The Toronto Blue Jays (10-10), fresh off their series win over the Oakland Athletics, welcome the Chicago White Sox (13-6) into town for a three game set.
This series marking the end of the Jays 16 day games played streak (presently 7-6 in the first 13 games of it) before getting a much deserved day off Thursday.
The White Sox sent Miguel Gonzalez (9-12 with a 4.91 ERA in 2015) to the mound to make his season debut while the Blue Jays countered with Ace Marcus Stroman (3-0 with a 4.13 ERA in 4 starts this season).
(BOXSCORE for Mobile)
Now, does anyone remember when, many moons ago, we would discuss the possibility of shifting Brett Lawrie over to Second Base? This was before Devon Travis became a thing in Jays Nation, and before the Lawrie/Donaldson trade, of course.
Well, you'll be interested to know that the White Sox have done just that with our former Third Baseman of the future. And, in the small sample size of about 170 innings, it has gone fairly well.
Lawrie is sporting a 4.5 UZR/150 which, were this 2015 and a full season, would put our favourite cautionary tale of the effects of prolonged Red Bull usage near the Top 5 in the league (7th, actually). He also sometimes makes plays like this.
He's also hitting .299/.373/.433 and has already matched his WAR output from last season (0.6... so... not a big accomplishment, really).
Again, very early days, but it will be interesting to see where it leads.
The game did not start very well for Stroman. Adam Eaton and Jimmy Rollins singled to open the game. Eaton advancing to third on the Rollins single, Rollins to second on the Jose Bautista throw to third. Both safe for Jose Abreu. A fielder's choice by Abreu cashed Eaton in giving the Sox the early 1-0 lead.
A walk to Todd Frazier continued the early struggles but a good defensive play by Edwin Encarnacion on a Melky Cabrera liner alleviated some of the pressure on Stroman and he would get out of the inning only allowing the one run by getting Lawrie to ground out to Donaldson.
1-0 White Sox
Josh Donaldson nearly tied the game up missing a homerun by mere inches having to settle for just a double and being in scoring position for Jose Bautista. Oh, drat. Bautista would walk to put two men on for Encarnacion who would also miss a homerun by mere inches. Silver lining; two runs scored on his double to give the Jays the lead.
By innings end the Jays held a 2-1 lead and Gonzalez was already at 28 pitches, ten of which thrown to Troy Tulowitzki, to continue the Jays seemingly season long trend of making starters work a lot early in the game.
Stroman regrouped in the 2nd with a 1-2-3 inning, helped in part by a great defensive play by Ryan Goins doing a very good Roberto Alomar impression. I don't use the comparison lightly. Judge for yourself.
Goins playing defense, one of the best things about baseball. pic.twitter.com/Js95m6AZvi— Bluebird Banter (@bluebirdbanter) April 25, 2016
Ryan Freakin' Goins, everybody!
In the 3rd inning... he'd do it again. A very similar looking play which I haven't yet found a link to.
In the bottom of the inning, Encarnacion continued his good day singling to center cashing in Bautista from second, who had doubled earlier in the inning, to increase the Jays lead. A bloop single by Tulo (which led to EE being thrown out trying to advance to third) set the table for former lead-off hitter Michael Saunders. Gonzalez tried to slip a fastball by the Jays Left Fielder which proved to be a mistake as Saunders crushed it for a two-run homerun.
5-1 Blue Jays
Skip ahead to the 5th where a leadoff double by Avisail Garcia had the Sox threatening but neither Dioner Navarro, Austin Jackson, or Adam Eaton would be able to bring the runner in to score as Stroman induced two fly ball outs and a pop out to get out of the jam.
Miguel Gonzalez would be pulled in the bottom of the 5th after an Ezequiel Carrera infield single (seriously, how hot has this guy been the last couple games?!). His final line: 5.1 IP, 113 pitches, allowed 5 earned on 11 hits, 2 BB, and racked up 5 K's. Left in line for the loss.
The Jays found themselves in another jam in the 7th when Stroman would allow two runners to reach base (Melky single, Lawrie fielder's choice, Garcia single).
Then, disaster nearly struck. Navarro would line a ball back up the middle and it ricocheted off of Stroman, who appeared to be trying to catch it behind his back, and bounce high into the air. Goins made the play (another fantastic play), but Stroman appeared in some discomfort afterwards.
He was ultimately fine (we think) and stayed in the game after throwing a warm-up pitch, but it took him out of his groove. After walking the bases loaded on four pitches causing Manager John Gibbons to take the righty out of the game.
For the second time in this young season Marcus Stroman would call on the Bullpen to get him out of a bases loaded jam. And, for the second time, they would allow all three runs to score.
Brett Cecil came in to relieve the Jays starter but gave up a single through the middle of the diamond to Eaton allowing two of the runners to score, narrowing the Jays lead to two runs. Rollins singled to left allowing Jackson to score the Sox third run of the inning and closed the book on Stroman.
Final line for Stroman: 6.2 IP, throwing 95 pitches, allowing 4 ER's on 6 hits, 2 BB, and striking out four. He'd leave in line for the win. I suppose it was a disaster in a way, afterall.
Cecil could not record a single out having faced three batters, allowing all his inherited runners to score, and left the game with the bases loaded. Gavin Floyd would come in to relieve Cecil and promptly give up a two-run double off the bat of Frazier. And like that, the Jays four run lead had become a one run deficit. He'd eventually get Lawrie to strike out but the damage had been done.
6-5 White Sox
Pat Venditte came in for Floyd in the 8th and struck out Eaton but would be removed in the 9th after giving up a leadoff double to Rollins, who would go on to steal 3rd, and then walking Jose Abreu. Jesse Chavez would take over with two on and none out but despite having a 1-2-3 inning, including two K's, he would allow the Sox's seventh run to cross home plate on a Frazier sac fly to center scoring Rollins.
7-5 White Sox
David Robertson came in to face the heart of the Blue Jays lineup in the bottom of the 9th. Donaldson would weakly fly out to center before Bautista put a charge into a ball splitting the outfielders and falling in for a double with 1-out in the 9th. Encarnacion grounded out leaving the hopes for a comeback squarely on the shoulders of Tulowitzki.
Putting the hopes for the comeback squarely on the shoulders of Saunders. And, in a season of weird endings, we got another one in this game. Saunders chopped a ball off the plate towards second. It looked, at least to me, as though Saunders would probably beat out anything short of a perfect catch and transfer. Tulo, running between 1st and 2nd, tried desperately to avoid the baseball, first by stopping, then by trying to run passed the Sox fielder as he attempted to play it but would instead inadvertently get hit by it, causing the third out of the inning, and ending the ball game.
Jays Lose 7-5
Brett Cecil (-.280) and Gavin Floyd (-.270) get the suckage tonight for their complete inability to hold onto a four run lead.
The two will be back at it again tomorrow. R.A Dickey (1-2 and a 6.10 ERA) will go to the mound for the Blue Jays against Chris Sale (4-0 with a 1.80 ERA). Strap in, this could get rough.