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Devon Travis begins and ends the scoring with two solo home runs in 4-3 Blue Jays win

The Blue Jays are now 4-0 against the Royals this season.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Before tonight, Devon Travis never had a multi home run game in the major leagues. Not only did he accomplish that feat during Friday's opener in Kansas City, but he did it while giving the Blue Jays the lead twice. First to open the game on just the second pitch of the evening thrown by Royals starter Dillon Gee, and again with two down in the ninth off Kelvin Herrera who hadn't allowed a run in a month.

With this display of power, Travis raised his wRC+ on the season to 116, making him a very sneaky threat in a lineup that's extremely deep when healthy.

The rest of the scoring for Toronto came in the third inning when Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion worked back to back walks ahead of an RBI double off the bat of Michael Saunders. Troy Tulowitzki then came to the plate with Encarnacion on third and had a good situational at bat with an RBI ground out that at the time gave the Jays a 3-1 lead.

While the offense did enough to win this one, they're still not quite clicking on all cylinders. Tonight marked the sixth consecutive contest in which they failed to score more than four runs. In almost perfect symmetry, the Jays also left the bases loaded in both the first and last inning after the Travis home runs.

On the mound, Francisco Liriano made his Blue Jays debut and also did just enough for the team to win. He allowed three runs over six innings, but only two of them were earned thanks to one of two throwing errors from Darwin Barney (more on the other one in a moment). The most encouraging aspect of his outing though was probably the way him limited walks. Entering tonight, Liriano walked 13.2 percent of the batters he faced this season, and the 69 walks he allowed in a Pirates uniform were the most of any pitcher in the National League. In other words, the two walks he allowed tonight might be a very good sign. Perhaps working with Russell Martin again really can be a difference maker for Liriano.

Of course, we also have to be careful not to take too much away from this game. In addition to it being just one start, the Royals are a really, really bad offensive team. They rank last in the American League in runs, last in home runs, second to last in OPS, and last in the walks. When you take this into consideration, the outing doesn't look quite as impressive. Let's see how he does next time out.

Speaking of disappointing Royals stats, it's hard to believe this team won the World Series last year with largely the same nucleus (granted there have been some injuries). They are now seven games under .500 and have the worst record in the American League since the All-Star break. They're also now closer to the Twins (who own the worst record in the AL) than a playoff spot. The Blue Jays have faced them four times so far this season and haven't lost yet. It's going to be a very interesting winter in Kansas City to say the least.

With Roberto Osuna unavailable in the ninth inning after being used five times in the last seven days, John Gibbons tested his luck and gave the ball to Joaquin Benoit to finish off the game. It turned into a bit of an adventure, but not for the reasons you probably thought.

Alex Gordon led off with a long fly ball to left that barely stayed in the spacious ballpark, and then Benoit  got Paulo Orlando to hit a ground ball to third for what should have been an easy second out. However, Darwin Barney made his second error of the night when he threw the ball widely to first, and suddenly the Royals had a runner on second with only one out.

However, in another wild turn of events, Barney immediately redeemed himself as Orlando tried to steal third with Jarrod Dyson at the plate. Russell Marin's throw was in time, but it also one-hopped Barney and he made an outstanding play to scoop it out of the dirt and tag out Orlando before he reached the bag.

Then the baseball gods decided to tease the fans at Kauffman Stadium as Dyson recorded a hit that would have scored Orlando from second and tied the game. Instead they simply had a man on first when Alcides Escobar came up and struck out to end the night.

The win will keep the Blue Jays in a tie for first place as Baltimore beat the White Sox tonight in Chicago 7-5. Boston meanwhile currently leads the Dodgers 4-0 in the sixth inning.

Tomorrow we get the best pitching match up of the series as Aaron Sanchez will face Danny Duffy at 7:15 ET. The Jays will also be looking for a five game winning streak.

Jays of the Day: Devon Travis (.466) obviously gets one for his home run heroics. I'll also give one to the bullpen as Scott Feldman, Brett Cecil and Benoit all threw up zeros in the last three innings.

Jays Suckage: Russell Marin (-.222) went 0-4 with two strike outs (including a fly out to right field with the bases loaded in the first). Darwin Barney also gets one (-.156) for his 0-4 and two throwing errors.

Here's the game graph:

Source: FanGraphs


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