Game Threat: Just A Half Game Back, Blue Jays (58-45) vs Orioles (58-44)

Last night ACEstrada battled his way through a sore back, the lineup clubbed the crap out of Kevin Gausman, and now, here we are, just half-a-game out of the American League East lead. With a win today over the bad-but-good-against-the-Jays for some reason Yovani Gallardo, the Jays win grab sole possession of the division lead for the first time since April 4. 

And, you know, I hate to start sounding like a broken record, but fuck Baltimore! 

Yesterday

After being pushed back from his scheduled start on Wednesday, Marco Estrada got the ball last night in the series opener against the Garbage Birds from Baltimore. As we know, Estrada has been battling a Brad Brach bad back injury since late June when the Jays were in Colorado, and as a result, has had to labour through his starts, as he isn’t fully back at 100 per cent yet.

It was his second kick since coming off the 15-day disabled list due to the aforementioned back injury, and it was quite similar to the one he churned out last Friday against the Mariners. He wasn’t quite as sharp as he usually is, he had some trouble locating his pitches, but he continued to grind through it, and as the game went on, he loosened up and had an easier time painting corners and navigating through the strike zone. 


In the first inning, Estrada threw 26 pitches, and only 14 of them were for strikes. He had difficulty locating his changeup, and as a result, had to up the usage on his fastball, which is certainly less effective without a working changeup than it is with one. And, of course, with two runners on, Mark Trumbo drilled one of those fastballs to centre field to score two runs. 

The Orioles picked up runs in the third and fourth off of Estrada, but the one in the third really wasn’t his fault. After walking Manny Machado with one out, Estrada to Chris Davis to ground out to first. But since the shift was on, Machado ran to an empty third base, and Russell Martin dropped the somewhat ill-advised throw from Justin Smoak, allowing him to trot in and score. 

Like he said in the Zwelling tweet above, though, as the game went on, Estrada started having an easier time locating his pitches, and became much more effective. By the fifth and sixth innings, he was getting consistent strikes, both swinging and looking, on his change up and, as a result, finished his start by retiring six batters in a row. Overall, Estrada tossed six innings, allowing four runs (three of them earned) on five hits and two walks while collecting six strikeouts. He threw 99 pitches with 61 one of them coming for strikes, including 13 whiffs, mostly on the changeup. 


On the other side, the Jays completely drilled Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, which isn’t anything new considering, ya know, Baltimore’s starters are pretty terrible! 

In the first inning, the Jays erased Baltimore’s early 2-0 lead by crushing three separate solo home runs via Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Troy Tulowitzki. In the third, they went at it again, scoring three runs off of a walk, single, errant throw by Matt Wieters, groundout from Tulowitzki, single by Russell Martin, groundout from Justin Smoak, and single by Kevin Pillar. 

Gausman was pulled after three innings, and after he came out, the Jays were shut down by Vance Worley, who pitched quite well in four innings of relief, and Brad “I have a bad back” Brach, because, ya know, the Orioles starters are a dumpster fire, but their relievers sure as hell aren’t. 


But thankfully six runs was all they needed! The newly-acquired Joaquin Benoit pitched the seventh inning, working his way around a walk and a single with a double play, then Jason “Fire up the” Grilli came in for the eighth, and got, you know, fired the fuck up after getting through the inning allowing only a solo homer to Manny Machado. And finally, Roberto Osuna came in and had a clean ninth, save for allowing a double to J.J. “Don’t call me Ed” Hardy just to fuck with all of us. 

And there ya have it. 6-5 win on Friday to kick off the series in front of a packed crowd and half-a-game back in the division! We’re coming for ya, Junk Birds! 

News and Scuttlebutt 


I’m not really sure why I found this so interesting/surprising/hilarious, but there you go. Jason Grilli, who was born on Nov. 11, 1976, has been alive longer than the Jays, who played their first game on April 7, 1977. 


And here’s the big news of this morning, even though it isn’t quite big news just yet. The Jays are reportedly looking to add to their starting rotation, which, in my estimate, would mean they’re seeking to add another starter who’s better than Drew Hutchison, can maybe allow Marco Estrada to take a couple of weeks on the DL to heal his back, and then ultimately push Aaron Sanchez back into the ‘pen down the road. Who knows, though! We’ll see, hopefully, in a few hours! 


Speaking of Sanchez and pitching and all that stuff, here’s an article about how the decision around the Jays’ breakout ace will ultimately effect the team moving forward the rest of the way this season, including the trade deadline. 

Today 

Blue Jays: Jose Bautista DH, Josh Donaldson 3B, Edwin Encarnacion 1B, Michael Saunders LF, Troy Tulowitzki SS, Russell Martin C, Melvin Upton Jr LF, Kevin Pillar CF, Devon Travis 2B

J.A. Happ: 13-3, 3.27 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.177 WHIP, 7.9 H9, 2.7 BB9, 7.3 SO9

Orioles: Adam Jones CF, Jonathan Schoop 2B, Manny Machado 3B, Chris Davis 1B, Mark Trumbo RF, Pedro Alvarez DH, Matt Wieters C, J.J. Hardy SS, Nolan Reimold LF

Yovani Gallardo: 3-2, 5.37 ERA, 5.07 FIP, 1.629 WHIP, 9.9 H9, 4.8 BB9, 6.2 SO9

J.A. Happ has been excellent this year. Fan-fucking-tastic, to be completely frank. Today, he’ll be looking for his 14th win of the season, and he’ll also be looking to continue an incredibly impressive win streak that dates back to June 6 (when he got pounded by the Tigers), a span of eight starts. I mean, yeah, sure, pitcher wins are a pretty useless stat, and they’re more indicative of circumstance than anything in regards to how effective the pitcher was individually, but still, damn, eight times in a row now, Happ has gone out there, tossed a solid game, and the Jays have won. 

On the other side, we’ll see the unfortunately familiar face of Yovani Gallardo, who, despite being hot-junk, like the rest of Baltimore’s starters, seems to be really, really fucking good against the Jays for some reason. This extends back to last season when Gallardo earned the Texas Rangers their only two wins over the Jays in the regular season, and a win in Game 1 of the ALDS. Earlier this season, Gallardo earned a win over the Jays by tossing five innings of two-run ball despite allowing five hits and four walks. Uhhhhh. Yeah. We all know what’s he’s all about, but hopefully the Jays’ batters can figure it out too and finally send him into space.