To be completely honest, at this point there's not a whole lot keeping me interested in the 2017 season as the Blue Jays play out the string. Baltimore entered this last 2017 series with the Blue Jays on the very fringes of the wild card hunt at 71-72, three games out and needing to pass four teams. The opportunity to bury a bitter division rival's postseason hopes is certainly something, and to that end the Jays got off to a good start tonight by edging them out.
The bottom of the order did most of the damage offensively. The Jays opened the scoring n the 2nd inning, as Teoscar Hernandez lead off with a double, advancing to third on a error and scoring on a groundout by Ryan Goins right behind him.
We were then treated to some déjà vu all over again, as Darwin Barney lined a ball into right-centre, turned around second before slamming on the brakes. But the ball was then mishandled in the outfield, so he took back off towards third, stumbled about three quarters of the way, and crawled into 3rd T-Rex style. Another double and error, and he too scored, this time on a double by Richard Urena.
The Jays had an early 2-0 lead, at which point the game settled into a pattern. The Orioles would score a run to narrow the deficit, and the Jays would respond with a run to extend the lead back to two. Though really, the Jays didn't no a whole lot offensively. In the 4th, Goins ran into one off Ubaldo Jimenez, taking him yard for a solo shot.
The last run - and as it turned out the winning run - was a fortuitous one. Old friend Miguel Castro engaged in some Miguel-on-Miguel violence by hitting Montero leading off. Teoscar hit a tapper to third for an infield single. Both advanced on a Goins groundout, and Montero scored on bouncer towards first that Barney beat out. Urena couldn't get the runner in from third with one out as he struck out, but beggars can't be choosers.
On the other side of the ball, Marco Estrada was on the mound and in excellent form the first time through the order. Over the first three innings, he faced one over the minimum, a single, while piling up five strikeouts. He ran into trouble the second time through, as Manny Machado left off the 4th with a double and scored on a single by Adam Jones.
After the Goins homer, the Orioles punched right back, with Mark Trumbo leading off the 5th with his own solo shot. Estrada navigated through the rest of the inning easily with three groundouts, but with the middle of the order due up and having already thrown 95 pitches, it was the end of his night. A solid effort, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in 5 inning with 7 strikeouts and nary a free pass.
That put the lead into the hands of the bullpen, and it being September, a cavalcade of relievers:
- Danny Barnes pitched a perfect 6th, quick and easy on 9 pitches. He came back out for the 7th, walked the first batter on four pitches, but it seemed likely he was only out for one batter anyway as two relievers were warm. Personally, I'd have give him the 7th too, but that's not in vogue these days
- Matt Dermody came in for one batter, striking out Chris Davis. Then two batters into the inning, we got out third pitcher of the inning...three jeers for September baseball!
- Tom Koehler finished the inning, but allowed a tow out single up the middle to score the inherited runner and again make it a one run game
- Carlos Ramirez easily handled the 8th in order, and again, I'd have been happy to see him stay in for the 9th
- But in the stead of Roberto Osuna, Dominic Leone locked down the 9th after a leadoff groundball single by Jones, punctuated by two swinging strikeouts
Jays of the Day: Dominant Leone (+0.166 WPA), Ramirez (0.123), Barney (0.115 plus the LOLs), Teoscar (0.109), Goins (0.089)
Suckage: Ezequiel Carrera (-0.093, 0/4, 2K)
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to do further damage to Baltimore's playoff chances, same time same place, with Joe Biagini taking on Dylan Bundy in a matchup of 2011 draftees with slightly different paths to the big leagues.