It's been rough sledding for the bottom of the Blue Jays order for much of the last couple of weeks. The combination of players slumping and the Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista injuries shortening the lineup has made for some rather quick and unproductive innings. However, several struggling Jays got some revenge this afternoon as the four through eight hitters went a combined 9-21 behind a top three that only combined to go 2-14. If you're going to win a division title, you need production from all different areas, so it was nice to see the Jays get that today.
The first of two big innings came in the second when Troy Tulowitzki (who has certainly not been struggling) got the first Toronto hit of the day with a one out single to right. Melvin Upton followed that up with a walk to put runners at first and second before Ezequiel Carrera hit an opposite field double that scored Tulo and put the Jays on the board first. Darwin Barney then immediately tripled the Toronto lead with a double down the left field line to put the Blue Jays up 3-0.
The other big inning came in the fifth after the Yankees cut the lead to 3-2 on solo home runs from Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro in the second and fourth innings. This time, the Jays got a ton of help from Chase Headley. Following a lead off single from Devon Travis, Headley inexplicably threw to second base on a ground ball off the bat of Josh Donaldson and failed to record a single out on the play. Instead of a runner on second with one out, the Jays now had two men on with nobody out. Edwin Encarnacion then hit what should have been an easy double play ball to third base, but after stepping on the bag, Headley sailed a throw towards the heavens handing the Jays another free out.
It would prove costly. Russell Martin stayed hot and drove in a run with a line drive to right as part of his three hit day, and then after a Tulo strike out, Melvin Upton recorded his first extra base hit in a Jays uniform with a three run shot to right. It was a great moment for him after entering the day with a .190 slugging percentage since the trade.
Not only was this a big hit at the time, but it also proved the be the difference maker in the final score. This had to be a very satisfying for both Upton and the Jays as a team because they took full advantage of an opponent's mistake. Upton never should have come to the plate that inning, but Headley gave him an opportunity and he took full advantage of it.
The three run shot also capped an incredible offensive stretch of nine innings going back to the sixth inning of last night's game. If you combine the last four innings of last night's game and the first five innings this afternoon, the Jays scored 19 runs. All this while failing the score in the other 18 innings of the series. Sometimes baseball just baseballs.
From a Yankee perspective, Headley's mistakes (even though he was only officially charged with one error) helped fuel an incredibly odd line for CC Sabathia who racked up 12 strike outs while only walking one batter. That sounds like an effective day, but he also gave up seven runs, so not so much.
J.A. Happ wasn't at his best today, but he limited the damage and still pitched deep into the game while picking up his league leading 17th win of the season. In somewhat similar fashion to Sabathia, he struck out nine and only walked one, but unlike Sabathia, he never allowed more than a single run in any frame. He did cough up three home runs, but they were all of the solo variety, and as the old baseball adage says, solo home runs generally don't beat you.
Roberto Osuna recorded a four out save today, which is notable for two reasons. First, it sets the record for most saves in MLB history before a player's 22nd birthday, and second, it tied him for the most saves in baseball this year in which the closer had to get more than three outs.
They Jays really have something special in this guy. When he entered the game in the eighth, the Yankees had the tying run at the plate in Didi Gregorius, and Osuna just completely blew him away. For all intents and purposes, the game was over right there.
Unfortunately it wasn't quite all good news for the Jays as Josh Donaldson had a rough afternoon. First he got into a heated conversation with manager John Gibbons after throwing his bat in the dugout following his third inning strike out, and then he had to leave the game early after jamming his right thumb. Here's the incident in the dugout:
I don't think this is too big of a deal, but you can judge for yourself. It is however nice to see Tulo calmly walking in between the two of them and defusing the situation.
There was also this two innings later, so I'd imagine things are fine.
Josh Donaldson scores on Russell Martin RBI single, greeted by a high-five from John Gibbons on way into dugout. #BlueJays 4-2 T5— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) August 17, 2016
As far as Donaldson's thumb is concerned, he's considered day to day. The Jays do have an off day tomorrow, which works in his favor, but then they begin a big series in Cleveland on Friday. If the season ended right now, the Jays and Indians would face off in an ALDS.
The Jays are now 1.5 games ahead of both the Red Sox and Orioles, but the two teams play tonight in Baltimore, so unless it rains (there is the potential for thunderstorms in the forecast), the lead will be one when the sun comes up on Thursday.
Jays of the Day: It's all about the bottom of the lineup here as the six, seven and eight hitters record the three highest WPA marks (of all Jays HITTERS). Upton (.234), Carrera (.115), and Barney (.090) for his two run double. I'll also give one to Marin for his three hits, and the Chase Headley for his defense.
Jays suckage: Nobody hit the number.
Game Graph (It's quite lovely, but less dramatic than yesterday):