OK, maybe the Blue Jays should stop hitting leadoff home runs in Cleveland on May 1. Eight years ago--on May 1, 2007--Alex Rios led off the game with a homer to left at Progressive Field but an ineffective A.J. Burnett led to a 12-4 Indians win. On May 1, 2015, the Blue Jays got an early 1-0 lead on a Josh Donaldson leadoff homer but ended up falling to the Indians 9-4 behind a poor effort from a struggling Mark Buehrle.
But before we get into the game, it's time for our new daily game recap tradition, a Kevin Pillar defensive highlight:
Pillar should get his own Statcast channel. Take a look at that catch, Pillar pretty much straight-lined towards the wall, lept, and took a double away from Jason Kipnis by catching the ball at the apex of his jump while managing to hold onto the ball after crashing into the Stanley sign. Hopefully he will be getting some free products and services from Stanley and MNP later this season.
Mark Buehrle, the thirty-six-year-old southpaw, didn't have it today. He had command issues, throwing just 51 of his 80 pitches for strikes, and the ones that were strikes often caught too much of the plate and ended up being hit hard. Buehrle, who has been known to over-perform his peripherals, now has a 6.75 ERA, but hey, his FIP and xFIP are just 5.94 and 4.68, respectively!
The Blue Jays provided two leads for Buehrle and he blew both immediately. Donaldson's homer in the top of the first was cancelled out by Kipnis's own solo shot in the bottom of the first. The Jays hung three runs in the third on an Edwin Encarnacion double and a Kevin Pillar triple to the gap a few steps out of the reach of Michael Bourn. The three runs came with a cost: Donaldson hurt himself running and played the rest of the game with a noticeable limp.
The Indians answered with three of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Buehrle started it with a leadoff walk followed by a Kipnis single just out of the reach of Tiny Jonathan Diaz, both of whom scored when Brandon Moss drilled a fastball that caught too much of the plate for a double to the right field corner. A Lonnie Chisenhall fielder's choice tied the game. Despite his struggles on he mound, Buehrle was sharp as an infielder, snagging a comebacker to his right while falling off the mound, and flipping it to Russell Martin for the force at home. That inning could've been worse.
So could've the fourth inning. Buehrle befitted from Pillar's Catch du Jour and a great relay on Mike Aviles double to the corner. Michael Saunders relayed it to Ryan Goins who threw a strike to Martin at home who touched a sliding Michael Bourn ever so slightly to tag him out. It was so slight that the umpire--and probably most people watching at home--thought that the tag missed. However, Martin pointed to the dugout to ask for a review right away and the call was reversed. Those two plays limited the damage to two runs, which came in the next at bat with a Michael Brantley homer to centre field.
Desperate for some innings from his starters, John Gibbons sent Buehrle back out to the mound for the top of the fifth with his club trailing 6-4. It didn't turn out well. A leadoff flyout led to back-to-back singles that knocked Buehrle out of the ballgame. Canadian Andrew Albers was waved in to make his Blue Jays debut and was rudely greeted by a second pitch three-run homer by Brett Hayes. Buehrle's final line: 4.1 innings pitched, 11 hits, 8 earned runs, 2 walks, a strikeout, and two home runs, a game score of 8.
The Hayes homer was the only hit Albers gave up for the rest of his 2.2 innings, although he did walk two. Miguel Castro was brought in to pitch the eighth in a low-leverage situation. The first two runners reached (one on an error), but he got a groundball then two big swinging strikeouts to get out of it.
After the three-run third, the Blue Jays recorded three hits the rest of the way, including a pinch-hit double by Justin Smoak in the ninth that meant nothing.
At least that game went pretty quickly, just two hours and thirty-seven minutes.
Jays of the Day! Josh Donaldson (+.186 WPA) had a good day in his debut as a leadoff hitter, going 2-for-3 with a walk in addition to that leadoff homer that cursed the team, and Kevin Pillar (+.156) who had a two-run triple and the catch.
Suckage Jays are Mark Buehrle (-.548 WPA) and Russell Martin (-.179). Andrew Albers (-.107) had the numbers for it but he was OK after that homer so I'll transfer some of those negative WPA points to Buehrle.
Aaron Sanchez starts tomorrow against Corey Kluber at 4:10 pm (the proper time for Saturday games if you ask me). The Blue Jays are counting on Sanchez, who looked better in his last start, to go at least five in order to save another roster move for a fresh reliever. The Jays are also counting on Donaldson being in the lineup tomorrow.
Please acquire some pitching for this club, Alex Anthopoulos.