Blue Jays 6 Cleveland 5
There are two important facts about tonight's game. First, the ugliest win is better than the cleanest loss. Second, ugly wins count the same in the standings as any other. And make no mistake, this was an ugly win for the Blue Jays on a Saturday night that started out in a very promising manner, only to see the Blue Jays forced to cling to the slimmest of margins.
In what's been too rare an occurrence in 2016, the Jays jumped on a mediocre pitcher and knocked him out early. They stranded two runners in the first, but put two runs on the board in the 2nd as with two out Darwin Barney singled and Ryan Goins followed with a double. Devon Travis placed a bouncer to the right spot for an infield single, to score Barney and Ryan Goins caught Cleveland napping and also came around from second.
THey added three more in the 3rd inning as Russell Martin hit an opposite field home run to right-centre, immediately followed by Troy Tuowitzki hitting a double off the wall to almost the same spot. He blundered on the next play, thrown out trying to advance on a ground ball to trade a runner on second for a runner on first, but Melvin Upton mooted the miscue by going yard on a two run shot.
Meanwhile, Aaron Sanchez was immaculate in the early going, striking the side in order in the 1st as he blew his fastball past Cleveland hitters with ease and seemingly at will. The 2nd inning was almost as easy, two routine grounders and then dispatching an overmatched Lonnie Chisenhall on three straight swings and misses.
But whatever favours the lineup did in staking their pitcher to a lead, they were seemingly just as determined to undermine in the field, starting benignly in the third inning. Sanchez induced three straight ground balls to short, the second of which was botched by Goins but erased on a double play on the third. They were not so fortunate in the 4th inning, as the wheels came totally off the wagon.
Carlos Santana drew a walk leading off. Sanchez induced what should have been a routine double play ball to Travis, but he threw off target and Goins didn't come off the bag to grab it and try and get one out, so all hands were safe. The next ball was lined to Upton in centre, and he bobbled the ball which proved costly as Santana slipped rounding 3rd base and could have been picked off. Instead, the bases were loaded.
The first run off Sanchez came in a sac fly from Mike Napoli, and then another line drive up the middle to plate another. With Sanchez labouring and his pitch count rising, Chisenhall came back up. He fouled off a ton of pitches to stay alive, and on the 10th pitch got even for being embarrassed earlier by hammering a 95 MPH fastball that got too much of the plate out of right field for a game tying home run. Sanchez got out of the inning, but that was the end of his night. He was so good to start, and while he was not helped defensively, he gave up a lot of hard contact the second time through the order.
Fortunately, the Jays had one last offensive burst left in their bats. In the top of the 5th, Edwin Encarnacion responded with a solo home run to put the Jays back up 6-5. It was to be the last run they scored, but fortunately the bullpen was up to the task of making it stand up.
Joe Biagini was first up with two effective innings, just one hit allowed. Joaquin Benoit worked a 1-2-3 7th inning, one strikeout. Jason grilled got the 8th, striking out the first batter and erased a single with a double play. That left Roberto Osuna with a one run lead in the 9th, and he exorcised the demons of Friday night with a perfect inning.
In all, the Jays pounded out 14 hits to just six for the home side (and just two outside the 4th inning), but finished just the lone run ahead of a scoreboard.
Jays of the Day: On the hitting side, Travis (+0.139, 3/5, though some negative for the bad throw and gets credit for Goins taking home) and Encarnacion (+0.126, 2/5, HR). On the pitching side, all the relievers: Osuna (+0.192), Biagini (+0.160), Grilli (+0.137) and Benoit (+0.106).
Suckage: Sanchez (-0.292, not all of that him realistically) and Ezequiel Carrera (-0.122, 0/5). DAMMIT GIBBY DON'T HIT HIM SECOND.
Tomorrow is the rubber match of the series at 1:05 eastern, with Marcus Stroman taking on Corey Kluber in what on paper should be a heck of a game.