I really dislike these Saturday evening start times, but at least this evening the Blue Jays turned in not only a win but played in a really compelling game (of course the it's easier to say the latter when the former is true).
The Jays and Astros went to the 10th tied 3-3, both sides having squandered multiple opportunities. For the top of the inning, Houston brought in old friend Francisco Liriano, and after getting one out he missed four straight times to a pinch hitting Rob Refsnyder to put him on. While Steve Pearce struck out chasing balls of the zone after getting ahead 2-0, Refsnyder was able to steal second to put himself in scoring position in front of the RBI guy, Ryan Goins.
RBI Goins once again came through, poking a single through the 5-6 hole into shallow left field. Derek Fisher got the ball quickly, yet Windmill Rivera sent Refsnyder home where even a decent throw should have had him. But it was not a strong throw, and up the first base line, forcing Brian McCann to dive back towards the plate. Refsnyder avoided the tag, deftly sneaking his hand around McCann reaching towards his body to tap the corner of the plate, giving the Jays the lead.
Roberto Osuna came in for the bottom of the 10th, and turned the page on his recent struggles in slamming the door with two strikeouts and a first pitch groundout on 11 pitches.
In addition to scoring the last run of the game, the Jays were also the first to get on the board as well. Josh Donaldson continued his power surge, doubling in his first trip to the plate off Charlie Morton to cash Jose Bautista who had singled leading off.
The lead was very short lived, as Marco Estrada walked Fisher leading off, and proceeded to give up a cheap home run to Josh Reddick that just edged over the wall in right field. Live by the fly ball, die by the fly ball. He struck out the next two batters to finish the inning, and set down the side in order in the 2nd before giving up another home run to Tyler White leading off the 3rd inning. This one on a fastball right down the pipe that was demolished.
Again, Estrada rebounded and set down the next seven batters before giving up an infield single in the 5th. He worked around a walk in the 6th, but was pitching really strong heading into the 7th. So of course he immediately got into a serious jam, with a single by Carlos Beltran and double by Alex Bregman putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with none out (the run not scoring primarily because Beltran is really slow).
But Estrada rallied big time, inducing a foul out to Russell Martin, and two swinging strikeouts to strand both runners and prevent the go ahead runs from scoring. Estrada finished his 7 innings having allowed 3 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts.
Ryan Tepera relieved Estrada, and was fantastic himself. He set the side down in order in the 8th, and was on his way to doing so again the 9th having set down five in a row with two strikeouts and nary a hard hit ball before walking Bregman. He got McCann to send the game to those extras.
Meanwhile, the Jays had tied the game in the 2nd inning, after a leadoff walk by Steve Pearce and a single by RBI Goins. Kevin Pillar struck out, but Darwin Barney singled to load the bases with two out. Bautista brought the equalizer home with an RBI groundout, but that was the extent of the scoring.
They went down in order in three of the next four innings, stranding two runner in the 5th. Down 3-2 in the 7th, they got to Morton again. Pillar led off with an infield single, and went to third on Barney's single. Bautista once again got the run home with a ground ball, reaching on a fielder's choice to give the Jays a great opportunity to retake the lead. BUt Martin bounced into a double play, more or less killing the rally.
They had another golden opportunity to take the lead in the 8th, with back-to-back one out walks and a wild pitch putting the go ahead run at third with one out and RBI Goins at the plate. Unfortunately, he's not perfect, and fouled out. Ken Giles came in to retire Pillar.
A nice looking game chart:
The nature of this game lent itself to having lots of heroes and a fair number of goats.
Jays of the Day: Barney (+0.263 WPA, 3/4); Tepera (+0.237); Goins (+0.227); Osuna (+0.193); Bautista (+0.155); Carrera (+0.151), Refsnyder (+0.117 for walking and a great slide in his lone PA). Estrada (+0.031) falls short, but holding this crew to 3 runs in 7 innings certainly merits one.
Suckage: Martin (-0.355, 0/5, 2K); Smoak (-0.233, also 0/5, 3K), Kevin Pillar (-0.146, 1/5, 2K). Pearce's two walks spares him from the indignity (-0.080).
Tomorrow is the rubbermatch of the series with Marcus Stroman opposing Mike Fiers at 2:05 EDT.