Game Threat: Struggling To Score Against Houston, Blue Jays (65-51) vs Astros (61-55)

Fransisco Liriano had a rough time, the bats were quiet again, people are blaming everything on either the lack of small ball or the implementation of a six-man rotation, and finally, all those people who said “you can’t trade Joe Fucking Musgrove!” were validated. It seems like a good time for Aaron Sanchez to go out there and shut everybody up for a few hours! 

Yesterday 

Fransisco Liriano made his second start as a Blue Jay last night and didn’t have a good time at all. Though he only walked two batters through five-and-two-thirds innings, Liriano pretty clearly struggled with command throughout most of his outing. He threw 37 fastballs, and only 20 were for strikes, and even when he was in the strike zone, the Astros hitters were able to pick up on it, tagging him for eight hits, including four doubles and a home run. 

Like I said, command seemed to be the issue here, which, again, isn’t necessarily what the box score will tell you. Liriano cruised through the first two innings on just 20 pitches, consistently carving up the strike zone through both of them. Then, when it came to going through the order for a second time, Liriano seemed to lose his grip. 

In the third, he allowed a couple of runs off of a bases loaded single from Carlos Correa in which two of the three baserunners came from walks. Through the inning, he threw 26 pitches, only 12 were for strikes, and had it not have been for an excellent snag by Josh Donaldson on a Jose Altuve line drive proper to Correa’s single, the inning could have been a lot uglier. 

In the fifth inning, the Astros jumped all over Liriano, scoring two runs on a single and back-to-back doubles. The ugly thing here is that the three hits each came on the second pitch of the at bat, on three different pitches: fastball, changeup, and slider. So it isn’t like the Astros were sitting on our pitch and he was giving it to them, they were quite literally just smacking whatever he gave them. 

So, I mean, yeesh. There aren’t really any positives we can garner from this start, I don’t think. Liriano wasn’t getting much in terms of swings and misses, which isn’t surprising, because he wasn’t in the strike zone very often, and when he was, the Astros were able to put it in play as he got 10 whiffs in total, in comparison to 20 batted balls. 

Regardless, though, even though Liriano’s five earned runs over five-and-two-thirds wasn’t too hot, the offence didn’t do much anyway. In the second, they picked up one run off of the always-not-ideal double play, and their other two runs came in the fourth and ninth on solo home runs, because, you know, that’s how things have been going recently. 

The Astros starter, Joe Musgrove, is yet another young quality pitcher who was blindly gambled away during the AA days a former Blue Jay draft pick who was sent to Houston in the trade for J.A. Happ 1.0 way way waaaaaaay back when, which is pretty wild, because it’s a name, quite frankly, I never thought I would hear from again after he was dealt. It’s funny, actually, I was talking to somebody about how the Astros got Musgrove in the Happ package, and they were confused because they thought Happ came to Toronto in the Halladay trade. Is that something people think? Because to be fair, I don’t have a very strong memory of his days in Houston. 

Anyways, I would also like to not have a strong memory of that fucking game, either! So let’s move on!  

News and Scuttlebutt 

I guess if you’re gong to draw one positive from last night’s game, it would have to be Edwin hitting his 300th career home run. Hopefully 400 and 500 come in Toronto, too! And not while he’s a visiting member of the goddamn Boston Red Sox! 

Today

Blue Jays: Devon Travis 2B, Josh Donaldson 3B, Edwin Encarnacion DH, Michael Saunders RF, Troy Tulowitzki SS, Russell Martin C, Justin Smoak 1B, Melvin Upton Jr CF, Darrell Ceciliani LF

Aaron Sanchez: 11-2, 2.85 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 1.156 WHIP, 7.9 H9, 2.6 BB9, 7.5 SO9

Astros: George Springer RF, Alex Bregman 3B, Jose Altuve DH, Carlos Correa SS, Marwin Gonzalez 2B, Evan Gattis C, A.J. Reed 1B, Teoscar Hernandez CF, Tony Kemp LF

Collin McHugh: 7-9, 4.69 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 1.484 WHIP, 10.8 H9, 2.5 BB9, 8.9 SO9

It’s been one time through the six-man rotation and things haven’t really looked all that great so far, as Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, and Fransisco Liriano all had worse starts than you’d expect from them. Ironically, the one guy who had poor numbers on extra rest over his career was J.A. Happ, and he was the one guy of the six to perform to his standard this week. Geez, it’s almost like these small sample sizes are kinda full of shit, or something!

Anyways, back to today’s game. Sanchez will get his first start since last Saturday in Kansas City, where he mowed through the Royals for the first half of his outing, then struggled largely due to inexplicable KC BABIP luck in the second half. He’s the one guy on the team who hasn’t faced the Astros now this season, but in the past, he’s held them to just two runs over 11 innings, which would make sense, as Houston’s best hitters all bat from the right side. For Houston, Collin McHugh will get to redeem himself, as he was beat by the Jays back on August 3, when he tossed six innings and allowed three runs (but, of course, struck out 10).