Through the middle of the 6th inning, Marcus Stroman and Kenta Maeda were locked in a scoreless duel, both in complete control mercilessly mowing through the order. It was in the bottom if the 6th that a very orderly game was upended into a roller coaster ride the rest of the way.
Having rolled twice through the Jays order with just one hit allowed (which was immediately erased as Yasiel Puig nailed Darwin Barney trying to stretch it to a double) though three walks, Maeda walked Donaldson with 1 out to bring up a scuffling Jose Bautista. With a full count, he got every bit of a hanging slider and smashed a monster home run to put the Jays up 2-0.
And with Stroman cruising, it looked like that might well be enough. Stroman came out for the 7th, got two quick outs and was ahead of Joc Pederson 0-2. To that point, Stroman had piled up 8 strikeouts against 2 walks, while inducing 80% (12/15) ground balls - all on around 90 pitches. But he couldn't finish off Pederson, who doubled. Then then Carl Crawford doubled him home, and Chase Utley singled him home to tie the game 2-2. Stroman rebounded to get Corey Seager to ground out and keep it tied.
The bottom of the inning has a similar tenor. After two quick outs, Ryan Goins was hit by a pitch, Barney singled, and Saunders walked to bring up Donaldson was the bases loaded and two out. The Dodgers went to the pen for their third pitcher of the inning, and Donaldson fouled out on the first pitch to end the threat with the game still tied. The Jays started the inning with an 85% win expectancy, and finished it at 50%.
Gavin Floyd was the first out of the bullpen, and needed just 9 pitches to retire the side easily in order, turning the game over the middle of the order in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Edwin Encarnacion pulled a ground rule double to the gap. With a right handed pitcher, the Dodgers - quite sensibly - intentionally walked Justin Smoak to pitch to Kevin Pillar. And it looked like it would play off, as he fell behind 0-2 which is deep hole for a hitter who usually lacks the ability to lay off pitches outside the zone.
But layoff a low slider he did, and then he got a 93 MPH sinker to the inside corner, which he turned on and deposited over the left field wall for a go ahead, and ultimately game winning, 3-run homer. With that, he pushed his line on the year to .296/.336/.443 (119 wRC+), which is all of 25 points of OBP and 29 points of SLG behind Jose Bautista. With 1.5 fWAR, Pillar - the 979th player chosen five years ago - is one of the 20 most productive players in all of MLB. He's probably not going to last at this level of offensive production - though we should all be well past the point of underestimating this guy - but is it ever to fun to enjoy in the interim.
With a 5-2 lead going to the bottom of the 9th, Roberto Osuna did not come out for the save situation, which is not a big deal in that it doesn't represent a terribly high leverage situation but is worrisome in that it appears he wasn't available. Instead, Drew Storen had been warming and came into the game. Frankly, given how well Floyd had pitched, there was really little reason he should have been warming to come into the game, but Storen it was. He started on an inauspicious note, walking Yasmani Grandal and eventually loading the bases with two out to bring the winning run to the plate. But Seager flied out, and Storen's highwire act earned him a Kevin Gregg save.
Jays of the Day: Pillar (+0.198, was in line for the suckage before +.301 for the game winning HR), Bautista (+0.152), Stroman (+0.121), Floyd (+0.106)
Suckage: None. A number of the hitters had very bad nights, but the entire lineup was almost equally futile in the first half of the game which spread the WPA around to keep everyone below the threshold.
In game two tomorrow at 1:05 eastern, R.A. Dickey takes on Clayton Kershaw in what might charitably be described as a bit of a mismatch for the Jays.