In perhaps their most important game of the 2016 season to date, J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays delivered. Happ held the Red Sox to two runs over six excellent innings, the Benoit, Grilli, Osuna combination shut things down the rest of the way, and a Melvin Upton two-run bomb in the second inning coupled with a Jose Bautista RBI single in the third was enough to get the Jays back in the win column for the first time in nearly a week.
Fuck, that was really, really necessary. I had almost forgotten what winning felt like! With the win, the Jays valued themselves back to within just one game of the Red Sox for first in the American league East, meaning despite that absolutely horrific week in which everything went literally as bad as it possibly could have and it seemed to many that the sky had fallen, this race is far from over.
News and Scuttlebutt
— John Lott (@LottOnBaseball) September 10, 2016
It looked like the players-only meeting worked! John Lott spoke with Russell Martin, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jason Grilli, a group of the team’s veterans, about what went down behind those doors and what was said.
While Martin wouldn’t elaborate on exactly what was discussed, as he wanted to keep it between the guys on the team, he suggested it was largely positive, and served mainly as an opportunity for the players to take a breath, get their heads on straight, and refresh their minds.
And he said a lot more! So click on the link and read Lott’s story if you haven’t!
#BlueJays starters vs. Tampa Bay: Liriano, Stroman and Estrada in that order. Dickey gets skipped.
— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) September 11, 2016
So it looks like Fransisco Liriano is coming out of the bullpen again in order to make a start against the Rays on Monday. It’ll also mark the second start in a row that Dickey has been skipped, as he was also shoved back earlier this week in favour of the Jays lining up their big three starters in the Boston series. Based on the way he’s pitched down the stretch, this isn’t really all that big of a surprise. But that said, the Jays now only have Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, and Travis Dermody as lefties out the pen, which is, uh, not ideal.
Blue Jays: Devon Travis DH, Josh Donaldson 3B, Edwin Encarnacion 1B, Jose Bautista RF, Russell Martin C, Troy Tulowitzki SS, Michael Saunders LF, Kevin Pillar CF, Ryan Goins 2B
Aaron Sanchez: 13-2, 2.92 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 1.157 WHIP, 7.7 H9, 2.7 BB9, 7.3 SO9
Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia 2B, Xander Bogaerts SS, David Ortiz DH, Mookie Betts RF, Hanley Ramirez 1B, Travis Shaw 3B, Brock Holt LF, Sandy Leon C, Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Clay Buchholz: 6-10, 4.99 ERA, 5.17 FIP, 1.364 WHIP, 8.8 H9, 3.5 BB9, 6.0 SO9
As good as Happ and Estrada have been this year, a Sanchez start day just feels different. “Sanchez is pitching today? Ohh, sucks for them.”
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) September 11, 2016
This is absolutely true. It’s unfathomable at this point that many of us were arguing in favour of putting Aaron Sanchez in the bullpen this season because he either couldn’t get out lefties, didn’t strike enough guys out, or just didn’t seem to be cut to be a starter, but here we are now watching him break out into one of the American League’s most dominant pitchers.
Like Stoeten said, I can’t think of anybody else I would rather have playing the rubber match of a game against a team that’s one game ahead of the Jays in the division with two weeks left to go in the season than Sanchez. It almost feels like Roy Halladay or David Price is getting ready to pitch today.
In two outings against Boston this season, Sanchez has tossed one excellent game and one pretty good one. The excellent one came back in April when he allowed one run over seven innings on just two hits, and the other one, which was pretty good, came in May, where he allowed three runs over six-and-two-thirds.
Opposing Sanchez will be everyone’s favourite Red Sox pitcher: Clay Buchholz. And when I say he’s your favourite Red Sock, I most certainly mean that the pine tar enthusiast is endearing because he isn’t very good, and represents an excellent opportunity for the Jays bats to go into nuclear mode.