Game Threat: The Last of Texas, Blue Jays (19-19) vs Rangers (21-16)

This team is such a tease. For the second time in under a week, the Blue Jays have rallied back at the last moment to send a game to extra innings before ultimately letting it slip between their fingers. Fortunately, this one didn’t feature a walk off, four pitch walk, but it certainly deserves to be added to the list of unfortunate ways the Jays have lost games in the first few weeks of 2016. 

Today, Toronto will play their final game of the 2016 regular season in Texas. Aaron Sanchez, who’s been dominant so far this year, and especially so in his last three starts, will get the ball for the Jays, while Cesar Ramos will make a spot start for the injured A.J. Griffin. And I note regular because I wouldn’t be all too surprised if these two teams met in the playoffs again this season. 

Yesterday

Marco Estrada had a pretty rough start yesterday by his standards, allowing five earned runs on five hits and four walks over six innings. Almost all of that damage came during an unfortunate second inning, in which Estrada allowed the first three batters of the inning to reach on two walks and a single before Bobby Wilson drove them all home with a grand slam to centre field. 

After that, though, Estrada completely settled down, allowing just a walk and a hit over the next three innings. In the sixth, Marco ran into some more trouble, though, this wasn’t really his fault at all. With two outs, Ryan Rua hit one in the air to centre field that Zeke Carrera completely misplayed, allowing Rua to end up on third with a triple. Right after, Rua scored on a passed ball charged to Russell Martin, so while it technically counts as an eared run for Estrada, it really wasn’t his doing. 

The Rangers looked to be in complete control of the game until the ninth inning, where Justin Smoak and Troy Tulowitzki smacked back-to-back home runs to quickly rally back from three down to tie the game 5-5. Gavin Floyd came in to pitch the bottom half of the inning, and was excellent, so much so that he was brought out for the tenth, where he allowed a two out, walk off home run to Drew Stubbs. At least it wasn’t a bases loaded walk, though! 

It was a pretty lame way to end a game, obviously, but still, I would take it over being handled easily 5-2 on the back of one big inning. Besides, while they didn’t finish the comeback completely, at least some of the last inning magic we became accustomed to last year is starting to show up, right? 

News and Scuttlebutt

The big news today is Brett Cecil being placed on the 15-Day disabled list with a left triceps strain. To fill his spot, the Jays recalled Dustin Antolin from Triple-A Buffalo, who was considering retiring from pro baseball last winter. 

According to Gregor Chisholm, this injury wasn’t one suffered in yesterday’s game, it’s been something that’s nagged Cecil for a while now. So it’s a good thing he’s hitting the DL before it balloons into something else. 


Ken Rosenthal has some news on Chris Colabello, who’s still struggling with his suspension. “It’s killing me,” added Colabello. “Everything I do in my life is thought out with careful attention and detail. I don’t do irresponsible things because I never want to make a mistake that could cost me my career.” 

Also, Marcus Stroman went to his graduation ceremony at Duke this weekend to grab his Sociology degree. I also just finished my Sociology degree, so maybe the two of us can meet up and talk Durkheim. 


Today

There are a lot of guys in baseball with the name Ramos, but Cesar is the one who spent four years with the Tampa Bay Rays as a reliever who got some spot starts, so you’d probably remember who he is if you thought about it long enough. Anyways, Ramos has made 23 appearances against the Jays in his career, all of them in relief, posting a 3.38 ERA which pretty much goes in line with his career ERA of 3.76. 

Over his career, the left-hander has been slightly better at dealing with lefties than righties, as you’d expect, of course. But this year, albeit in a small sample size, that difference has ballooned quite a bit, as Ramos is allowing right-handed batters to slash a .343/.378/.629 line off of him. I feel like I say this every single time the Jays face a lefty, but Ramos could really help get some fireworks going today. 

Aaron Sanchez will face the Rangers for the second time in little over a week today. To me, his game against Texas back on May 4 was kind of a turning point in his season. Obviously he had been really good, but his success didn’t completely overshadow the fact that he was still having a rough time with lefty hitters. But in that Texas game, Sanchez managed to maintain his composure after two difficult innings to begin the game, and he held Texas’s gulf of lefties (Odor, Mazara, Fielder, and Moreland) to four hits in 16 plate appearances. Now, his splits don’t even look that ridiculous, as lefties are hitting .219/.312/.365 off of him. 

So if Sanchez can navigate through this lefty-heavy lineup again today, it’ll be just another gold star in what has so far been an excellent performance as a starting pitcher, which, let’s be honest, not all of us expected to see from him. 


Lineups 

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