Game 1: Tuesday, June 27
Jays lose, 1-3
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini
The Jays only had one fewer hit than their opponent (six; to Baltimore’s seven) but they were shut out for 8.2 straight innings by Kevin Gausman and his bullpen. The Orioles opened the scoring against Joe Biagini in the 1st with a two-out rally that culminated in Mark Trumbo driving in a pair of runs with a double. Jose Bautista led off the bottom half with a single, but was erased with a double play. Another double play (a strikeout of Kendrys Morales and a caught stealing on Justin Smoak) erased a leadoff walk in the 2nd.
The third and final run for Baltimore came in the 3rd, again with two outs. Jonathan Schoop doubled, then Adam Jones drove him in. Biagini stranded a pair of walks in the 4th, got a double play in the 5th, then left the game after a one-out single in the 6th. Meanwhile, two Blue Jay singles led to nothing in the 5th, and Morales struck out swinging to strand the bases loaded in the 6th.
After Dominic Leone took over from Biagini, it was smooth sailing for the Toronto bullpen. Leone struck out two and allowed one walk in an inning and a third, Ryan Tepera threw the 8th and allowed a double but stranded it, as well as recording a strikeout. Chris Smith made his major-league debut in the 9th and got a pop out, a flyout, a Craig Gentry single and another pop out. Smith threw thirteen pitches, nine of which were strikes. Troy Tulowitzki scored the only Jays run of the game, with a two-out solo shot off Brad Brach in the 9th.
Game 2: Wednesday, June 28
JAYS WIN!!! 4-0
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman earned his eighth win of the season with a dominant shutout performance. Pitching into the 8th, he allowed five hits and got eight strikeouts. The Orioles singled in each of the first three innings – though one was erased on a double play – but none would score. Jose Bautista gave Toronto the lead with a leadoff home run in the 1st, a lead they would never relinquish. Troy Tulowitzki hit into a double play in the 2nd, then attempted to start one of his own but it was overturned and ruled a forceout. Bautista then hit into another, erasing a Darwin Barney.
It was the 4th inning before the Jays bats picked up some steam against Wade Miley. Justin Smoak led off the inning with his twenty-first home run of the season, establishing a new career high. Kendrys Morales followed up with a walk, then Steve Pearce hit a one-out single. Morales was held at third when Kevin Pillar also singled (and again when a ball in the dirt got away from the catcher Caleb Joseph). With two outs, Morales was finally able to run home as Bautista hit into a fielder’s choice.
Paul Janish, the shortstop, fielded the ball, and threw to Schoop at second base but Pillar was already at the bag and was therefore safe. Though Schoop then threw to first, Trey Mancini dropped the ball and Bautista, too, was safe. Morales and Pearce both scored on the play to put Toronto up 4-0. The error was assigned to Schoop.
Stroman didn’t walk anyone until the 5th, but that was his only walk of the game. He got four strikeouts between the 6th and 8th innings, leaving the game in Danny Barnes’ hands with two outs and Seth Smith aboard after a single in the 8th. Barnes walked Manny Machado, but struck out Schoop to end the threat. Roberto Osuna threw the 9th and mowed down the heart of the Orioles order – Jones, Trumbo and Mancini – with a trio of strikeouts.
Game 3: Thursday, June 29
Jays lose, 0-2
Losing Pitcher: J.A. Happ
For the second game in this series, the Blue Jays were shut out by the Orioles starter. This time, it was Ubaldo Jimenez who allowed two hits in 8.0 innings. Both hits were two-out doubles – one from Ryan Goins in the 3rd, the other by Kevin Pillar in the 8th. Troy Tulowitzki also worked a walk in the 5th against the right-hander.
J.A. Happ surrendered two runs on eight hits over 6.1 innings – A 3rd-inning Ruben Tejada leadoff single scored after a double and a Jonathan Schoop sac fly, then after Schoop was thrown out by Ezequiel Carrera in the 6th, Adam Jones singled, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on a Caleb Joseph single. Happ struck out two in his start, and walked two. Kevin Pillar prevented farther damage when he slammed into the wall for a catch in the 7th inning off the bat of Tejada.
Russell Martin singled with one out in the 9th off of Brad Brach but was stranded on base after Josh Donaldson struck out and Justin Smoak flew out to end the game. The Jays’ bullpen threw 2.2 hitless innings, with Dominic Leone striking out a pair in an inning and two-thirds, and Ryan Tepera getting one strikeout in his inning of work.
Jason Grilli was designated for assignment prior to the start of this series. In a corresponding move, Ezequiel Carrera returned from the Disabled List. Dwight Smith Jr. was also optioned back to the Buffalo Bisons; reliever Chris Smith was called up in his place (and fill their apparent quota of one Smith on the active roster at any given time).
Weirdly Specific Record Alert:
- The 21 home runs Justin Smoak has hit this year (a new career high for him) is the most ever by a Blue Jays switch-hitter prior to the All-Star Break.
My Favourite Player(s) of the week: Stroman
Marcus Stroman gave the bullpen a bit of a break with his 7.2-inning shutout performance. He only walked one batter, and allowed just five hits, all singles. He also struck out eight – interestingly, Baltimore’s number nine hitter (Paul Janish) was the only batter in the game not to strike out against Stroman.
Where We Are Now:
Last in the AL East, 6.5 games back of Boston
The bad news is, they keep losing games within their division and that will only hurt them, with more coming up.
The good news is, Justin Smoak might make the All-Star team! Never would have expected Smoak to be a highlight of this season, but I digress.
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