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Photo Credit: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A big strike zone helped Martin Perez carve up the Blue Jays on Sunday

Winning the first two games of the series was an absolute must for the Blue Jays. John Schneider had planned for a bullpen day on Sunday, and the Blue Jays were facing Martin Perez, the Rangers’ ace in the series finale.

Toronto couldn’t overcome the above, as they fell to Texas 4-1 and failed to sweep the series.

Perez was dealing, which should come as no surprise since he has been having a career season with the Rangers. He was a hot topic at the trade deadline, as he was a name that floated around trade talks with a few teams including the Blue Jays. Perez threw six innings, giving up six hits, one run, two walks, and striking out seven.

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Perez was solid, but he also got a few beneficial calls from home plate umpire Rob Drake. Multiple Blue Jays hitters were displeased with Drake’s strike zone, mainly Bo Bichette. Bichette went 1-for-4 on the day, but in all three of his at-bats resulting in outs, he took issue with at least one of Drake’s calls. This included his strikeout looking in the top of the 3rd, in which Bichette stopped to have a back-and-forth with Drake explaining that he felt differently about Drake’s Doug Eddings-esque strike zone. Bo was also shown reacting vividly lining out in the 7th, an at-bat that featured another questionable call.

As previously mentioned, it was a bullpen day for the Jays in an effort to push Jose Berrios to the upcoming Rays series. Trevor Richards served as the “opener”, and he ran himself into trouble early on. Richards allowed an RBI double to Nate Lowe with one out, and followed that by loading the bases. David Phelps cleaned up the mess, getting out of the inning with no further damage.

That gave way to Yusei Kikuchi, who was expected to eat up a few innings. Kikuchi kicked off the third with a single from Lowe, and then left a middle-middle fastball to Adolis Garcia. Garcia did what any professional hitter should’ve done to that pitch, as he put it in the seats to give Texas a 3-0 lead. Kikuchi would load the bases in the 4th, but Zach Pop came in and stranded the baserunners.

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Pop and Julian Merryweather threw scoreless outings to keep Toronto afloat. Teoscar Hernandez got the Blue Jays on the board with an RBI double to score Bichette in the top of the 6th. That would be it for the Jays offensively, as they were 0-for-10 with RISP, and left 10 batters on base. While the umpiring was frustrating, those numbers are still very telling.

Anthony Bass gave up a solo home run to Leody Taveras in the bottom of the 8th, solidifying the win for Texas.

Despite the loss, Toronto completes this road trip going 8-2. They also win the season series with the Rangers 4-2, giving us an opportunity to mention that the Rangers have suffered six straight losing seasons and have still never won a World Series.

All games now are critical, but the Jays enter the biggest series on the year on Monday against Tampa Bay. It’s a five game series, with Jose Berrios kicking things off against an undecided pitcher. We can safely assume the Rays will start a reclamation project pitcher who owns a career 5.50 ERA, and will decide to have a Cy Young performance against the Blue Jays.

The Rays lost today, so they still own a 0.5 game lead over the Jays in the standings. This could very well be a series that we all look back on once the regular season ends.


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