It was the biggest game of the season. I feel like that's been wrote before. I'm pretty sure I've wrote that before. Rick Porcello versus Marco Estrada. No easy task but one that could be described with the cliche-laden "must win" label.
Starting out the game, the Jays looked equally as hopeless as they had throughout September. The bats were as ugly as the weather conditions as Blue Jay after Blue Jay stepped to the plate and struggled to square up Porcello.
Fighting from behind the eight-ball thanks to a 1st inning RBI single from David Ortiz, it was an uncomfortable feeling watching each consecutive Blue Jay walk hopelessly back to the dugout. Sure there were a few hits mixed in, but it wasn't until a Devon Travis leadoff double in the 5th inning before I muttered, "they can't not score here."
Thankfully, they did. It started with Travis coming around to score on a SAC fly from Josh Donaldson and was followed by a two-run home run from their leader, Jose Bautista to make it 3-1.
The quick turnaround put Marco Estrada in line for the win as he left after five complete innings while allowing just one run on four hits while striking out four and walking a pair. Although Estrada was on during his performance, the inclement weather made it difficult to go the distance especially after throwing 34 pitches in the opening frame. That said, you can't fault a performance like Estrada's in an impact game.
Coming on in relief was rookie Joe Biagini who hadn't pitched in three days in his 22-pitch outing against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Despite allowing a one-out triple to Xander Bogaerts down the right-field line, Biagini showed why he deserves the ball in high-leverage situations by striking out the final two batters of the 6th and stymie the Red Sox potent offence.
After allowing a leadoff double to Andrew Benintendi the following inning things fell apart for the Blue Jays. Dustin Pedroia, caught on his front foot squibbed a hit just feet in front of home plate fielded by Russell Martin. Spinning on the throw, Martin missed first base on the throw allowing Benintendi to get home on the ball out of play making it 3-2. After moving over to third on a pass ball (one which Martin should have blocked), Pedroia scored on a Mookie Betts, tying the game and ending the night for Biagini.
Taking over in relief to face the ever-so-dangerous David Ortiz was left hander Brett Cecil. Despite owning Ortiz prior to the at-bat--holding him to a 6-for-31 record--Cecil pitched David where you historically don't pitch David. Down and in. Mr. Ortiz did what he does with those pitches, smashing a two-run home run just to the left of Pesky Pole to take a commanding 5-3 lead.
The Jays would threaten with a walk from Kevin Pillar and double from Devon Travis but would once again fall short after Ezequiel Carrera prompty flew out and Josh Donaldson sadly grounded out.
Aaron Loup in cooperation with Ryan Tepera did their part in limiting the Red Sox offence and giving the Jays a chance to win the game but it didn't matter once Craig Kimbrel was handed the ball to close out the 9th. Outside of a couple walks Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki, the Jays offence was silent, cementing the loss 5-3 at the hands of the AL East Champion Boston Red Sox.
To add insult to injury, on the out of town scoreboard, both Baltimore and Detroit had recorded wins on the evening while the Mariners had a 3-0 lead over Oakland at the end of the Jays game. If they close out the victory, they will be just one game back of the Jays for the second wild card spot with Detroit only a half game back and Baltimore one game up. It's now or never here Blue Jays.
Jays of the night:
Jose Bautista: (WPA 0.282) Another great night for Jose Bautista. 2-for-3 with a two-run home run and a pair of walks. It's these kinds of nights that I'll stay up thinking this winter wondering if I'll be ever be treated to again.
Marco Estrada: (WPA 0.156) Again the only thing you can complain about Marco not doing tonight was going deep into the ball game and scoring runs. One of those things he's not able to do as a pitcher and the other is forgivable considering the outing he gave the Jays in such poor weather conditions.
Devon Travis: (WPA 0.219). Going 3-for-4 tonight, Devon Travis did his part in trying to help the Jays get closer to that ever-elusive wild card spot. With his recent performance, it's hard to justify him batting 9th but batting order is the least of the Jays concerns with two games remaining in the season.
Edwin Encarnacion-- (WPA -0. 171) Despite saying he was going to leave it all on the field for the fans this weekend, Edwin didn't look good tonight. His final line of 0-for-5 with a strikeout was not what the Jays needed.
Justin Smoak--(WPA -0.105) Despite having good historical numbers against Porcello entering the night, Justin Smoak was essentially Justin Smoak. You can't fault John Gibbons for trying to insert some timely offence with Smoak in the lineup but it flat out didn't work.
Joe Biagini- (WPA -0.290). He gave up a couple of hard hit balls but was ultimately defeated with a dribbler out front of home plate that should have been converted into an out. It wasn't and thus things look much worse than they actually are.