Josh Donaldson helped cement his spot as the favorite for the AL MVP with not only his walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, but his heads up play to tag Mikie Mahtook trying to get back to third base. As for the home run that ended the game, it was Donaldson’s third walk-off home run of the season and it’s his seventh of their career.
Kevin Pillar has had a great homestand at the plate, as he collected two more hits including a game tying double in the eighth inning. In Pillar’s last five days alone he has had a WPA of 1.137 and with all the other sluggers on this team Pillar’s offensive numbers this week have for the most part flown under the radar. Pillar almost made another amazing diving grab in the first inning on Brandon Guyer’s lead off triple.
Justin Smoak had himself a day, he was 3 for 4 at the plate he had double in the first inning to drive in the first Jays run and his two run shot in the sixth inning set the table for the comeback.
Mark Buerhle didn’t have his best stuff today but was able to last six innings and keep the Blue Jays in the game. It was most likely his final home start as a Blue Jay. Buehrle is smart enough to know that he might not be on the playoff roster and he even said after the game that the Jays should put whoever is throwing the best on the playoff roster and not what they have done. During his three years with the Blue Jays he has been a mentor to the young pitchers on the team and has been one of the team leaders, he has also pitched well during his time as a Blue Jay. It should not also be lost on people that for the three years he has pitched in Toronto he has done so with his wife and kids at home in the US to stay with the family pit bulls because of Ontario’s pitbull ban. That in itself deserves some major props.
Sunday was the Blue Jays 27th sellout as they reached a season total of 2,784,891 they averaged 34,504 per game it was their highest attendance since 1995. They had 36 games of 40k plus and 53 games of 30k plus.
The StrowShow was well worth the price of admission on Wednesday night. Marcus Stroman’s start against the Yankees was arguably the biggest game of the year, or 22 years if you want to get technical, and with all the hype and expectations Stroman lived up to his StroShow billing as he pitched seven shutout innings allowing five hits striking out five while only walking one. Stroman made it look easy at times as his slider was excellent and he used it early and often. For a team that didn’t have an Ace in July it’s safe to say now they have two of them.
With Stroman’s return it undoubtedly gave the Blue Jays yet another Ace for their rotation and to me the way Stroman has pitched in his three starts he definitely will be on the potential playoff roster and to be totally honest my playoff rotation would look like Price for game one, Stroman for game two, Dickey in game three and Buehrle for game four. I would use Marco Estrada as the swing man out of the pen. The only reason I would do that is because Estrada has done that in the past, meanwhile Buehrle hasn’t worked out of the pen since 2000.
Russell Martin hit arguably the biggest home run this season for the Blue Jays as his three run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning iced the game away. Martin has definitely been worth every penny that he is getting paid this year, from working with the pitching staff to coming up with timely home runs. His postseason experience will come in handy for the Blue Jays this October.
Brett Cecil worked a scoreless eighth inning and has easily become the Blue Jays most reliable reliever and has recorded some pretty huge outs for the Blue Jays, none bigger than his three strikeouts in Monday’s win over the Yankees. Cecil who had his rough patch in June, has been an absolute beast since then, and his curveball may be the filthiest in all of baseball.
Alex Anthopoulos acquired David Price for games just like tonight. And like every other start since he became a Blue Jay he did not disappoint. Price was dominant as he pitched seven shutout innings he allowed only two hits walking one while striking out seven. The only inning that the Yankees threatened when Price pitched was the third inning when Price escaped a bases loaded one out jam by striking out Alex Rodriguez and getting Brian McCann to pop out.
The Blue Jays were able to take advantage of Adam Warren and his Yankee teammates miscues in the first inning as they plated three runs in the first inning. Ben Revere led off the inning with a single, Josh Donaldson was hit with a pitch, Jose Bautista would hit a single to plate Revere, Donaldson and Bautista would move up on a wild pitch. Donaldson would score on a Encarnacion ground out. Justin Smoak would hit a double which would cash in Bautista. The Blue Jays offence would stay quiet until the seventh when they would add a run on a Russell Martin Sac Fly.
