The Blue Jays have slayed The House of Horrors. They won a commanding game on Friday, got dropped on Saturday, and then came back and squeezed out a gusty win on Sunday.
On Friday, Francisco Liriano was really fighting it. His command was poor and he couldn’t seem to settle in and find the zone, ultimately giving up three earned runs over three-and-two-thirds innings. Honestly, the three earned runs was pretty decent damage control considering Liriano walked five guys. After he was pulled, the bullpen was absolute nails. Danny Barnes worked a couple innings in relief of Liriano, and Aaron Loup, Joe Smith, and Roberto Osuna closed the door in the final third of the game after the Jays took the lead off of a couple Kendrys Morales bombs. 8-4 Blue Jays
On Saturday, Marco Estrada matched up against Jake Odorizzi in what was essentially a carbon copy of what happened the last time these two met back in early April. The Jays scored a quick run, but were shut down by Odorizzi, and Estrada had difficulty with the long ball, surrendering five earned runs in six innings of work. He’s been great against everyone this season other than Tampa, and the Rays have accounted for all five of his home runs against this season. 6-1 Rays.
On Sunday, Joe Biagini was given the keys to make his first start of his big league career. He hadn’t made one since 2015 in Double-A, but Biagini showed no signs of rust, shutting the Rays down over four innings. After that, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Smith, and Osuna shut down the Rays and Darwin Barney hit a go ahead solo homer in the eighth. Another excellent performance from the ‘pen. 2-1 Blue Jays.
That’s the second series win of the season for the Jays now, and oddly enough, both have come against Tampa Bay, a team that traditionally gives Toronto fits. You can thank the bullpen for these two wins largely, as they’ve stepped up in a big way given the team’s decimated starting rotation.
Things that were good
- The bullpen! Like I just said, fuck, they’ve really stepped it up. Aaron Loup pitched two clean innings in big spots this weekend, Danny Barnes salvaged the game after Liriano struggled, giving the Jays a chance to come back with two-and-a-third of shutout ball, Ryan Tepera had two clean innings, as did Joe Smith and Roberto Osuna in the eighth and ninth inning slots. Overall, the relievers, if you count Biagini, tossed 16 1/3 innings this weekend, allowing just two runs, neither one earned. Damn good stuff.
- Joe Biagini, though I touched on him briefly, deserves his own shutout here. He hasn’t made a start since 2015 in Double-A, has been worked like a goddamn horse out of the ‘pen so far a month into the season, randomly gets called on to make a start, and is dominant. It only took him 52 pitches to plow through four innings. He really should be stretched out and turned into a starter long term. I mean, it’s nice to have a versatile guy in your ‘pen who can pick up a save in the ninth, come in a strike a guy out with the bases loaded in the seventh, or throw two innings if a starter is pulled early, but it’s even better having a starter who can throw six good innings every fifth day. See Aaron Sanchez for example. I don’t think any of us want him back in the ‘pen.
- Kevin Pillar is still hitting, going 5-for-12 on the series, and now has an .858 OPS. He looks like a different person at the plate this year and it’s great. Kendrys Morales also had a huge series, mashing two bombs on Friday and picking up a few more hits along the way. But this series win was largely on the backs of the bullpen, I can’t stress that enough.
Things that weren’t good
- The offence was pretty bad yet again, but I think we’ve come to accept it. No Tulo and no JD, and this team isn’t going to score many runs. I mean, the lineup already looks soft enough with Justin Smoak batting fifth and Darwin Barney/Chris Coghlan/Zeke Carrera/Ryan Goins filling spots, but those guys have actually exceeded realistic expectations. The issue for the Jays has been Jose Bautista and Devon Travis, really.
- Bautista put up a goose egg on the series, striking out seven times and Travis went 1-for-10. If those two aren’t hitting, the lineup won’t score runs. You can kind of get away with it when Tulo and JD are in, but not with this injury riddled group.
- Both Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano had rough outings, as Liriano struggled with command and Estrada was hit by the long ball. I don’t think it’s a big issue, as both have been largely good otherwise, but this is the second time it’s happened to both starters against the same team. The Jays are going to see a lot of Tampa this season, of course, so both Estrada and Liriano have to figure out why the Rays, well, have them figured out, I guess.
- Oh, yeah, Kevin Kiermaier, the second best Kevin in the AL East, was a big ol’ pissbaby on Friday about getting hit by Liriano. He seemed to think it was intentional, which is odd, because everyone fucking knows Liriano struggles with command, and he was walking everyone that night anyway. Ball players gotta chill.
Are you ready? It’s the return of Edwin.
After leaving (getting pushed out, kind of?) this winter to sign a three-year deal in Cleveland, our old good pal Edwin Encarnacion will be back at the Rogers centre for the first time with his new club. And apparently Hazel Mae has something that’s going to make us feel some feels.
He’ll get a standing ovation, of course. But hopefully he doesn’t sting us. Watching Edwin take the parrot for a walk in Toronto with a goddamn Indians jersey on. Yuck. Ugh. No.
Anyways, Marcus Stroman will pitch Monday, somebody will need to be called up for Tuesday, maybe T.J. House, maybe Mike Bolsinger, maybe me, maybe you, who knows, and Liriano will go Wednesday, it appears. Cleveland will toss out Trevor Bauer, unless he shoves a drone in his ass and can’t pitch, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar. Fun times!