It’s a good thing for the Blue Jays that ugly wins count the same as all the others in the standings, because this win was not pretty. The Blue Jays capitalized just enough on a panoply of walks and defensive blunders to pull out a 7-5 win in the series opener in Minnesota.
The Jays jumped out to the lead in the 2nd inning, loading the bases with one out and Lourdes Gurriel up. He dribbled a ball down the third base line, which Minnesota’s catcher Mitch Garver inexplicably let roll as Yangervis Solarte ran past him to score instead of picking it up and tagging him. In fairness, the ball was possibly foul when he picked it up (none of it was touching the chalk though the outer edge appeared to be over it). But nonetheless, you can’t just let it sit there as all the runners move.
That made it 1-0, and though Aledmys Diaz failed to get another run home with less than 2 out in striking out, Curtis Granderson drew the first of five walks from Lance Lynn to force in the second run. That was it, and the Jays again stranded the bases loaded on the 3rd inning, failing to capitalize on a pair of two out walks when Gurriel struck out.
Granderson drew another walk with one out in the 4th, moving to third on a double by Teoscar Hernandez, somewhat misplayed in the outfield. The Jays were gifted a run on a passed ball allowing Granderson to score, though it was essentially obviated very soon thereafter as Justin Smoak launched a complete bomb to right field to make it 5-0.
Leading off the 5th inning, Russell Martin launched his own moon shoot to left field, restoring the five run lead at 6-1. That was it for a while, as the bats went into one of their all-too-familiar mid/late slumbers, the next 10 batters set down in order through the 8th inning.
That didn’t look like it was going to be an issue, with Aaron Sanchez trucking along and staked to a solid lead. But even with good results to that point it certainly wasn’t his sharpest outing. He got out of bases loaded jam in the 2nd, and around a walk in the 3rd. He wasn’t so fortunate in the 4th as Max Kepler led off by drilling a leadoff “triple”, ie, a double at best misplayed by Teoscar. Kepler stumbled tagging on the ensuing fly ball, but scored on an RBI groundout instead.
The 5th looked like it would be quick shutdown inning, but a two out walk opened the door and Eduardo Escobar took full advantage with a two run homer to make it 6-3. The Twins got even closer in the 6th as a leadoff double was cashed on a couple of groundouts. That was the end of line for Sanchez.
Gibby’s new favourite reliever Aaron Loup gave up a single leading off, and after getting Eddie Rosario to foul out departed in favour of Danny Barnes. He induced a foul out of his own before trouble found him. The game was nearly tied as Kepler tried to put one into orbit, but it couldn’t quite escape Solarte’s gravitational pull and instead banged off the high wall in right field for an RBI double. 6-5, white knuckle time.
The Jays finally awoke from their slumber to make a little noise in the 8th, but Gurriel was thrown out stealing on replay after an infield single. A shame, as Diaz singled and Granderson walked behind him, but nothing came of it. Fortunately, Tyler Clippard was totally on point, striking out the side in order to preserve the one run lead going to the 9th.
The wind then gifted the Jays some breathing room, as Rosario misplayed a Smoak fly ball leading off the inning, putting him on second. Solarte followed with a single, and so of course with none out Windmill Rivera sent Smoak home. The throw in hit the mound, or Smoak was probably out at the plate. A subsequent E4 didn’t cause any further damage, but it was about half a dozen defensive miscues at that point.
Roberto Osuna, nailed down the save, albeit in Kevin Gregg fashion as Rosario singled and Max Kepler doubled to put the tying run at second with two out. A routine flyout ended the game.
With that, the Jays finish the month of April at 16-12. They’ve certainly left a few wins on the table, but it’s a heck of a lot more palatable than the 8-17 mark on this date one trip around the sun ago.
Tip of the cap to erik.t for inspiring the title. Or if you hate fun and puns, I suppose a hearty jeer.
Jays of the Day: Clippard (+0.149 WPA), Granderson (+0.139), Osuna (+0.102). Solarte, Smoak and Pillar were all very close ranging from +0.81 to +0.89. Honourable mention to Garver behind the plate.
Suckage: None; Diaz earned the low watermark at -0.076
Tomorrow, the 8:05 EDT May Day matchup features Marco Estrada and Kyle Gibson.
lalaprise was the victor in the comment section, with an even 100.
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