John Gibbons wasn’t messing around tonight as he pulled Aaron Sanchez after allowing the first two hitters to reach in the eighth inning. Brett Cecil was brilliant yet again, after allowing a single to Jacoby Ellsbury he struck out Brett Gardner, Rodriguez and McCann. I thought with the lefty heavy lineup that Gibby would have started the inning with Cecil. It does bring up the question though, is it time to re-evaluate Sanchez’s role in the bullpen? He may have gotten slightly unlucky on the groundball up the middle, but walking the first hitter he faced and then falling behind to Ackley didn’t help. With the way Mark Lowe has been pitching it is time to move him into higher leverage situations.
Roberto Osuna had a bounce back effort even though he did allow a home run in the ninth. I wouldn’t be to worried about it unlike some of the media members in Toronto that seemed to be awfully worried about the amount of home runs that Osuna has allowed. There have only been the two home runs that cost the Jays the lead , the other home runs didn’t matter to the outcome of the game.
The good news is the Red Sox are leaving town and the Blue Jays will not have to see them again till next April.
The bad news, the Sox took two of three games from the Blue Jays this weekend.
Today it was defensive miscues that cost the Blue Jays as they committed three errors on the day, two of which were committed by pitchers and the third one they could have easily ruled a hit. Mark Buehrle had a throwing error in the fourth inning on a play where he would have been better off holding onto the ball, chances are the run would have scored later in the inning instead of scoring on the throwing error. The error that did cost the Jays was Brett Cecil’s fielding error in the eighth inning on Pablo Sandoval’s grounder. Cecil rushed to make the play and in the end didn’t end up making the play at all. Sandoval would later score on a sac-fly off of Mark Lowe.
There are some positives to take away from what was a disappointing weekend. The starting pitching looked good. Marcus Stroman was brilliant on Friday night, R.A Dickey pitched well enough to win and deserved a better fate than what he was dealt, and perhaps the most encouraging news was Mark Buehrle’s outing wasn’t all that bad. Buehrle had a Buehrle type outing he had some unfortunate bounces go against him but he was able to go six innings and he kept the Blue Jays in the game.
Dioner Navarro who came into the game swinging a hot bat recently got the Jays offence on the board with a two run home run in the second inning. How many Blue Jays fans are happy that Alex Anthopoulos didn’t trade him during the season? He’s become awfully valuable to the Blue Jays this season. I mean really, if the Jays had moved Navarro the Jays would have been stuck with Josh Thole.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Blue Jays not scoring the tying run in the bottom of the ninth was not getting to see how the Blue Jays infield defence would have looked in the tenth inning. With Ryan Goins, Cliff Pennington and Darwin Barney all out of the game the Jays came awfully close to using Russell Martin at second, Martin, however was taken out for a pinch runner. John Gibbons admitted that the infield defence in the tenth would have been Munenori Kawasaki at second, Josh Donaldson at short and Jose Bautista would have come into play third base. How much fun would that have been to watch?
The Blue Jays did get one step closer to clinching a playoff berth despite the loss as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Los Angeles Angels. The Magic number to clinch a playoff spot is now down to five games.
The Blue Jays are going to catch a break for this upcoming series with the Yankees as Masahiro Tanaka has been scratched from Wednesday’s start with a hamstring strain. Ivan Nova, who the Jays crushed in New York last week will start in his place.
Well, that felt like a kick in the gut.
These emotions go along with the time of year, it’s what happens in a pennant race. You win some, you lose some. It’s all apart of the process, enjoy it for what it is because for the last 22 years you weren’t able to say that the Blue Jays were in a pennant race.
