A balanced effort led the Blue Jays to victory on Wednesday, with good showings on the mound, at the plate, and in the field. Marco Estrada was not at his best, but he didn't need to be facing the Phillies (other than Cody Asche who had half of Philly's 6 hits and all for extra bases) and actually settled in quite nicely. He went 6.2 innings, charges with 2 runs on 4 hits, 1 home run, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts.
Edwin Encarnacion put the Jays on the board leading off the second inning, when he turned on and absolutely crushed a 91 MPH fastball that was breaking in and likely off the plate when he hit it. But when Encarnacion is en fuego, it doesn't much matter and it landed in the second deck. Ryan Goins hit a two out triple, but was stranded when Devon Travis struck out swinging.
The favour was returned in the bottom of the inning, when Estrada - after the Phillies put some pretty good swings in him in the 1st - left a 2-0 cutter at 85 MPH over the middle of the plate. That's also known as a batting practice fastball, and Asche crushed it to right field to tie up the game.
The third inning featured some noteworthy defensive and baserunning events. In the top of the third, Ezequiel Carrera got aboard and Bautista smoked a ball to deep centre for the second out. Inexplicably, Carrera tried to advance to second and was gunned down to the end the inning. But all was not lost. Leading off the bottom of the inning, Hellickson tapped an 0-2 pitch down the third base line:
It was impressive that Donaldson got to that and made even a halfway decent throw. That it was so accurate that a decent little league could have caught it on the bag is astounding.
The Jays carried that momentum into the bottom of the inning, staking themselves to a lead they would not relinquish (note: I tempted faith by writing this in the 5th inning). Hellickson wanted no part of Donaldson or Encarnacion, walking them on 8 pitches, after which they immediately took off and advanced with easily when the ball got away anyway. Donaldson came in on the next pitch, a sac fly from Russell Martin. With two out, Goins bounced on up the middle to cash Encarnacion and extend the lead to 3-1. This time around, Travis cashed Goins with a double, though the inning ended as he rounded second and was caught in between to draw the throw and ensure Goins scored.
Once again, Estrada could not come up with a shutdown inning. A leadoff walk to Andres Blanco came around on a one out double by Asche off a curveball. He did end the inning with a swinging strikeout on another dead fish changeup. After that he settled in some, working a quick and clean 5th and got the first two outs of the 6th before he required a little more defensive assistance from Donaldson:
Estrada got the first two outs of the 7th before giving up a single. With his pitch count having crossed 100 and the tying run up in Ryan Howard, John Gibbons went to Jesse Chavez (in a situation that cried out for a LOOGY like Girodo), who nonetheless struck Howard out to end the threat. That ended up his only batter as he was pinch hit for in the 8th.
Speaking of the 8th, the Jays did their bullpen a favour and gave them some breathing room by tacking on some runs (a sadly rare occurrence this year). Donaldson (who else?) led off by crushing a 3-1 fastball for a home run. A walk and HBP to Encarnacion and Martin followed, with both ultimately scoring first on a Goins groundout and then a Travis single to push the score to 7-2.
That allowed Gibby to rest his best relievers, though I still question sending Girodo out for the 8th, when a bloop and a blast makes it an Osuna situation. Girodo worked around an infield single, and Drew Storen came in for the 9th. He wasn't great, allowing an Asche double and a walk, but closed the game out unscathed.
Tonight's game graph is once again quite pleasant:
Jays of the Day: Estrada (+0.175 WPA, with a little help from his defensive friends), Encarnacion (+0.169, HR, 2 BB), Donaldson (+0.141, 2/4, HR, BB and the two defensive gems), Goins (+0.126, 2/4, 3B)
Suckage: None. Bautista had the low number at -0.078, but only because Carrera's baserunning blunder was attached to his PA. Otherwise, Pillar's 0/4 was the low number at -0.072. I'm tempted to give Carrera one on principle.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to take the home-and-home set with J.A. Happ facing their 2011 draftee Aaron Nola at 7:05 eastern in what should be a pretty even overall matchup.