The Blue Jays finally won back-to-back games and their first series of the year against Tampa Bay on the weekend, but they weren't the only ones in the organization dealing with Rays players. Buffalo dropped two of three against AAA Durham, while Lansing took both games over the weekend to sweep the series that started Thursday (and washed out yesterday). Including Dunedin taking two of three against Charlotte earlier in the week, the Jays org defeated the Rays org 8-4 in aggregate. Let's look at some of the significant individual performances.
Sean Reid-Foley started Saturday and again failed to get his 2017 season launched, as he got hit around in giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He needed 71 pitches to get through those 3 innings, only touching 91-92 with his fastball on the stadium gun so it would appear the raw stuff was down. He didn't miss bats, with 6 whiffs on 34 swings (82% contact rate). Over 70% of the contact was in the air, and much hit hard including a home run, two doubles and multiple line drive singles. There's probably no one else more happy to see the calendar turn to May.
Conner Greene went Saturday and turned in a very good outing, despite allowing 5 runs over 5.2 innings. An error int he 6th plated an unearned run and prevented him from completing the inning, and two runs scored early on a shallow fly ball with two out that fell in and went for a "triple". On the plus side, he struck out 7 while only walking two, and was consistently in the mid/high 90s with his fastball throughout the outing, touching as high as 98 on the stadium gun.
He wasn't overpowering, with 8 missed bats on 43 swings (81% contact), around half of them on his curveball. Greene also fell behind more hitters than he got ahead, but he was a boss on contact, with just over 60% ground balls and a couple popups as well. Only three balls were struck well and squared up.
Shane Dawson had a solid start Friday, filling up the strike zone in going 6 innings and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. He picked up the win, but that didn't prevent him from blowing up Saturday after Justin Shafer got squeezed by the home plate ump, as he got ejected and then took upon himself to rearrange some furniture.
Jordan Romano tossed 6 innings Saturday, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits in 5.1 innings, with a HBP and 3 strikeouts. After a messy first inning, he faced one of over the minimum over the next four innings thanks for a couple double plays to carry a shutout into the 6th. Things came apart, with three straight ground balls hits to start the inning, with a hard double knocking him out. He touched up to 94 and did a solid job overall inducing weak contact.
Angel Perdomo had a rough outing Sunday, giving up 4 runs (3 ER) in 5 innings on 9 hits, a walk and two strikeouts. He wasn't missing bats to generate strikeouts, and didn't manage contact well with only about 30% ground balls, two home runs allowed and a bunch of line drives. But the hit total was inflated by some infield singles, and an error didn't help him either. Perdomo's fastball was consistent in the 93-94 range.
Tom Robson had another poor outing, touching 94 but struggling to throw strikes. He fell behind 7 of 9 batters, and walked 3 over 1.2 innings, though did settle into a nice run of weak contact in the second half of the outing.
Justin Maese faced a lefty heavy Bowling Green lineup and acquitted himself reasonably well despite a final line of 5 runs on 11 hits over 7 innings, a walk and 6 strikeouts. As usual, there were a lot of balls in play, and he did get squared too much, with about 7 sharply hit balls out of 23 (most against lefties). However, the damage was limited with only two doubles, and one of those a routine fly ball lost in the light. Maese still got plenty of ground balls at about 50%, and the resulting two double plays and two outs on the basepaths helped as well. Five of the strikeouts came in the last three innings, as he ramped up the swinging strikes the third and fourth times though the order, which is quite impressive. All in all, an encouraging start.
Patrick Murphy followed that up with 5.2 innings Saturday, giving up 2 runs (1 ER) on 4 hits, but with 4 walks and a HBP against 3 strikeouts. He was very efficient for the first couple innings and a weak ground ball machine, sitting 93-94 with his fastball. The second time through the contact was messier, with a couple hard line drive hits and the rest mostly in the air. He had lost the zone from time to time over the first 4 innings, but over the last two innings and third time through, his control and command really wavered with three free passes and two hard hits.
Zach Jackson followed him and had probably his best outing of the nascent season, retiring all four batters with two strikeouts, a pop out and foulout. Jackson McClelland was impressive locking down the 9th, with two strikeouts and weak contact while hitting 93-95 on the stadium gun,
Beyond Aaron Sanchez, Sunday was not a good day down on the farm for injuries either. Juan Kelly left Sunday's game after being hit by a pitch in the shin leading off the second inning, apparently not wearing a shin protector. Sunday evening, Carlos Ramirez retired the last batter of the 6th, came out for the 7th and after throwing his second pitch immediately walked off the mound in visible pain.