Game 1: Thursday, May 11
JAYS WIN!! 7-2
Winning Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Things looked grim right away when Marco Estrada gave up a double and a two-run home run to Nelson Cruz in the 1st. The Blue Jays took one back on three hits in the bottom half of the inning, then Estrada shut it down for the next five innings. He struck out eight, and allowed only one hit and three walks after that first inning, stranding a runner per inning in the 3rd-6th.
Chase De Jong started for the Mariners, and allowed four hits and a walk over the first four innings. But the Jays got to him in the 5th, when a 2-out rally led to five straight runs – Kevin Pillar walked, Ezequiel Carrera singled, Jose Bautista walked to load the bases, Justin Smoak singled to score a pair, giving the Jays the lead. Then the next batter, Steve Pearce, hit a three-run homer. Smoak added on a solo home run (his sixth of the year) in the 7th. That brought the Jays lead to 7-2 and gave him 4 RBI on the night, as he had also driven in the run in the 1st inning. Five players combined for nine hits, but only two (Smoak and Pearce) had runs batted in. Three – Carrera, Smoak, and Devon Travis – had multi-hit games.
Game 2: Friday, May 12
JAYS WIN!! 4-0
Winning Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Joe Biagini made his second career start and didn’t allow a run in over 5.0 innings. He gave up a leadoff single and a double in the 3rd, but stranded both. He allowed just two more hits – a Danny Valencia double in the 4th, and a leadoff single in the 6th – before being taken out of the game. He struck out three, and didn’t walk anybody. After his departure from the game, Aaron Loup, Danny Barnes, Ryan Tepera and Roberto Osuna combined for 4.0 scoreless innings. Barnes was the only reliever to allow a baserunner – Seattle tagged him for three singles over 1.1 innings – but he also struck out three.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the 2nd when Steve Pearce led off with a single, advanced on a Ryan Goins single and a Darwin Barney sacrifice bunt, and then Devon Travis scored him with a groundout. Kevin Pillar led off the 3rd inning with a single, and then Jose Bautista hit his fourth home run of the year off the left-field foul pole to put them ahead 3-0. Travis had two RBI in the game without getting a hit – he also had a sac fly in the 6th. All told, the Blue Jays had ten hits and one walk.
Seattle starter Ryan Weber left the game after 3.2 innings with an arm injury. To that point, he’d allowed one run on two hits in the 3rd. Marcus Stroman allowed two runs – both late in his outing – on eight hits and two walks. Stroman also struck out nine, and helped turn a double play in the 5th. Both teams used stolen bases to their advantage – the Mariners had two in the game, and one of them helped move Jarrod Dyson into scoring position in the 5th, when he would eventually come around to score the first Mariners run and tie it 1-1. A stolen base by Kevin Pillar had helped the Blue Jays score their first run in the 3rd. Dyson drove in the second Seattle run in the 6th to take the lead.
Kendrys Morales tied things in the bottom half with his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot to center field. The Jays stranded a pair that inning, then got three runs on three hits – including a 3-run Jose Bautista bomb – off Nick Vincent in the 7th.
In the 8th, the Jays got in on some more stolen base action. Ryan Goins led off with a single, Devon Travis reached on an error, and Luke Maile was hit with a pitch, loading the bases. Pillar scored Goins with a sac fly, moving Travis to third, and then with two outs Maile second, drawing the throw from catcher Carlos Ruiz, and Travis scored on the double steal.
Travis had this to say postgame about the unusual play:
Devon Travis on the double steal he pulled off with Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile in the eighth inning: pic.twitter.com/rD8L5sNcK7
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) May 13, 2017
Game 4: Sunday, May 14
JAYS WIN!! 3-2 (walkoff!)
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Winning Pitcher: Ryan Tepera
Aaron Sanchez made his return from his second stint on the DL related to a blister/fingernail issue on his pitching hand. He threw five innings, allowing five hits and two walks, and no earned runs. His lone, unearned run came in the 5th when Carlos Ruiz was on base and Jean Segura doubled to right field. Jose Bautista’s throw hit Segura as he was sliding into second base, and the ball bounced into left. Ruiz ran home and Segura got to third on the error.
The Blue Jays had seven hits and took three walks, but all of their runs came on the longball. In the 6th, Justin Smoak dumped a 1-2 slider from James Pazos behind the wall in left center field, bringing in a Jose Bautista, who had walked. That gave the Jays the lead, but Jarrod Dyson, who’d been a thorn in the Jays’ side all week defensively, tied it with a solo shot of his own in the 7th off Dominic Leone. Ryan Tepera entered the game with two outs in the 7th, and set down seven straight batters, including two strikeouts.
Despite getting two runners on with one out in the 8th, the Blue Jays couldn’t score until the 9th. That’s when Kevin Pillar came up, with two outs, and blasted a no-doubter to end things and secure the sweep.
The Blue Jays’ lineup is obviously depleted due to injuries, but they took advantage of a Mariners team who’s struggling with some injuries of their own. 4/5ths of Seattle’s starting rotation is hurt as, is All-Star Robinson Cano.
Steve Pearce left Game 4 in the 2nd inning after sliding into second base on a double. It was announced prior to Monday’s game against Atlanta that he would be joining his teammates on the DL, with a leg injury.
It might not feel like it, but their record (17-21) is actually the same as their record at this point in 2015. That season turned out all right! They’ve just been much streakier this year.
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- This is the first time in team history that the Blue Jays have swept the Mariners in a four-game series.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Pillar/Bautista/Biagini
Kevin Pillar scored at least one run in every game – six runs in total. He went 7-for-14 (.500) in the series, including a three-hit performance on Friday, drove in two, and took three walks. His home run in the 9th inning on Sunday won them the game, and secured the sweep. In addition to his great weekend with the bat, he made a crucial running catch on Sunday which prevented at least one run from scoring, possibly two. At the time, it kept the game scoreless.
Jose Bautista also scored in every game of the series, as well a driving in five with a pair of home runs. He walked three times and also doubled, but the home runs were especially crucial as the one on Friday widened the lead, and the one on Saturday broke a 2-2 tie late in the game.
Joe Biagini has now pitched 9 innings as a starter, and has yet to allow an earned run. Again hampered by a pitch count, he only went 5 innings, but the first two innings in this outing were perfect, and he only allowed four hits total. He threw 68 pitches (47 for strikes), struck out three, and didn’t allow a walk.
Where We Are Now:
Last in the AL East, 6.5 games back of New York
The bad news is they’ve now also lost Pearce to injury, farther depleting their lineup.
The good news is they swept the series!! They’ve won three series in a row, and eight of their last ten games! For the first time all year, their win percentage begins with a 4! Sanchez is back, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin are making enough progress to be returning soon, and the backups have been doing an incredible job in the meantime!
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