Game Recap: Welcome To First Place

What better way could you spend The Trade Deadline Champs 2015 Anniversary Day than pounding the crap out of the Trash Birds en route to moving into the AL East division lead?!

You know, it really doesn’t seem like very long ago that the Blue Jays were well in Baltimore’s rearview mirror in the American League East standings. That’s because it wasn’t. 

After dropping that Canada Day marathon to the Clevelanders, the Jays had a 43-39 record and sat five-and-a-half games back of the division-leading Orioles. Thanks to a 16-7 month of July, including back-to-back wins over the O’s this weekend, the Jays are now sitting in first place for the first time since they were 2-0 back on April 4. 

It’s like last year all over again! But this time it’s happening a month earlier!


What Happened?


Source: FanGraphs

In the first half of today’s game, it looked like a pitcher’s duel between J.A. Happ, who hadn’t lost a start since way way waaaaaay back on June 6, and Yovani Gallardo, who, while objectively garbage, has been inexplicably good in his career against the Jays. 

Happ was completely dominant all game. His only mistake, which, to be fair to him, was less of a mistake than a good job by the hitter type thing, came in the second inning when Pedro Alvarez drilled a 0-2 curveball over the wall in right field. 

And Gallardo’s streak of inexplicable dominance — well, success, because to honest, he wasn’t exactly dominating — continued up until the fifth inning. At that point, Gallardo, for his career, had pitched 29 1/3 innings against the Jays while only yielding five earned runs. 

Then, finally, the Jays busted him open. After making us pull our hair out and yell “why can they not hit this guy?!” loudly at the TV, the Jays tagged Gallardo for five runs in the fifth inning, representing as much as they had managed off of him in his previous four starts.

Devon Travis hammered a home run, Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson each took a walk, Edwin Encarnacion doubled both of them home to give the Jays a 3-1 lead. After that, Michael Saunders was intentionally walked to load the bases, Troy Tulowitzki walked on a full count to cash one run in, then Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar each smack doubles to extend the lead to 7-1. 

A few more runs were tacked on in the seventh inning, the relievers came in and shut the Orioles down, and now, here we are with the Jays sitting in first place! 

Positives

I mean, hell, they just won 9-1! Pretty much everything is a positive, right?!

J.A. Happ was the gold, shining star of this game. He was incredible, tossing seven innings (plus one batter in the eighth, likely so that he could leave the game to a standing ovation), allowing only the one earned run from the Alvarez homer, three hits, three walks, while picking up 11 strikeouts. 

Happ now has a 14-3 record and a 3.16 earned run average on the season, and has been much better than anybody could have expected when he was signed back in November. I think many expected him to be solid, but I really don’t think any of is figured he would be in a position where he should be garnering legitimate consideration for the Cy Young award. 

Also, since Happ was so excellent, the Jays were able to give Roberto Osuna and Jason Grilli, their eighth and ninth inning guys, a day off. Joe Biagini got BABIP’d into some trouble, but Brett Cecil was able to come in and put out the fire, getting Chris Davis to strike out with the bases loaded. 

The entire lineup looked excellent today. Like, August and September of 2015 excellent. Bautista and Donaldson picked up on Gallardo being rattled after the Travis home run in the fifth, passing the baton off to Edwin to capitalize. Then, when Michal Givens came in to pitch, Tulo had an excellent at bat to walk in a run. 

Maybe it’s just because I’m feeling good because they’re sitting in first place now, but man, this is one of the most complete, dominant games I’ve seen the Jays have this season. And it’s especially impressive because, while we like to shit all over them for being trash, it came against the Orioles, who really aren’t an awful team.

Negatives

Uhhhhh? Nothing? 

Melvin Upton went 0-4 with a strikeout? I guess? Moving along! 

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