BaMMeD: what Bautista, Martin, Morales, et Donaldson did to the Reds tonight.
For the first time this year the big bats in the middle of the order are healthy and producing. Tonight that was the difference, as they hammered the Reds pitching with some tape measure shots, and it was just enough to overcome three home runs given up in turn and some bullpen scuffles.
With the game locked 4-4 in the bottom of the 8th, Jose Bautista singled to leading off as the first batter to face reliever Blake Wood. Kendrys Morales followed by getting good wood on a 97 MPH fastball from Blake, hammering a home run estimated at 434 feet to put the Jays ahead decisively.
J.A. Happ went 4 innings on 81 pitches in his first start back from the disabled list. He wasn't overly sharp, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts but kept the Jays in the game which is about as much as could be expected given that a week ago he was supposed to be making his second rehab start. The damage was done on back to back home runs by Zack Cozart and Joey Votto on consecutive pitches in the 1st inning. But Happ otherwise held the line, with clean inning against the bottom of the order in the 2nd and 4th and stranding the bases loaded in the 3rd.
On the flip side, the Blue Jays were shutdown by the man once traded for Happ, former Blue Jays 2010 first round supplemental pick Asher Wojcieshowski (hereafter, Wojo). Making his 4th MLB start, he faced the the minimum the first time through the order, allowing just a single to Morales erased on a ball Justin Smoak smashed, but right at Votto.
But as often is the case when a veteran lineup faces a young pitcher, round 2 went a little differently than round 1. Kevin Pillar took a HBP leading off, and then this happened:
Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista & Russell Martin ponen caliente el Rogers Center de Toronto @BlueJays Vamos #BlueJays pic.twitter.com/Dx42wUpLzW— Rafael Colón (@rafacolontorres) May 31, 2017
Statcast says Donaldson's HR into the 5th deck was 435 feet and peaked out at 110 feet; I say that seems low. Regardless, almost 1300 feet of home runs later, the Jays had a 4-2 lead. And in between the last two, Morales came a few feet shy of it being back-to-back-to-back-to-back bombs.
That was basically it in terms of offensive production until the 8th, as the Reds turned to Michael Lorenzen who had a little trouble with control issuing three walks, but otherwise shut the bats down over three scoreless.
Danny Barnes was the first man out of the pen for the Jays, and struck out five over two innings. The one small blemish (okay, big blemish) was an absolute meatball to Zack Cozart for his second home run of the game sandwiched around striking out the side swinging. In his second inning in particular, he did a great just moving around the edges of the strike zone.
That set things up to go Tepera-Smith-Osuna the rest of the way, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. Ryan Tepera simply didn't have it on this night, walking leadoff Jose Peraza who stole second and went to third when Tulo couldn't handle the throw. He scored to tie the game on a Billy Hailton single. He of course stole second and things looked really bad when Zack Cozart walked. Luckily, Billy Hamilton was gunned out trying to take third in front of a Votto walk, the third of the inning.
Really, John Gibbons shouldn't have left him out there in such a critical situation. He didn't have it, it happens...but don't hang him out to dry. Luckily Tepera wriggled out. He made a horrible 0-2 pitch that was lined into left field, but Ezequiel Carrera robbed a go ahead hit with an outstanding diving catch and Tepera finished the inning with a strikeout.
The 8th didn't start much better, as Aaron Loup came in for the left-on-left matchup and gave up a single. Gibby went to Generic Joe Smith, who allowed an infield single got out of the inning. After Morales gave the Jays the lead, Roberto Osuna worked an easy 9th for the clean save.
Jays of the Day: All the members of the home run brigade - Morales (+0.263 WPA), Donaldson (+0.155), Bautista (+0.155), and Martin (+0.125). Generic Joe (+0.240) for stranding the go-ahead run in the 8th. But for one awful meatball of the pitch Barnes would have one too but such is life so we'll settle for a tip of the cap for 5K over 2 innings.
Suckage: Loup (-0.131 from one batter) and Tepera (-0.102) just didn't have it tonight; Tulo (-0.103)
Tomorrow, the Jays will go for the sweep to ty and end the month of May at 18-10 in a 12:30 matinee with Mike Bolsinger opposing RHP Tim Adleman, who I had never heard of, so this actually seems like a reasonable matchup. A win tomorrow would put the Jays a measly one game under .500 going into June with a suddenly mostly healthy roster.