Game Threat: Wiping Away Bad Memories in Kansas City, Blue Jays (63-47) @ Royals (51-58)

Kauffman Stadium — A place of shadows, creepy bearded kids, and sobering memories. 

The Blue Jays returned to Kansas City last night for the first time since they were dropped by the eventual World Series Champions in the ALCS last October for a weekend series that featured two teams headed in opposite directions. 

While regular season success ultimately won’t soothe the pain of what we witnessed last fall — Dalton Pompey anxiously waiting around on third base, Ben Revere smashing the gatorade jug to death, and our MVP grounding out with deafening cheers in the background — it’s certainly something. 


On Fransisco Liriano’s start: 

Fransisco Liriano made his first start as a Blue Jays last night, and, when taking into consideration the season he’s had up to this point, looked very effective. 

In the first inning, Liriano was tagged with an unearned run as Darwin Barney made a throwing error that allowed Alcides Escobar to reach second base with nobody out. Immediately after, Liriano allowed a single, but then got a double ball to limit the damage to just one run. 

In the fifth inning, Paulo Orlando, who mashed lefties, clubbed a home run to centre field for Liriano’s first earned run of the game, and soon after that, Lorenzo Cain tripled home Chesler Cuthbert who had previously taken a two out walk. 

Speaking of walks, that was really the big focus coming into the game for Liriano, who, before being traded, led the Major Leagues in walks with 71 so far in 2016. In his first four innings, Liriano managed to throw at least 70 per cent strikes, but in the fifth and sixth, his command went slightly south, largely due to him tiring and the Royals changing their approach, as it was his third time through the batting order. 

Overall, Liriano tossed six innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on seven hits and two walks while striking out five. It wasn’t spectacular, but if that’s the kind of performance Liriano can come up with every six days, that would most certainly be good enough. 


On the rest of the game:

The Jays grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning off of a Devon Travis home run, but gave it right back in the bottom half. In the third, the Jays finally got to Dillon Gee, as walks to Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion came around to score on a Michael Saunders double followed by a Troy Tulowitzki groundout. Again, though, those runs were given back just two innings later when Kansas City scored a couple off of a home run, walk, and triple to tie the game. 

In the ninth, Devon Travis clubbed his second home run of the game off of the usually untouchable Kelvin Herrera on a high and inside fastball to give the Jays a 4-3 lead. The crazy thing about this is that Herrera has only allowed nine runs this season and three of them have come against the Jays. 

The bottom of the ninth was somewhat of a journey, as Darwin Barney made is second throwing error of the game, allowing Paulo Orlando to reach second base with just one out. He made up for it immediately though, as Orlando tried to swipe third base for some reason and was thrown out by Russell Martin that was impressively scooped by Barney. Joaquin Benoit ultimately earned the save, his first as a Blue Jay, Brett Cecil earned the win, his first of the season, and the Jays maintained their position in first place in the American League East standings. 

There was quite a bit to like about this game. While the bats are still somewhat sleepy, relatively speaking in comparison to the offensive explosions we’re used to, the Jays managed to pull ahead in a tight game against a team who traditionally tends to thrive in those situations. This was largely due to Devon Travis’ heroics, of course, but also, two very good lockdown innings of relief from Brett Cecil and Scott Feldman. It’s excellent to see the bullpen have a strong showing even when Roberto Osuna and Jason Grilli have the day off. 

News and Scuttlebutt

I didn’t mention it earlier because I was saving it for the news section, but Josh Donaldson was clubbed in the head by a pitch from Herrera in the ninth inning last night, which was, to be blunt, fucking terrifying. 

As Arden said, Josh is fine. He also said in a later Tweet that Donaldson didn’t believe there was any intent on behalf of Herrera in that situation, which, when you watch the reactions of both him and catcher Sal Perez, is pretty clear. Anyways, thank the sweet fucking lord that the MVP is okay! 

In other news, the Jays have shipped switch-throwing pitcher Pat Venditte to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later. Though he was very entertaining, Venditte didn’t have virtually any shot at cracking Toronto’s bullpen after their deadline acquisitions. In eight games for the Jays, he had forgettable 5.19 ERA, and in 25 games for Triple-A Buffalo, he had a similarly unimpressive 4.37 ERA. 

Also, this solo home run streak is kinda hilarious. 


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

Aaron Sanchez: 11-1, 2.71 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 1.134 WHIP, 7.6 H9, 2.6 BB9, 7.6 SO9

Royals: Alcides Escobar SS, Cheslor Cuthbert 3B, Lorenzo Cain RF, Eric Hosmer 1B, Kendrys Morales DH, Sal Perez C, Alex Gordon LF, Paulo Orlando CF, Raul Mondesi 2B

Danny Duffy: 7-1, 2.98 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 1.021 WHIP, 7.3 H9, 1.9 BB9, 10.4 SO9 

One of very few positives for Kansas City this season has been the emergence of Danny Duffy, the starter turned reliever turned starter again, as an ace-quality pitcher. Duffy has been far and away the Royals’ best starter this season, which is pretty incredible considering he didn’t actually join their starting rotation until late-May. Since then, Duffy has churned out quality start after quality start, tossing fewer than six innings only three times and allowing more than three runs only once. 

On the other side, though, is a virtually identical story for the Toronto Blue Jays in Aaron Sanchez, who will make his first start since the team decided he would be permanently kept in the rotation for the time being. Like Duffy, Sanchez became a reliever last season, was effective, and hit his stride as an ace this year, as he currently leads the American League in ERA and has managed to work himself into a legitimate discussion for the Cy Young Award. 

Under a year ago, Duffy vs Sanchez was something you would have seen in the seventh inning of a game, now, it’s a marquee pitching match-up between two of the better starters in the league. Funny how that works.