They gave us a bright glimmer of hope, and then it all came crashing down. The Blue Jays are now 2-10 on the season after dropping three of four games to Baltimore this weekend, and it’s getting really, really hard to see any light at the end of this tunnel.
On Thursday, Francisco Liriano got the start looking to redeem himself after that yard sale he put up in his first outing of the season in Tampa Bay. And he did! Liriano was excellent, going six-and-two-thirds innings allowing just two runs while striking out 10. Unfortunately, the Jays bats were completely limp. 2-1 Orioles.
On Friday, Aaron Sanchez matched up against Wade Miley in what appeared to be the most winnable game in the series. But, since, ya know, it’s the 2017 Blue Jays, that wasn’t the case. The bats were only able to muster three runs off of Miley, and the Orioles got to Sanchez the third time around the order. 6-4 Baltimore.
On Saturday, Marco Estrada had a very masterful ACEstrada-like performance. He twirled seven shutout innings, fooling the Orioles with brilliant off-speed pitches and pin-point accuracy. Roberto Osuna blew the save in the ninth thanks to some unfortunate batted ball luck, but Kendrys Morales saved the day with a walk-off home run in the tenth. I mean, they got shut down by some guy who couldn’t break the Phillies roster out of camp, but a win is a win, right?? Could it be? The beginning of something good?! 2-1 Jays.
Nope. They saved the worst for last. On Sunday, J.A. Happ was cruising, but left the game in the fifth inning with elbow soreness. The bullpen came in and completely imploded, allowing 11 runs on 11 hits over the final four-and-two-thirds. The Jays managed to score four runs in a late-game rally, which seems like a massive breakthrough for the team at this point. 11-4 Orioles.
Things that were good:
- Not much!
- Both Francisco Liriano and Marco Estrada had excellent starts. J.A. Happ surely would have been in this category too if he wasn’t forced to leave Sunday’s game with injury. This team was expected to compete based on it’s dominant rotation, and for the most part, the starters have lived up to expectation so far.
- Kevin Pillar went 6-for-17 over the series with a home run, Troy Tulowitzki went 6-for-15, and Darwin Barney, Ryan Goins, Justin Smoak, and Zeke Carrera all chipped in offensively, too.
- Kendrys Morales’ walk-off homer on Saturday was great. If not for Kendrys and his two big home runs this season, we could be 0-12! Holy shit!
- Blah. Maybe I’m just grouchy from watching that hideous game today, but I can’t think of many other positives to draw from this series. There’s still 150 games left to go, I guess? I’m starting to wonder if that’s actually a good thing though.
Things that weren’t good:
- Oh boy, where to begin?
- Let’s start with the injuries. On Thursday, Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson hit back-to-back doubles off of Kevin Gausman in the bottom of the sixth inning. It looked like it could have been the start of something good. But as quickly as baseball gives, baseball takes away. Donaldson aggravated his leg rounding first, the same leg that kept him out of the lineup earlier in the season and throughout most of spring. He left the game, and has since been placed on the 10-day disabled list.
- Aaron Sanchez had a pretty forgettable start on Friday night. He was cruising through the first four inning, but in the fifth and sixth, the Orioles tagged Sanchez for four runs on three homers and a double. On Sunday, it was announced that Sanchez would be placed on the 10-day DL due to a blister on his middle finger, something he’s been struggling with on and off for two years. That would explain the issues he had Friday, as apparently he was altering his grips and delivery to compensate for it, which ins’t good.
- And finally, J.A. Happ left Sunday’s game in the fifth inning with elbow soreness. He was rolling really nicely, then, all of a sudden, the trainer came to the mound and he was out. We don’t know yet if Happ is going to miss any time, but fuck, elbow soreness is never a good thing. Pray for Estrada, Liriano, and Stroman. It seems the baseball gods are out to punish the Jays pitchers after perfectly healthy seasons in 2015 and 2016.
- And pretty much everything else! The bats, they were awful. Jose Bautista went 2-for-15. Russell Martin went 2-for-10. Steve Pearce went 1-for-10. There are a lot of key cogs in the lineup that simply aren’t firing right now. Say what you want about Ryan Goins, Zeke Carrera, Darwin Barney, and Justin Smoak in the lineup, but if Bautista, Pearce, Martin, and others who are expected to hit aren’t hitting, the team isn’t going to win games.
- The issue is that the team isn’t stringing hits together or hitting for much power. I hate using this kind of language because I feel like it’s massively overstated, but nobody is coming up with a big, clutch hit. Like, on Thursday, the Jays had Zach Britton on the ropes with runners on second and third down by one, and Pillar and Pearce couldn’t drive them in.
The Jays will have an off day to figure themselves out tomorrow before embarking on a run in which they’ll play 16 games in 16 days. They’ll play three games against Boston at home starting Tuesday, then they’ll hit the road for four games in Anaheim and three in St. Louis. Their next day off will come on May 4th.
In the Red Sox series, we’ll see Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, and Chris Sale. Both Rodriguez and Porcello have gotten off to ugly starts this season, but Sale has been excellent, of course. It’s hard to say exactly what John Gibbons will do with the starters, as Aaron Sanchez was slated to go on Thursday before he was placed on the DL, and Happ’s injury could add yet another wrinkle to things. I’m guessing Marco Estrada will be moved up to Thursday’s game, as he’ll be going on regular rest thanks to the off day.
But after that? It’s anybody’s guess. We could see Biagini get a start, maybe? Or Mat Latos called up from Triple-A? Who knows! But it doesn’t look good, that’s for sure.