Starting off a series against the division rival Red Sox, the Jays needed to bounce back from their rough end against the Tigers. To do so, they’d look to Marcus Stroman. The Jays got out in front early, something we rarely see, with a Kendrys Morales double off of the green monster and an incredibly awkward slide from Justin Smoak. Pearce kept things rolling in the second, blasting a ball to left that is more than likely still hanging up in the stratosphere somewhere.
The three runs wouldn’t be enough to hold off the Red Sox though, as they would make a comeback bid in the seventh. Following an error, the Red Sox started to string together some runs. Thankfully, after tieing up the game, however, Betts would run through a stop sign trying to score from first and the Jays nailed him at home ending the inning. The Jays immediately got the lead back in the top of the eighth and then left it Tepera and Osuna to shut the door.
Baustista'S golden sombrero 😬
Pearce again 👏👏👏
— Blue Jays Nation (@thejaysnation) July 18, 2017
Starting Pitchers Lines:
Marcus Stroman (ND): 6.2 IP 5 H 3 R 0 ER 3 BB 5 SO
Eduardo Rodriguez (ND): 5.1 IP 6 H 3 R 3 ER 4 BB 8 SO
Kendys Morales had himself a day for the Jays going 3 for 4. The three hits resulted in a team leading 31.1% WPA, just under 10% higher than any other Jay.
The Blue Jay that hurt the team’s chances the most tonight was another bat as well. Troy Tulowitzki, who was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts on the night, hurt the Jays odds by 17.6%
As a whole, the lineup put forward a positive outing, pushing the Jays 16.7% closer to victory. The majority of the line-up contribution came off of two bats (Morales and Pearce), but lately, if there’s a positive number from the lineup, proponents it’s a damn good thing.
Pitching was the story for the Jays in terms of probability added last night. Despite a -14% from Dominic Leone, the arms still all combined for a 33.3% WPA. The Stro Show and the pen were definitely huge proponents in the win.
Highest Leverage At Bat:
The Blue Jays highest leverage at bat came with Steve Pearce at the dish. Following a seventh inning that saw the Red Sox tie it up, the Jays looked primed to strike back. With only one away, and Smoak and Morales on first and third, even just a sacrifice fly would give the Jays a late eighth inning lead. Pearce made no mistake against Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree, singling to left putting the Jays up 4-3.
Highest Leverage Opponent At Bat:
The highest leverage at bat came for the Red Sox in the seventh inning of last nights game. With the Jays up 3-0, and only one away, the Red Sox loaded the bases for Brock Holt. The range of outcomes was massive, anywhere from a ground ball getting the Jays out of the inning scot-free, or a grand-slam giving the Red Sox a late lead. The result landed somewhere in between, however, with Holt hitting a sacrifice fly for the second out, but scoring Benintendi closing the gap to 3-1.
Highest Impact At Bat:
Right before Pearce stepped up to knock in what would end up being the game winning run, Kendys Morales was responsible for the Jays highest leverage at bat. With Smoak leading off the eighth with a walk, the Morales single that advanced Smoak to third added a game high 17.4% chance to the Jays chances.
Highest Impact Opponent At Bat:
The Red Sox highest leverage at bat was an odd one last night, as it would result in full 14% WPA, but also ended in an out. In the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second Pedroia ripped a liner to center scoring Vasquez from second and tieing the game. That was all the damage done on the play, however, the Jays then getting Mookie Betts at home to end the inning deadlocked at three.
The Jays go into game two tonight against the Sox with JA Happ taking the mound. The goal here, you would imagine, is to string together some wins and not piss away an early series lead again.
(h/t to fangraphs.com for WPA chart and statistics)