That last game? Hell yeah. Everything else? Yuck. What a weird series, something nobody expected from four games against the random, forgettable Braves.
On Monday, the Jays were rolling hot on momentum from a five-game winning streak. And it all fell flat. Mike Bolsinger struggled with command, allowing six runs, five earned, over just four-and-two-thirds innings. The Jays didn’t have a hard time scoring runs, but they couldn’t contain Atlanta’s lineup. 10-6 Braves.
On Tuesday, Marco Estrada went up against Jaime Garcia. Neither start was particularly good, as Estrada allowed five runs in six innings, his worst start against anybody other than Tampa Bay. The Jays battled back over and over, but their pitching would keep giving it away. 9-5 Braves.
On Wednesday, Joe Biagini got hammered for six runs in the first inning before managing to record an out. Despite the game essentially being over before it started, things got hot in Atlanta, with the benches clearing twice and Jose Bautista pimping a solo homer late in the game. 8-4 Braves.
On Thursday, things were supposed to go crazy, but the only crazy thing about it was how badly the Braves got slammed. Julio Teheran beaned Bautista, but he quickly came around to score. Then Darrell Ceciliani, Luke Maile, and Marcus Stroman homered, giving the Jays one of their best wins of the season. 9-0 Blue Jays.
Despite that last game being amazing, this was largely a frustrating series. The Jays came in with a chance to really turn around their season because, ya know, Atlanta is junk, but they just fell flat. Obviously injuries hurt, but oddly enough, pitching was the issue for the team in this series.
Things that were good
- That entire last game, really. Hell yeah, that was great. The team badly needed something good after the first three games, which featured, amazingly, some of the most frustrating losses of the season. Marcus Stroman homering was something else. Devon Travis’ reaction was perfect. And Josh Donaldson on Twitter summed it up nicely too.
- Jose Bautista had a damn good series, going 8-for-16. He’s worked his OPS all the way up to a respectable .723, and his wRC+ is sitting at just a shade under 100. His bat flip in the third game seemed unnecessary and poorly timed, but you have to wonder when Bautista does things like this if there’s a hidden agenda to it. It almost seems as if he’s trying to either rally the team or move attention away from them when things are bad and on to him. Or maybe I’m reading too far into it because I’m a Bautista apologist. Regardless, he’s heating up, and it’s good.
- Speaking of turning it around, Devon Travis went 6-for-11 over the series, hitting two doubles in back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday. His numbers in April vs May are ridiculous. In April, he had a .388 OPS, in May, it’s up to .903. I don’t think anybody is surprised Devo is hitting like a star again. It was just a matter of time.
- Justin Smoak continued his huge season, belting a couple of homers. He’s already up to nine on the season, and is nearly halfway to his career high of 20. Where would this team be without Smoak? I can’t believe I’m saying that, but I’m also thrilled to be doing so.
- Marcus Stroman had a strong start on Thursday, and that bad outing in New York in which he left with a sore arm seems to be totally behind him. He also hit a home run. I have no issue bringing it up again.
Things that weren’t good
- The first three games of the series! Yuck!
- The pitching overall in those three games was poor. You expect it from Bolsinger, who’s here to eat innings and do his best, but Estrada and Biagini were both uncharacteristically bad this week. Estrada’s five earned runs over six was his worst of the season, right there with his two struggles at the Trop in Tampa, while Biagini’s six earned runs before recording an out ended a streak of nine scoreless innings as a starter. The relievers struggled, too, as Danny Barnes, Joe Smith, and Dominic Leone, who have all been excellent, got tagged.
- The frustrating thing about those first three games is how small things seemed to turn things so dramatically. In the first game, Bolsinger was left in too long, getting tagged for a couple of runs in the fifth inning when he really should have been done after four. In the second game, a bad call by John Gibbons in which he had Travis, hot as fire, bunt rather than swing away with runners on first and second, played a big part in killing a rally. Then in the third game, Joe Biagini got a ground ball but threw poorly to second, which seemed to rattle him as he went on to allow six runs. As lopsided as some of those scores were, it really seems like the Jays were right in them, making the losses even more frustrating.
- Continuing on with Wednesday’s game… Fuck. What a gongshow that was.
- Kevin Pillar used a homophobic slur, which really, really sucks. His apology was sincere, it seems, but it’s just a reminder about a major issue within the sport that alienates so many. I hope the Jays do something positive for the LGBTQ community. Many other teams have Pride nights, but they don’t.
- Then there was the whole bat flip fiasco, which we’re all used to by this point. It brought out the worst in everyone. The Braves got mad, which, I mean, sure, but then took it so far that they were saying there was going to be a fight in the final game. It’s irritating how high strung people around baseball are over stuff like this. Case and point, this fucking dickwagon. He calls the Jays losers, which is odd, because, uh, Atlanta sucks some serious ass, then starts listing players who should be beaned, and then asks for his diaper to be changed in a strangely roundabout way. Oh, fuck, and Jace (Jace??? What the hell kind of name?) Petersen autographed a photo of the Odor punch. What the hell is wrong with people?
- And finally, Freddie Freeman was injured in Wednesday’s game on an Aaron Loup pitch, which is a damn shame. Freeman was having an amazing season, and will miss a couple of months. You never like to see that happen.
- Darrell Ceciliani also left Thursday’s game with an injury, which came as he was homering off of Julio Teheran. 2017!
Braves fans yelling "go back to Canada!" pic.twitter.com/WjG5zi489p— Blue Jays Nation (@thejaysnation) May 19, 2017
The Jays will head to Camden for three with the Trash Birds. Tensions are already high, it seems, so where better to go?! We’ll see Aaron Sanchez Friday, Mike Bolsinger Saturday, and Marco Estrada on Sunday, while the O’s will counter with Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, and Wade Miley.