The Blue Jays came into today trying to salvage their four-game series with the Yankees after a thrilling finish Saturday night. But these are the Yankees and the Blue Jays were horrific in games when they had the chance to reach .500, so not much should be expected, right?
- Marcus Stroman actually pitched better than his line indicated. He ran into trouble after striking out the first two hitters of the third, walking Stanton and then giving up a double, single, and homer, but was cruising before and after that. Stroman came into today with a pitch limit of 85, and his collection of three walks and eight strikeouts strikeouts is why he didn’t get to go deeper than five innings. Still, he showed no rust after missing a huge chunk of his spring with that shoulder issue.
- Speaking of strikeouts, the Blue Jays were maddening for the most part of this afternoon. Before the Jays got to Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson in the 8th and 9th, starter Sonny Gray and Chad Green fanned 12 of them in three innings. The team’s hitters are up to 45 strikeouts after the first series.
- What else can I say about Justin Smoak that wasn’t said last year? He recorded three hits on his bobblehead day yesterday afternoon and followed that up by driving in six runs today. The game looked pretty much lost until the seventh inning when Smoak pulled the Jays to within one with his two-run home run. Then, in the next inning, hit the go-ahead grand slam to make it a 7-4 game after Donaldson was intentionally walked in front of him. I get that Robertson has a “history” against JD, a small sample of three hits in eight at-bats, but Justin Smoak hit 38 home runs last year and was a legitimate slugger. To further the “Justin Smoak is still good” theory: he hit the grand slam on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded, down one. The two pitches prior, both on 3-2, were both knuckle curves in the strike zone. He was good enough to foul both off and then hammer the fastball. That doesn’t just happen accidentally. If he keeps showing that type of awareness and discipline at the plate, we’re in for another monster year from the first baseman.