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Rays down Blue Jays in wild weekend clash

In what was easily the season’s most exciting series thus far, the Blue Jays, despite mounting two incredible comebacks in games one and two, lost this weekend’s series to the first-place(!) Tampa Bay Rays.

Thanks to some great pitching and timely hitting, the boys in blue were able to take a single game, but floundered in the finale and were out-pitching and out-hit through most of the series.

Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the weird from the first of many series against Tampa:

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The Good

On the hill, Thomas Pannone (4.0 IP, 5 SO, 0 H, 0 BB) was outstanding, thanks chiefly to an immaculate inning in Sunday’s finale. Marcus Stroman (4.0 IP, 5 SO, 4 BB, E, 0 ER) was also decent while new Blue Jay Clay Buchholz (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 SO, 0 BB, 1.00 WHIP) was stellar in his debut. Encouragingly, the starting pitching remained, for the most part, solid.

Freddy Galvis (3-for-14, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) had himself yet another solid series while Alen Hanson (2-for-9, RBI, BB), Billy McKinney (3-for-9, HR, 2 2B), and Luke Maile (3-for-6, BB) showed signs of life at the dish.

The Bad

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Many of the team’s most disappointing hitters, namely Brandon Drury (0-for-7, 6 SO) and Socrates Brito (0-for-3, BB) continued that trend this series, as did Randal Grichuk (2-for-7, BB, 4 SO) and Danny Jansen (1-for-4, BB, SO).

On the mound, Trent Thornton (3.0 IP, 2 BB, 5 ER, 8 H) was roughed up, while relievers Tim Mayza (0.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, BB) and Javy Guerra (1.1 IP, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 H) also allowed their fair share of runs, the latter currently boasting an abominable ERA of 7.94 in 8.0 frames so far this season.

Rookie Elvis Luciano (2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO) also struggled quite a bit, while Lourdes Gurriel Jr., in addition to committing a dreadful error at second base in the finale, went 2-for-7 but drove in four runs and struck out just once.

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The Weird

In the third inning of Friday’s game, Rays DH Austin Meadows (who Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez erroneously called Auston Matthews on the broadcast Saturday) and Brandon Lowe both hit home runs into the 500-level seats, becoming the first teammates to do so at Rogers Centre in the same game, let alone the same inning.

Additionally, Pannone’s immaculate inning, which featured several foul balls and some quite generous calls in his favour, was somewhat historic for the franchise. He becomes just the third Blue Jay to toss an immaculate inning. The others? Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens and 2013 All-Star Steve Delabar.

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Looking Ahead

The bewildered Blue Jays head to Minnesota Monday to start a four-game series against the Twins (7-4). In the opener, Matt Shoemaker (3-0, 0.92 ERA, 19 SO) is set to oppose Martin Perez (1-0, 7.56 ERA, 12 SO) with Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 1.69 ERA, 16 SO) and Trent Thornton (0-1, 4.61 ERA, 18 SO) facing off against Kyle Gibson (0-0, 7.71 ERA, 8 SO) and Jake Odorizzi (0-2, 6.35, 15 SO) in the proceeding two games.

The Blue Jays have yet to announce a starter for Thursday afternoon’s game, which will feature Michael Pineda (2-0, 3.00 ERA, 15 SO) toeing the rubber for the Twins.