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Photo Credit: © Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

Series Recap: The Jays earn a split with the Yankees after a horrible start

The new supercharged Yankees, the team who’s already being crowned World Series Champions, pounded the a listless looking Jays squad in the first two games of the season, but Toronto battled back and won the other two games in the series to earn a split in the four-game set.

I would call that a successful start to the season. If you had told me this time last week the Jays would split with New York, I’d have happily taken it.

What happened?

On Thursday, Luis Severino completely shut the Jays’ offence down over five-and-two-thirds innings. Toronto only mustered two hits on Opening Day and Giancarlo Stanton went deep twice in his Yankees debut. Ugly, ugly start. 6-1 Yankees. 

On Friday, the offence was stagnant yet again as Masahiro Tanaka held the Jays to one run on three hits over six innings. Aaron Sanchez looked good for the most part but ran out of gas before allowing the Yankees to have a big sixth inning. 4-1 Yankees.

On Saturday, Marco Estrada was excellent, scattering three runs over seven innings. The offence finally woke up, as Justin Smoak had three hits, Yangervis Solarte hit a go-ahead bomb, and Kevin Pillar stole home. 5-3 Blue Jays. 

On Sunday, Justin Smoak basically singlehandedly lifted the Jays to a win. Marcus Stroman had a good start, the ‘pen slammed the door, and Smoak hit two bombs including a grand slam in the eighth inning off of David Robertson. 7-4 Blue Jays. 

Thoughts…

  • Justin Smoak is still Actually Good, which is incredibly fucking important to this team’s success. There was obviously a lot of skepticism that Smoak’s out-of-the-blue breakout season in 2017 was an anomaly but he’s putting that to rest quickly. Smoak’s game on Sunday was incredible, with two bombs including the grand slam. But the at-bat against Robertson really was something. He fought of pitch after pitch before essentially demanding that fastball and driving it out of the park. Robertson is a good pitcher and it’s impressive Smoak won that battle. All told, he’s 7-for-15 with a couple of homers and eight runs driven in.Actually Good! Actually Good! Actually Good!
  • The offence, beyond Smoak, really, gave a lot to be desired in this series. Kevin Pillar is raking because it’s April and that’s what he does in April, and, like I said, Smoak is killing it, but otherwise, the Jays didn’t get much offensive contribution from elsewhere in the lineup. Things did seem to get better as time went along though. They had like seven hits in the first two games combined and then they had 12 hits on Sunday, but the Jays have already struck out 45 times this season.
  • The one thing that has been very good so far has been the Blue Jays’ pitching. The relief pitching, especially. After the first game in which the ‘pen got tagged for a few runs, Jays relievers tossed nine-and-a-third innings without allowing a run. The ‘pen was key in both comeback wins on Saturday and Sunday and a bunch of different guys were a part of it. Speaking of Justin Smoak being still Actually Good, it’s nice to see Ryan Tepera and Danny Barnes, who breakout pitchers from last season expected to play key roles this year, pitching well to start the season.

Up next…

The White Sox, who are supposed to be very bad but are undefeated through two games, will roll into Toronto for a three-game series on Monday. Chicago’s offence has been quite good through their two games against the very shitty Royals. So, yeah, those results don’t actually mean anything. This is a great opportunity to build on the successful split with New York and get off to a good start this season.