A four-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners! Ladies and gentlemen, baseball is fun again.
The Jays are beaten up badly. Damn near half of their team is on the disabled list, and they’re grinding through day to day with a scrapheap, ragtag lineup. The only other team possibly hurting more? The Seattle Mariners. Not only did the Mariners roll into the four-game set this weekend with literally their entire pitching rotation (King Felix, Iwakuma, Paxton, Gallardo, and Smyly) on the shelf, but Robinson Cano wasn’t good to go either. Could the timing be more perfect?
On Thursday, Marco Estrada went up against former Blue Jays farmhand Chase De Jong, who had been traded by the team a couple years back for international free agent slot money. So I imagine shutting the Jays down was pretty high on his bucket list. But that didn’t happen. The Jays tagged De Jong for six runs with a five-run explosion in the fifth inning, and Estrada was strong as usual. 7-2 Blue Jays.
On Friday, Joe Biagini made his second career start against Christian Bergman, a Mariners depth pitcher. Biagini was even better this time than last, shutting down Seattle over five innings. A two-run bomb by Jose Bautista fuelled the offence, and Biagini and the bullpen completely shut the Mariners down. 4-0 Blue Jays.
On Saturday, Marcus Stroman put up a strong start, holding the Mariners to two runs over six innings while striking out nine. The Jays were having a weirdly difficult time with Ryan Weber, who was making his first career start, but the rookie hurt his elbow and had to leave the game in the fourth inning. After that, the Jays jumped all over the Mariners’ bullpen, scoring six runs in the last four innings off of homers from Bautista and Kendrys Morales. 7-2 Blue Jays.
On Sunday, with a chance to earn a four-game sweep, Aaron Sanchez took the mound for the first time since his one-inning outing a couple weeks ago against Baltimore. Sanchez was solid, though noticeably uncomfortable, and held Seattle to one unearned run over five innings. Ryan Tepera pitched an excellent two-and-one-third innings in relief before Kevin Pillar walked the game off with a solo homer. 3-2 Blue Jays.
Sweeeeeeeep! Let’s go streaking! The Jays are on a five-game winning streak, are 9-4 since the beginning of May, and are up to a respectable 17-21 on the season. It’s amazing how quickly a hot streak can turn around what appeared to be a dead season.
JOEY 💣 pic.twitter.com/TrYUfBFSuS— Andy (@_rallycap) May 12, 2017
Things that were good
- Hell, pretty much everything. The Jays outscored Seattle 21-6 over the four games, which is pretty damn incredible considering the Mariners’ pretty solid lineup.
- The starting pitching! Estrada had a great start, holding the M’s to two runs over six innings, which is pretty much the standard you can expect from him every single tim eh goes out there because he’s a goddamn magician. Joe Biagini was excellent, too. Through two career starts now, he’s tossed nine innings and hasn’t allowed an earned run, and at this point, it’s starting to look like the rotation should be his permanent home. Stroman’s start was solid, considering the worry about his sore arm that sidelined him in New York, and Sanchez grinded through five impressive innings after not having pitched really since mid-April. The rotation was a question mark with J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano on the shelf, but everyone left has really stepped it up.
- The bullpen! Holy hell! They combined to pitch 14 innings and allowed only one earned run, which was the solo homer off of Dominic Leone in Sunday’s game. Aaron Loup had three clean appearances, Ryan Tepera had a couple of excellent appearances that spanned more than one inning, and Roberto Osuna and Joe Smith had shutdown late inning showings. All in all, the bullpen has been huge for the team, which isn’t something anybody expected to say.
- Jose Bautista is back. After a terrible April, the Revenge Tour is finally rolling. Jose had two home runs over the series, and went 3-for-11 overall with a handful of walks and fewer strikeouts than before. His .182 average is bad, but his .641 OPS indicates improvement.
- Justin Smoak has been ridiculous this season. If not for Smoak’s strong play at the plate, the Jays likely wouldn’t be climbing back up the standings. Smoak hit a couple of big home runs against Seattle, and went 6-for-14 overall. His OPS is up to .812, which is better than anyone expected.
- Kevin Pillar and Zeke Carrera have also been huge catalysts at the top of the order. Pillar went 7-for-14 and Carrera 6-for-15, helping spark offence at the top of the order.
- All in all, fuck yeah! That was great stuff. Obviously the Mariners are an easy target because of how broken they are, but still, this group scraping out wins is going to be huge come August and September when, knock on wood, the Jays are healthy.
Things that weren’t good
- Steve Pearce left Sunday’s game with an injury. As poor as Pearce’s start has been, the Jays obviously can’t afford any more injuries. How many times have I said that now?
- I guess in a similar vein, Aaron Sanchez’s messed up finger was bleeding during his start Sunday. He said it wasn’t an issue and he didn’t feel pain, but the fact that this is still an issue is worrisome.
- There are probably some bad things to talk about from this series, but after a four-game sweep, I won’t bother with it. Let’s enjoy this.
The Jays will host the Atlanta Braves for two games on Monday and Tuesday, and then they’ll travel down to Atlanta for two games at SunTrust Park to complete the four-game home-and-home. The Jays won’t see R.A. Dickey, unfortunately, as he’s pitching on Sunday, so they’ll get Big Sexy Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia, Mike Foltynewicz, and Julio Teheran. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but a sweep of Atlanta, which is certainly doable, would put the Jays back at .500 for the first time since they were 0-0.