In what appeared to be the most winnable of the three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend, the Blue Jays’ bats struggled, and their relievers failed to protect the one-run lead that they managed to claw their way to in the late innings.
It’s easy to look at this one and immediately whine about Drew Storen, and, well, the relievers in general being terrible, but you probably aren’t going to win many games if your offence can only muster five hits.
Let’s start with Marco Estrada, who was brilliant today. First and foremost, his uniform, specifically his shoes, were absolutely gorgeous. I usually don’t really like the pink stuff that teams rock on Mother’s Day, but these uniforms were really nice. And those shoes, wow. That’s all I can say.
Capital Y YES Marco Estrada. ?? pic.twitter.com/dM1NXaknjn
— YBTZ (@the_Zubes) May 8, 2016
Estrada was perfect through the first three innings, carving his way down the Dodgers’ order with pinpoint accuracy and an excellent off-speed pitch, as usual. He got himself into a little bit of trouble in the fourth inning, though, as he walked Chase Utley to lead it off. He struck out Corey Seager for the first out, but after that, Troy Tulowitzki botched a potential double play ball (it would have been a really difficult turn, because Utley was running on the pitch). But Estrada got Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal on a couple of really impressive back-to-back strikeouts.
After a one-two-three fifth inning, Estrada allowed Trayce Thompson to smack a leadoff double. Thompson advanced to third on a fly ball from Utley, but Estrada stranded him there by striking out Seager and getting Gonzalez to ground out. His only damage in the game came in the seventh inning, when Joc Pederson hit a solo homer with two outs.
So overall, Estrada’s line was seven innings, three hits, two walks, eight strikeouts, and one earned run. I think it was his best outing of the season, and obviously it was (and should have been) enough to win, but the bullpen (and the offence) let him down.
The Jays’ bats got virtually nothing going off of Ross Stripling this afternoon. The Dodgers rookie tossed six innings and was perfect save for a double from Kevin Pillar in the third inning that resulted in a run because of two productive groundouts by Russell Martin and Ryan Goins. But like I said, other than that, zip. They did managed to grab Estrada the lead in the bottom of the seventh after he was pulled, though, thanks to a couple of singles, a walk, and a Thompson error in right field.
So Estrada was in line for the win… But Drew Storen came in for the eighth, and, well, yeah. He walked Utley to lead the inning off, and then, with two strikes, he gave up a ground rule double to Seager. John Gibbons got him the hell out of there immediately after that, brining in Roberto Osuna to limit the damage. Osuna struck out Justin Turner, then intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez, then Grandal tied the game on a sacrifice fly to deep centre field. After that, Howie Kendrick gave the Dodgers the lead with a single, so both of Storen’s baserunners came in to score.
In the ninth, the Dodgers grabbed another run off of a combination Jesse Chavez/Chad Girodo/Gavin Floyd, pretty much sealing the deal. 4-2 Dodgers.
Marco Estrada, of course. It matched his season opener against the Red Sox back in April for his best start of the season on paper, and his pitches looked masterful. I don’t really know what to say, other than damn, I’m thrilled that the Jays kept this guy around, and if there’s anybody out there still skeptical of his legitimacy, they can stop now.
Kevin Pillar is hitting everything! He’s been on fire recently, and that carried into today, as Pillar accounted for two of the team’s five hits. His batting average is up over .300 right now, which is awesome, especially considering the fact that nobody else is really tearing the cover off the ball.
Gibbons had a short leash with Storen, and he did the right thing. In the past Gibby has been bad about letting pitchers implode, but today, he saw that Storen didn’t have it, and he pulled him out of the game and gave the ball to his best reliever, Osuna. Typical baseball junk knowledge would suggest not bringing in your closer in the eighth with nobody out, but it was the highest leverage situation in the game, so you need to use your best reliever. Anyway, I’m happy to see Gibby make the right decision here.
I also thought Gavin Floyd looked pretty damn good again today. After drilling his first batter, Justin Turner, Floyd managed to limit the damage in the ninth inning by striking out Gonzalez and Grandal. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him in high leverage situations until Storen and Cecil settle down.
16-17 isn’t anything to go crazy over, but honestly, it’s kind of impressive that despite how bad the offence has been, and how awful the bullpen has been generally, that they’re still doing pretty well. I mean, this is just about as bad as this team can go, save for excellent starting pitching, and they’re still just one game under .500?
Through 33 games last year, #BlueJays were also 16-17. They were 1-12 in games when they scored three or fewer runs.
— John Lott (@LottOnBaseball) May 8, 2016
Drew Storen’s struggles continue. There isn’t much to say about this one, obviously this was a shitty outing for Storen, who, well has had a lot of those types of outings this season. But the worst part about this situation is the reaction on Twitter, where people, for whatever reason, think it’s a good idea to Tweet at the guy about how awful he is and junk like that. Fuck off with that stuff. It isn’t going to help anything. Scream into a pillow, yell at the clouds, don’t fill his inbox with more reasons to hate his life.
The offence was awful today. Pillar and Justin Smoak get a pass, because they accounted for four of the team’s five hits. I thought after the awful Derek Holland start that these struggles were over with, but yeesh, five hits? Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion combined for a goose egg, and if those three aren’t hitting, not much good will happen.
Coming up is a road series in San Fransisco. On Monday, it’ll be Jake Peavy, on Tuesday, it’s Matt Cain, and on Wednesday, a day game against Mad Bum. Now, if you had told me in, like, 2009 that we would be looking forward to back-to-back starts against Peavy and Cain, I would have assumed that you were telling me that they’re going to be fun to watch for pitching mastery, not because there’s a decent chance they’re going to get bombed out.
Through 29 innings this season, Peavy has allowed 29 earned runs on a whopping 47 hits and .367 opponents batting average. Cain has been, uh, kind of better? Through 31 innings, he’s allowed 27 runs on 44 hits. So hopefully this can be kind of a Derek Holland situation again.
And finally, Brett Cecil won’t be available in this series because he’s expecting the birth of his third child. So congrats to him, and shut the fuck up to the people replying to this Tweet saying junk about him staying away from the team and whatever. So I’m guessing we’ll have either Ryan Tepera or Pat Venditte called up in his absence, but I haven’t heard yet.
Brett Cecil told me he’s heading home tonight for birth of third child. Will miss entire series in San Francisco. Roster move after game.
— Jamie Campbell (@SNETCampbell) May 8, 2016
Note: I’ve never done a Jays game recap before, so let me know what you like and don’t like. More/less recap, more/less looking forward, more tweets/videos/photos? Etc.