Three cheers for no late innings dramatics tonight. The Blue Jays built a lead, and though the White Sox chipped away at it a couple times, for the first time since Friday the team going to the 9th with the lead emerged with the win.
Marcus Stroman has an interesting night, finishing with 4 runs allowed on 7 hits in 7 innings, with a walk and 5 strikeouts. For most of the night, he was in cruise control rolling through the White Sox order, but did hit some patches of turbulence where they got to him.
With two out and one on in the 4th inning, Stroman gave up a pair of hard hits, a single to put another another on and then a two out double to cash both runners and tie the game back up 2-2. After setting down four in a row to finish the 4th and get through the 5th, leading off the 6th he gave up a single to Jose Abreu and Kevan Smith (who?) tagged him for a two run home run. He set another five in row down before a single and ground out finished his very efficient outing below 100 pitches.
There was a moment of drama. Tim Anderson struck out leading off the 7th, on the pitch following him requesting and being granted time as Stroman was beginning his delivery. Stroman didn't like that and unleashed some verbiage, and Anderson did the same after being struck out, and when Stroman noticed him doing so took exception and yelled and gesticulated back. Both benches emptied and apparently the bullpens too, but cooler heads quickly prevailed.
After the half inning Buck Martinez got caught on a hot mic throwing a little shade Stroman's way:
So, uh, I guess the audio cut out for those watching on Sportsnet, and Buck and Pat didn't realize their mics were still hot on MLB dot TV. pic.twitter.com/pXmUSEp8kl— Jonah Birenbaum (@birenball) August 2, 2017
Fortunately, the bats were up to the task and provided plenty of run support. For the second straight night, Josh Donaldson hit a first inning home run to get the Jays on the board up 1-0. He added a second RBI in the 3rd inning, as Darwin Barney led off with a double and eventually scored on Donaldson's sac fly.
Donaldson was again involved in the next scoring. After the game was knotted up 2-2 in the 4th, Donaldson walked with two out in front of Justin Smoak's 31st home run of the year, which gave the Jays a lead they would not surrender (though it would not have been enough on its own).
They put some real distance in the following inning, again with a two out rally. Kevin Pillar walked, Barney singled and Jose Bautista also walked to load the bases. Russell Martin got just enough of a ball to bloop it over the shortstop into short right field to plate two more. Donaldson was then again - for a fourth time in four trips - involved in scoring as he smashed a ball off the base of the wall in centre. It plated another to make the score 7-2, but Martin failed to come around (perhaps thinking it was going out).
They added one final run for good measure in the 7th after the White Sox narrowed it the lead to 7-4. Kendrys Morales walked leading off, and Steve Pearce hit a double. Despite: (1) being one of the slowest runners in MLB; (2) there not being two outs and therefore not running on contact; (3) getting a poor jump even considering that; and (4) his slide coming up well short of home, Morales somehow - most improbably - came all the way around to score. That made it 8-4, and that was the final score.
Of course, this being the Blue Jays bullpen in recent times, it was not without drama. Ryan Tepera came in for the 8th, and after getting the first batters allowed three straight singles and one could only think "here we go again". But despite being down four runs, Chicago sent the lead runner around to the plate on the third single. Kevin Pillar got the ball quickly, and made a strong and accurate throw to gun down the runner. That was the coup de grace that took the wind out of the White Sox sails for good. Dominic Leone worked around a two out double in the 9th.
Jays of the Day: Smoak (+0.255 WPA), Donaldson (+0.166). Pillar finished at -0.067 thanks to an untimely GIDP and strikeout, but he gets one too for going 1/3, 2 walks, and the outfield assist to snuff the 8th inning rally.
Tomorrow, the Jays and White Sox will settle the series in a matinee (2:05 EDT) matchup of lefties J.A. Happ and Derek Holland