It’s been a damn long time since the Blue Jays last lost a game. In fact, the last time they were dropped, Darwin Barney was the pitcher of record. And since then, they gave the Celevelanders a serious pounding, swept through the junk Royals the way that, let’s be honest, they probably should have last October, and have quickly gone from five-and-a-half games out of the division lead all the way to just a game back of the Junk-Ass Orioles.
It’s starting to feel like August 2015!
Early on, yesterday’s game just as advertised: A pitching duel between J.A. Happ and Mike Pelfrey in 2016 as neither team could manage to scrape a run through until the fifth inning when Josh Donaldson put the Jays on top with a double play ground out, which is everybody’s favourite baseball sequence aside from a ground rule double when there’s a runner on first base.
The Tigers threatened in the top of the sixth, as Happ’s pitch count eclipsed 100. He allowed the bases to get loaded on a Miguel Cabrera single, Justin Upton walk, and a James McCann single that couldn’t score the lead-footed Miggy from second. After the second hit, Jesse Chavez came in to put out the first, getting Blue Jays legend Mike Aviles (who’ll one day have his name on the Level of Excellence next to Mike Napoli) to ground out on one pitch to short.
By this point, the Tigers pretty much just said screw it, and gave up trying to score runs as the Jays bullpen, consisting on Chavez and Bo Schultz completely shut down Detroit’s lineup in the final three innings of the game. On the other side, though, the Jays jumped all over Detroit’s terrible bullpen, hammering home four runs on a Justin Smoak single, Kevin Pillar double, and Edwin Encarnacion (pay this fucking man) home run to the goddamn flight deck.
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 9, 2016
And there you have it! The Jays have seven wins in a row for the first time since the, like, four different times they did it last season, they have 50 wins before the All-Star break for the first time since 1992 (!), J.A. Happ has 12 wins, which is the most at the mid-summer junk game classic for a Jays Ace since Roy Halladay, and Edwin has 80 RBIs, which puts him in a tie for third-most by a Jay by, you guessed it, the break.
Also, I needed to add this in here somewhere. Josh Donaldson made a hell-of-a-fucking-play which is, uh, no surprise. But still. Damn.
— Roman (@BadNewsJays) July 9, 2016
News and Scuttlebutt
The big news this morning is that the Blue Jays apparently have interest (well, they’ve watched) Rich Hill of the Oakland Athletics. The article from MLB Trade Rumours pegs him as this summer’s best pure rental pitcher, which makes sense, considering this winter’s crop of free agent arms is significantly weaker than last year’s group.
— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) July 8, 2016
Rich Hill! Sure! I mean, he’s had an excellent season so far in Oakland, posting a 2.25 ERA in 76 innings while striking out 10.7 per nine, but the biggest concern revolving around him would be his durability, as the veteran lefty has struggled with injuries, only tossing anywhere close to 200 innings in the Majors once before in his career.
Congrats to ex-Mariner Michael Saunders for earning All-Star berth as Final Vote winner. Well deserved: .298/.372/.559, 25 2B, 16 HR, 41 RBI
— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) July 8, 2016
17.7 million votes for #BlueJays‘ Michael Saunders
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 8, 2016
Also, unless you’re living under some kind of goddamn rock, Michael Saunders won the final vote thing to join the American League All-Star team! Fantastic stuff! Remember when he was traded for Jay Bruce? Fuck!
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) July 9, 2016
Like I said, Edwin has a chance here to put together one of the best pre-break performances by a Jay ever (based on RBIs, that is). I’m sure he’ll break the deadlock with Carter and Delgado at 80, I’m pretty sure he can catch Vernon Wells at 84, but I’m not sure he can mash 17 runs in over the next couple days to catch Delgado’s record. Well, actually, former David Price trade toss in Matt Boyd is starting today, and if he has anything near the start he did roughly a year ago today for the Jays, Edwin can certainly maybe hit that magic number 97!
Blue Jays: Carrera LF, Donaldson DH, Encarnacion 1B, Martin C, Tulowitzki SS, Pillar CF, Lake RF, Travis 2B, Barney 3B
Aaron Sanchez: 9-1, 2.94 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 1.182 WHIP, 7.9 H9, 2.8 BB9, 7.9 SO9
Tigers: Kinsler 2B, Maybin CF, Cabrera 1B, Martinez DH, Castellanos 3B, Upton LF, Moya RF, Saltalamacchia C, Romine SS
Matt Boyd: 0-2, 6.44 ERA, 5.09 FIP, 1.466 WHIP, 9.8 H9, 3.4 BB9, 6.4 SO9
Aaron Sanchez is coming off maybe his best start of the season, as he dominated the Royals earlier this week, allowing only one run on three hits and a walk over eight innings. Actually, scratch that. His best start of the season, while it sorta came unravelled at the end, was against these Detroit Tigers back in June. Sanchez dominated the righty-heavy Tiger lineup, carving them up for 12 strikeouts over eight innings in a performance that I think we all absolutely love to see him duplicate today.
For Detroit, they’ll trot out former Jay Matt Boyd in place of former Jay Dan Norris, who was put on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique. Boyd has bade six starts this season, a few of them were pretty decent, including his five-and-a-third innings against the Jays in that Aaron Sanchez game back in June, but his last two have been dumpster fires. In two starts against the White Sox and Royals, Boyd tossed eight combined innings, allowing 13 runs on 15 hits while only striking out four.
Hell, I don’t like trying to predict baseball, because, well, you can’t, but this looks like a pretty damn nice match-up for the Jays right now, and if everything goes according to plan, we could be in a tie for the division lead in a few hours!