Game Threat: Facing a Familiar Foe in David Price, Blue Jays (5-6) vs. Red Sox (5-4)

In my mind, this is the best time of the year. The weather is nice, everybody seems generally more pleasant, and we can go outside and enjoy the sun as it stays up well into the evening. Of course, we don’t actually have to go outside, especially considering the quality and quantity of sports filling the television right now. There’s the first round of the NHL and the NBA Playoffs, and sprinkled in the middle, there’s a Blue Jays and Red Sox game at Fenway Park marking the first time David Price will face his former team since he signed in Boston in free agency.  

Usually, I would see an opposing David Price start on the calendar and think “oh dammit, I’m not looking forward to that.” But after Price endeared himself to the city of Toronto by playing a key role in helping the Jays to their first American League East crown in over two decades, this game has a lot more to it than it usually would. 

Yesterday

Last night’s game in Boston was one of those ones that just didn’t go Toronto’s way from the beginning. 

R.A. Dickey was cruising through the first inning, getting Mookie Betts to line out and Dustin Pedroia to hit into a grounder, but things started to go south pretty quickly. Zander Bogaerts hit a two-out single on an 0-2 count, David Ortiz followed suit by clubbing a double to right. Then Hanley Ramirez struck out, which should have ended the inning with a 1-0 Boston lead, but the ball got by Josh Thole, setting the table for Travis Shaw to kick both Ortiz and Ramirez in with a double to centre field. 

Dickey ended up going four-and-two-thirds, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks. He collected three strikeouts, and also kept the ball in the park all night, but struggled pretty hard overall as the Red Sox were able to pick up on his knuckleball despite the fact it was dancing around quite a bit. Dickey was relieved by Pat Venditte, Joe Biagini, and Jesse Chavez.

Venditte got the final out of the fifth inning on a popup after Dickey was pulled, but then got himself intro trouble in the sixth, allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning. Biagini came in to mop it up, allowing one of Venditte’s runners to score, but ultimately managed to navigate through two taxing innings without giving up an earned run of his own. Then finally, Chavez had a clean eighth with two strikeouts. 

Overall, the pitching wasn’t very memorable. Dickey had a typical early season Dickey start, which is something we should all expect by now. As bad as he is right now, I’m confident he’ll make up for it in July and August when things start to click for him. Chavez’s inning was excellent, Biagini wasn’t great, but I was impressed at his ability to keep cool under pressure against the Red Sox hitters, and Venditte, well, he faced three batters and allowed two hits, so, yeah. 

But if you thought the pitching was poor, you should have seen the offence. The Jays bats got completely shut down by Rick Porcello, as he literally threw a no-hitter aside from Edwin Encarnacion. The Jays only managed three runs, and they came on a solo home run from Edwin in the second inning, and a two-run bomb in the seventh. Other than that, the highlight of Toronto’s offence was two runners on in the ninth inning against Craig Kimbrel, but the dominant cover shut it down with a strikeout of Justin Smoak. 

Obviously getting three hits and two walks in a game is really, really bad for an offence of this calibre, but the alarming thing here is the fact the struck out 12 times as a team. If they were getting balls in play and things just weren’t bouncing the right way, then sure, that’s just how baseball works sometimes. But striking out at this rate is a little alarming.

News and Scuttlebutt

In Buffalo, Dalton Pompey is off to a good start. Here’s an article from the Buffalo News talking about how he’s relaxed, feeling good, and that he has a four-game hitting streak going. 

Speaking of Pompey, Alex Vanderlaan from Jays Journal wrote about who’s hot and who’s not in terms of Blue Jays prospects. And as you might guesses, Pompey is the one featured as hot. He also talked about Rowdy Tellez, Jesus Montero, Richard Urena, D.J. Davis, and more. 

Here’s a cool hype video put out by Sportsnet called #StageSix featuring Marcus Stroman. It always amazes me at much better their Jays/MLB coverage and product is than their NHL stuff. 

From Jays Nation, if you haven’t read Stoeten’s thing about Stephen Brooks yet, you should do that now. Also, John Lott has an excellent piece over at VICE about Marcus Stroman and his sinker. 

I mentioned Dickey being bad right now, but him inevitably making up for it later. Keegan Matheson put it perfectly: 

I love Gibby’s bullpen call for Pat Venditte. I’m not sure if it looks like he;s trying to calm everyone down, or if he’s simply the life of the party. Regardless, this isn’t going to get old. 

Today 

It’s the battle of the aces! Former Jays ace (and current Red Sox ace) David Price, and the Blue Jays’ own ACEstrada!

If the jays had a rough go of it with Rick Porcello last night, it really doesn’t get any easier today when David Price takes the mound. Over his career, Price  has absolutely dominated the Jays. He owns a 16-2 career record, a 2.41 earned run average, strikes out 7.8 per nine innings, and had a WHIP just above one in 145.2 innings of work against Toronto. So, uh, yeah, newsflash, Price is really good. Obviously these guys know just as well as anybody, considering they got front row seats to his excellent performance in Toronto down the stretch last season.

The Jays will counter with Marco Estrada, who will look to repeat the dominant gem he tosses against Boston last weekend. Estrada went seven innings against the Sox and Rogers Centre, surrendering zero runs on five hits, while striking out four. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m expecting a pitcher’s duel. 

TV: SNET, FS1, MLB.tv

Radio: SN590

Tomorrow: Blue Jays @ Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. ET. 

Blue Jays

Kevin Pillar (R) CF

Josh Donaldson (R) 3B

Jose Bautista (R) RF

Edwin Encarnacion (R) DH

Troy Tulowitzki (R) SS

Chris Colabello (R) 1B

Russell Martin (R) C

Darwin Barney (R) 2B

Ezequiel Carrera (L) LF

Red Sox 

Mookie Betts (R) RF

Dustin Pedroia (R) 2B

Xander Bogaerts (R) SS

David Ortiz (L) DH

Hanley Ramirez (R) 1B

Travis Shaw (L) 3B

Brock Holt (L) LF

Christian Vazquez (R) C

Jackie Bradley (L) CF