Under the protective dome of Chase Field, neither Esmil Rogers nor Brandon McCarthy laboured much as they SSSlocked in a classic pitchers' duel as the Blue Jays beat the Diamondbacks 4-1 in a quick two-hour 17-minute Labour / Labor Day affair.
McCarthy looked great, limiting the Blue Jays to three hits going into the ninth. The Blue Jays only touched him in two innings: the second and the ninth. In the second, the Blue Jays grabbed an early lead when Kevin Pillar singled in a Moises Sierra double, then Anthony Gose followed with a triple to right field, scoring Pillar to put the blue birds up 2-0. The Blue Jays have had three triples in the last four days, with Gose contributing two of them and Rajai Davis the other. McCarthy carved through the lineup and was perfect from the fourth through the eighth. Hewas helped by his defense: Ryan Goins was robbed by a terrific diving catch by Gerardo Parra in the top of the sixth.
But Ryan Goins started the ninth with a single that dropped right in front of Adam Eaton. Up stepped Edwin Encarnacion who crushed a bad sinker to the left field stands for his 35th homer of the season, and recording his 100th and 101st runs batted in. McCarthy was saddled with a loss in his second complete-game outing of the season.
Esmil Rogers allowed no runs and just a single hit in his outing (a Martin Prado single) while striking out five. He retired 13 batters in a row after that Prado single before leading off the seventh with a walk. He struck out the next batter, but John Gibbons took him out of the game in favour of Sergio Santos with Paul Goldschmidt coming up to bat. Goldschmidt recorded a very loud foul into deep left field in the bottom of the fourth. After allowing homers in each of his previous five outings, Rogers kept the ball on the ground this time out, allowing only three fair balls to leave the infield. He probably tuned in to the pre-game segment when Gregg Zaun reminded him to re-discover his sinker.
Santos promptly walked Goldschmidt but got Eric Chavez to hit into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. Unexpectedly, Gibbons allowed Santos to come up to bat for himself in the top of the eighth in a close 2-0 game even though he had plans to bring in Steve Delabar in the eighth. In Santos's first major league plate appearance, he grounded out 5-3 (Esmil Rogers also grounded out 5-3 in his two at bats). Santos was once a shortstop in the minor leagues, but his last professional plate appearance came five years ago on August 31, 2008 when he was a Rochester Red Wing.
Delabar gave up a single but that was promptly erased by an inning-ending double play, so he ended up throwing just six pitches in his return from the disabled list, hitting 94-96 mph on his fastball.
After Encarnacion extended the lead to 4-0, Aaron Loup was brought in to replace Delabar and was ineffective, allowing a Cliff Pennington double and allowing pinch hitter Willie Bloomquist to single Pennington home after a wild pitch. With the righty pinch hitter A.J. Pollock announced and the save situation restored, Gibbons brought in Casey Janssen.
Unfortunately, Janssen continued his recent struggles, not being able to find the strikezone, walking Pollock on five pitches. He got Adam Eaton to fly out to bring up Goldschmidt, who had an NL-leading +6.941 WPA coming into the game. Janssen shoudl've fallen behind 3-1 to the slugger but home plate umpire Alan Porter gave him a huge gift call for strike two before Goldschmidt grounded out to a game-ending double play.
The Diamondbacks hit into four inning-ending double plays this game (second, seventh, eighth, ninth), making it the 13th time a Blue Jays opponent have done so in franchise history.
Jays of the Day! Esmil Rogers (+.345 WPA), Sergio Santos (+.113), Steve Delabar (+.095), and Casey Janssen (+.094) but I am tempted to take half of the JoD award from Janssen for another heart attack inducing outing.
No suckage Jays today, but Aaron Loup (-.074) got the low number.
Before the game the Blue Jays awarded Brett Lawrie with Player of the Month honours for his sizzling .346/.397/.495 line and his eye-popping defensive gems in August.