The biggest thing is how does a team and more importantly Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez bounce back from this. Sanchez who suffered the loss in Tuesday nights game pitched a scoreless inning in last nights game, so take from it what you will. Osuna, who bounced back nicely from blowing a save at the end of August, and had looked really good his last few outings should be fine as well. Remember, he has pitched in many big spots and has come up big. It’s one game, better they have a game like this now instead of against the Yankees or in a playoff game.
The other thing to take away from the loss was the fight to the end that the Blue Jays put up. It would have been easy to throw in the towel but thanks to a Jose Bautista two run homer and a Matt Hague pinch hit double hit to the deepest part of the ball park the Blue Jays had the tying run in scoring position at the end of the game.
Really like the way John Gibbons managed the game today, yeah it didn’t work out but sometimes that is going to happen. Although maybe next time he brings Sanchez in to a game maybe the bases should be empty, Sanchez hasn’t done a great job of stranding inherited runners. Some of the comments I read after the game about Gibby from the so called Bandwagon fans were annoying, some calling for Gibby’s head.
I suppose a game like this points out the lack of another left handed pitcher that can be used in a high leverage spot. It would have been nice if Gibby could have gone to a left hander to face David Ortiz in the ninth inning instead of using Sanchez there. But when your only left handed options are Aaron Loup and Jeff Francis in that spot then you stick with Sanchez. Remember Sanchez is a young pitcher and as he gains experience he will only get better. I still think he is better served being used out of the bullpen than in the rotation, I said it last winter and I’m still sticking to that statement now.
Lastly, to all the fans that were overreacting to the loss today, relax, it’s one game. It’s late in September and the Jays are up 3.5 in the AL East and have a magic number of six! And this team is a ton of fun to watch as well.
Marcus Stroman made his highly anticipated home debut tonight and didn’t disappoint as he allowed a run on six hits in seven innings of work he walked a batter while striking out three. In the inning that the Red Sox did score their run they had two bloop hits and infield single and a sac-fly so it’s not like they had hard hit balls that led to their lone run. The defense behind Stroman tonight was once again top notch as they turned 2 double plays to get out of innings and the only blip on the night defensively was a Justin Smoak error on a ground ball.
The crowd tonight was electric and was just as loud as they were for David Price’s debut start with the Jays last month. Honestly though the crowds have been amazing the last month and a half and with the Blue Jays magic number to clinch a playoff spot down to seven I can only imagine what the crowd reaction will be when they do clinch a playoff spot during the homestand.
The Blue Jay bats didn’t hit a home run tonight which is hasn’t happened much this season, they did however pounce on Red Sox mistakes. With a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, Edwin Encarnacion hit what should have been a double play to third baseman Brock Holt. Holt had the ball go off his glove and go into left field. The next batter Justin Smoak would hit a two run double and Ryan Goins would bring Smaok in when he hit a triple making it a 4-0 game.
Perhaps one of Alex Anthopoulos most important acquisitions wasn’t made at the deadline. Cliff Pennington was picked up during the Blue Jays early August series in New York and ever since he’s been a Blue Jay he has come up with great defence and some timely clutch hitting and more importantly professional at bats. Pennington in his first plate appearance had a sac bunt up the third baseline allowing Kevin Pillar to advance to third base, and in his at bat in the sixth inning he hit a sac-fly to score Ryan Goins with the Blue Jays sixth run. What’s been even more impressive is how he has contributed to the line-up playing everyday while Troy Tulowitzki is out.
John Gibbons used Aaron Sanchez in the ninth inning with a five run lead, it did seem like an odd move to use your set up man in that spot but I do kind of see the reasoning behind the move. Much like using Roberto Osuna in the ninth last night in Atlanta, Gibby probably wanted to get Sanchez some work since he hadn’t pitched since Tuesday’s loss in Atlanta. And if they need to go to someone in then pen tomorrow to set-up they could again use Sanchez or use Mark Lowe, who has been seeing more outings in higher leverage spots in which he has passed with flying colours.