Perpetually spectacular pitching, thy name is Cleveland.
In an unsurprising sequence of events, the Cleveland Indians, owners of one of baseball’s most competent and consistent pitching staffs, quieted the Blue Jays bats in a swift three-game series at Rogers Centre this week. Led valiantly by Shane Bieber, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Wednesday, the Indians left Toronto with a pair of well-earned victories.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the weird from this week’s tilts against the Tribe:
With the team only managing to put five runs on the board the entire series, offensive positives were hard to find. Still, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (4-for-8, 2B, 2 BB) shone, albeit quietly, while Justin Smoak (3-for-10, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB) had a clutch middle game, perhaps single-handedly winning the game for the Blue Jays.
Marcus Stroman (7.0 IP, 5 H, R/ER, BB, 6 SO, L) was fantastic in the finale, which could possibly be his last start in a Blue Jays uniform, while relievers Joe Biagini (2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 2 SO), Ken Giles (1.0 IP, H, 0 R/ER, BB, SO, W), Derek Law (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER), and David Phelps (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 2 SO) were all solid.
For the first time in a while, Aaron Sanchez (5.0 IP, 5 H, R/ER, 0 BB, 6 SO) had an impressive start, looking incredibly confident on the mound and asserting his fastball to a variety of hitters.
Most of the team’s big bats, including Eric Sogard (2-for-12, R, 2B, BB, 2 SO), Cavan Biggio (0-for-7, BB, 2 SO), Freddy Galvis (1-for-13, 5 SO), Randal Grichuk (1-for-10, 3 SO), and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (1-for-7, BB, 2 SO, CS) all struggled, while Brandon Drury (0-for-3, SO) and Luke Maile (0-for-2, SO) continued to falter at the dish.
Elsewhere in the lineup, Teoscar Hernandez (1-for-6, BB, 3 SO) was less than stellar, as was Danny Jansen (0-for-6, R, 2 SO).
On the mound, relievers Wilmer Font (1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER) and Sam Gaviglio (1.0 IP, 2 H, R/ER) were roughed up in limited innings, while the now questionably healthy Justin Shafer (0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R/ER, 2 BB) was lit up in his own right.
Tuesday’s middle game, which ended with a Justin Smoak walk-off base hit in the 10th inning, was broadcasted exclusively on YouTube, the first of many that Major League Baseball will be broadcasting on the platform this season. While there were definitely some interesting moments, many fans criticized the broadcast (and broadcasters) for the style, pace, and content of the presentation.
After a quick off-day on Thursday, the Blue Jays (now 39-65) will welcome the 58-47 Tampa Bay Rays to town in a series which will feature Jacob Waguespack (1-0, 5.68 ERA, 20 SO) and Ryan Borucki (0-1, 3.86 ERA, 3 SO) going up against Blake Snell (6-7, 4.28 ERA, 136 SO) and Yonny Chirinos (8-5, 3.29 ERA, 102 SO).
The Rays have yet to announce a starter for Friday’s game, while the Blue Jays have yet to announce a starter for Sunday afternoon’s game.