Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Well that felt pretty damn good — and was just sitting on my couch watching it! I can only imagine what it must feel like for Russell Martin, who, in the bottom of the ninth, stung a ball to deep right field that cashed the winning run for a second straight Blue Jays walk-off victory.
Martin also had a seeing eye single in the seventh, a hit last night, and has now struck out just once in his last twelve plate appearances — which, considering that he had a 46.3% strikeout rate heading into those 12 PA, is a genuine accomplishment (small sample caveats not withstanding). He more than doubled his wRC+ on the season tonight! From… uh… 8 to 17.
So, OK, he’s not out of the woods yet, but it was progress. And a win.
A damn win! A damn win that required the bullpen, and Drew Storen in particular (because obviously Roberto Osuna was going to be nails), to keep the Rangers off the board. A damn win that could have badly gone off the rails for Aaron Sanchez a couple of times early on, but didn’t.
A damn win that… well… as John Gibbons was saying the other night, if they can hang in and keep picking up wins with their offence as dormant as it currently has been, you can feel pretty good about how things will go once the hitters really get hot.
Some stray observations (briefly):
Edwin Encarnacion hit a towering two-run home run to tie the game in the sixth, and while it wasn’t exactly a no-doubt laser beam, it sure was good to see. He hasn’t been as horrific as some of his teammates, so his struggles have flown a little more under the radar, but his wRC+ was raised noticeably tonight, as well: from 86 to 97 — which is still a long way off what is expected of him, but at least you feel like he’s maybe starting to get there.
Troy Tulowitzki, on the other hand? Not so much, and his frustration showed after one of the three fly balls (two of which didn’t leave the infield) that he hit for outs today. He also grounded into an out. Even if we never see early-2014 Tulo again (when he was legitimately in the conversation as being potentially 1b to Mike Trout’s 1a as the best player in baseball) he’s not this bad.
Jose Bautista had another strikeout he wasn’t happy about, which… he’s Jose Bautista. Whatever. He also had an RBI single and a walk, which… again, he’s Jose Bautista. The strikeout thing is interesting, though. His rate so far is high for him — 21.8% when he hasn’t been below 16% in any of the previous four seasons — and so I guess it plays into the “Blue Jays are striking out too much narrative,” but… it’s Bautista. He’ll be fine.
The Rangers’ lefties at the top of the lineup, Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara, did indeed do some damage to Aaron Sanchez, but that might not be because of the whole left-handed boogeyman thing I keep trying make stick (for some reason), but because they’re just really fucking good.
Hard to say anything negative about what Sanchez did in this one. He pitched like a veteran, with the way he settled down after a shaky start. Granted, your typical veteran isn’t blessed with the kind of stuff that he has, but still. To come out of that with a line of seven hits and three walks over seven innings is pretty impressive, especially considering that six of those hits came in the first two innings, and that he was at 47 pitches through three innings.
Before the game, according to a tweet from Scott MacArthur, Brett Cecil said that he notices when he gets booed — as he was on Tuesday night by the home crowd — that it doesn’t affect him, but the he won’t say it doesn’t bother him. “Jesus, for almost 10 years of my life I’ve put everything I’ve had into this organization,” he added. It’s OK to think before you boo instead of doing it as a reflex at anything and everything that makes your pants wet, y’know?