David Price was strong tonight and the Blue Jays bats had no problem with Shelby Miller as they dispatched the Braves with little problem. Edwin Encarnacion made his return to the lineup and reached in all five plate appearances.
The Blue Jays got the game off on the right foot in the first inning when Ben Revere concluded a solid at bat with a single. Jose Bautista came up shortly after and blasted a Shelby Miller fastball for a double to left field scoring Revere to make it 1-0. The righty Miller was struggling with control issues from the get-go and Edwin Encarnacion hit a hard single to left field on a fastball down Broadway to put runners on the corners. Russell Martin was the next man up and slugged another fastball to left for a double (plus an error advancing him to third), which scored both Bautista and Encarnacion to bring the score to 3-0. There was a scary moment on the play as the relay home smashed EE on the back of the head which shook the first baseman up, but he looked to walk it off after a moment. With Martin standing on third, a Ryan Goins sac fly easily scored the Canadian catcher and stretched the Jays lead to four.
David Price took the mound with a comfy lead, but quickly found himself in trouble. Jays-killer Nick Markakis doubled down the first base line and was moved over in the next at bat. The first pitch to Freddie Freeman completed the job, as the lefty hitter brought Markakis home on a sac fly. Despite being hit hard, that was all of the damage the Braves could muster scoreboard-wise in the first frame.
The next few innings saw both pitchers have to deal with a few baserunners each, but nothing of note ended up transpiring. In the bottom of the third, Ryan Goins did his best to make Jays fans forget about Troy Tulowitzki by doing this:
The top of the fourth saw another Jays run put on the board thanks to some good old-fashioned small ball from the bottom of the order. Cliff Pennington walked and moved over to second on strange balk by Shelby Miller, which only Pennington noticed at first. The black hole of the pitcher's spot came up next, but David Price handled the bat like a pro and moved the runner to third with a slow roller to the right side. The leadoff hitter, Ben Revere, finished the job with a sac fly to right field to make it 5-1 for the Blue Jays. A two-out rally got started after that with Josh Donaldson doubling and Jose Bautista walking before Miller was pulled from the game, bringing an end to an out of character poor start for the Braves ace. The righty left the mound yelling at the umpire presumably about his zone, but he never looked very sharp himself over the course of his 3.2 innings of work. Sugar Ray Marimon came into the game and couldn't throw a strike with his slider, walking Encarnacion without much of a fight. He settled down and retired Russell Martin on a soft groundout to third though, leaving the bases loaded.
The fifth brought more scoring for the good guys, once again ignited by the bottom of the order. Ryan Goins drew a solid leadoff walk before Kevin Pillar hit a double to Nick Swisher which the left fielder misread and allowed to fly over his head. Cliff Pennington showed off his small ball ability again, driving home a run with a ground ball to second base. After Price was retired, Ben Revere kept his solid night going by doubling home Pillar to make the score 7-1 and the outcome of the game was all but decided.
It started coming apart a bit for David Price in the bottom of the frame as he walked the first two hitters, before the dangerous Markakis stepped up to the plate. The former Orioles player hit a looping ball into shallow right field where Cliff Pennington failed to haul it in. In the chaos, the Jays second baseman was able to get the ball back to Ryan Goins who recorded the force-out at second before the shortstop relayed the ball to Josh Donaldson who got the sliding runner at third to record the rare 4-6-5 double play. This relieved some of the pressure, which was a good thing considering that the next batter hit a single that moved Markakis to second base. Price was finally able to get out of the inning unscathed as he struck out Freddie Freeman, who has his struggles against southpaws.
Kevin Pillar got hit near the elbow with a pitch in the seventh, but remained in the game despite looking slightly the worse for wear. The Braves got out of that inning on a Price double play and the score remained 7-1. The lefty starter stayed in and pitched around two singles in the bottom half, before getting the handshakes in the dugout which brought his night to an end. His final line was 7.0 IP with one earned run allowed on six hits to go along with nine strikeouts and three walks. Price looked pretty solid tonight, despite some hard hit balls and command issues against the weak Braves lineup. Not his best start, but by no means his worst.
Aaron Loup walked his only batter faced in the eighth, but Liam Hendriks came in and pounded the zone getting three quick outs. In the ninth, Russell Martin hit a two-run bomb (his 20th) off Ryan Kelly to right-center that made it 9-1. Ryan Tepera came in to finish off the game for the Jays and looked pretty good, allowing a single hit.
Jays of the Day are David Price (+.103 WPA), Jose Bautista (.121) and Russell Martin (.117) who also made a nice defensive play on a roller right in front of the plate. There are no Suckage Jays in this one, thanks to the game never really featuring any high-leverage situations after the top of the first. Edwin Encarnacion gets an honourable JOTD mention as he returned from his injury going 3-3 with two walks.
This graph really illustrates how calm this game was for the Blue Jays:
The Blue Jays will look for the series win tomorrow as Marco Estrada and his increasing HR-rate face off against Matt Wisler. You'd have to favour the Jays in that matchup, but you never know what can happen. See you then!
*Gerse is summoned*: 61 people mashed a bunch of keys and produced 1,110 comments. In one fantasy league that I run, the person who finishes in 7th place gets their money back while the person in 2nd gets nothing, so let's focus today on JaysWillRise, who came in 7th with 67 comments. Adequate job!
Knight of Hyrule