After a pair of tough extra inning losses, and with the bats suddenly pretty quiet, the Blue Jays needed R.A Dickey to reprise his summer 2015 form and if nothing else at least work deep into the game. He did that and more, turning in a terrific 7 inning inning start, allowing just 6 hits and no free passes with 5 strikeouts, and allowing just a single run in his last inning.
The night started with a 2 out jam in the 1st, with back to back singles but little to fault Dickey for, a bunt single and a chopper past a couple defenders. He got out of that, and had perfect 2nd and 3rd innings. The best shot for the Astros to do some damage was probably the 4th, when Carlos Correa singled and old friend Colby Rasmus stung a ball to centre, that was just short and hung up enough for Kevin Pillar to get under. They finally got to Dickey in the 7th, when Evan Gattis drove home Carlos Gomez (who doubled) with two out.
Meanwhile, the bats again did not do a whole heck of a lot. Lance McCullers was pretty fantastic with his electric fastball-curveball combo, and plowed through the lineup the first time through with mostly strikeouts and weak ground balls. But the Jays have some pretty good hitters, and they inflicted some damage the second time through:
With 2 out and the bases clear in the 3rd, Jose Bautista hit a milestone home run, his 300th career home run. Two batters later, leading off the 4th, Edwin Encarnacion did the same, and that ended up being the sum total of the offensive output. Fortunately, it was enough. Devon Travis also had a good night against McCullers, taking a four pitch walk and lining a hanging 1-2 curveball for a single. Unfortunately, McCullers had to leave the game with 2 out in the 5th with an injury. The Jays didn't fare any better against his replacement, which we'll get to in a second.
There were a pair of MLB debuts tonight, one on each side though both players were drafted by the Blue Jays. On the Blue Jays side, the just promoted 2010 35th rounder Danny Barnes came into a one run game in 8th inning. He pitched an effective scoreless inning with 2 strikeouts. The first victim was Alex Bregman on a fastball, the second Carlos Correa on a pretty change-up. Other than Jose Altuve squaring up a high 1-2 fastball, the pitch was effective for him at 91-93, inducing multiple swings and misses. Still early days, but grreat to see a successful debut for a guy who has slowly climbed the organizational ladder.
The second debut was Astros RHP Joe Musgrove, a 2011 first round supplemental pick for the Jays who was traded for J.A. Happ four years ago. After a few lost years, he's climbed the prospect ladder and looked fantastic tonight, working up to 95 with his fastball, with a great breaking ball.
He struck out Encarnacion to finish the 5th as his first major league batter, and then for good measure turned over the lineup in perfect fashion with more strikeouts, including the side in order in the 7th. Michael Saunders broke up with perfect night with a leadoff walk in the 9th, but he worked around that and an Upton single to finish the night with 4.1 scoreless, 1 hit, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts. Since the Jays won, I'm happy for him his debut went so well.
With Roberto Osuna (among others) unavailable tonight, Jason Grilli was the acting closer and and slammed the door with a 1-2-3 9th inning.
Jays of the Day: Dickey (+0.316 WPA), Grilli (+0.195), Barnes (+0.139), Bautista (+0.097, 2/4, HR, robbed of a double). Edwin (+0.061, 1/4) had the game winning run on his home run, so we'll give him one too.
Suckage: Darwin Barney (-0.108). Poor dinosaur.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to
take the rubber match assure themselves of at least a series split with Marco Estrada facing off against Collin McHugh at 8pm eastern.