixth - including a pinch-hit Steve Pearce RBI single on the first pitch. It might have been three runs, had Smoak not been thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice. Kendrys Morales got the other RBI, his first of the season, with a double.
Ryan Tepera pitched the eighth inning for the Jays (Sanchez had left after six innings, with five hits, three earned runs, two walks and seven strikeouts) and allowed a go-ahead home run to Jose Abreu. Tepera also hit another batter, but the Jays turned their fourth double play of the game to erase it. The Blue Jays couldn’t even get a baserunner over the last three innings of the game, although they did have a lot of deep fly outs.
One of the White Sox coaches (Daryl Boston) has a whistle he uses to get his fielders’ attention, or encourage them after a good play. Josh Donaldson used to play on a team Boston coached, and knew about the whistle. As a joke, during Monday’s game, Boston blew the whistle when Donaldson came up to bat. Donaldson then shouted something into the White Sox dugout after he grounded out in the first inning. Boston blew it again before Donaldson’s sixth-inning at-bat. Donaldson then went yard. After touching home plate, he turned to the visitor’s dugout and mimed blowing a whistle.
It was heavily discussed, both in the sports media and on Twitter, but Boston and the White Sox dugout found it funny. So, on Tuesday, Donaldson walked up to the plate to a song called – what else? – “Blow the Whistle”.
(Oh yeah, then he homered again). With that, he has home runs in five consecutive games against the White Sox. The last time that happened was nearly 40 years ago.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
This is only the fourth time in team history that the Blue Jays hit home runs in the first six games of the season. The longest streak was nine games in 1994.
My Favourite Player(s) This Series: Donaldson/Diaz/Garcia
As already mentioned, Josh Donaldson homered in the first two games of this series. All told, he was 4-for-11 with two home runs, two walks, four runs scored, and four driven in. He also resumed his duties at third base on Tuesday after having ‘dead arm’ issues in the first series. He didn’t appear to be 100% back to normal, but he did start a double play and made a few hard throws across the diamond.
Aledmys Diaz broke out in the two games he played this series, hitting his first homer of the year on Monday and then following it up with another the next day. He was also perfect at the plate on Tuesday, with three RBI and two runs scored (also a triple shy of the cycle!) before he had to be removed.
I think it’s safe to say Jaime Garcia’s first start of the year was a pleasant surprise. The first time through the order, he was only one of two starters to go six innings (Marco Estrada was the other) and he only allowed a single run, on two walks and four hits. He also picked up seven strikeouts. I’ll take that every time from the fifth starter!
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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!