This game was ugly from start to finish for Toronto. Right out of the gate, Aaron Sanchez needed a compass and a GPS to find the strike zone. 13 of the first 17 pitches he threw were balls, and only one of them were good enough for the Rays to swing at. In fact, if that one pitch that C.J. Cron did swing at didn’t result in a double play, Tampa might have put a very big number on the board in the opening frame.
Instead, the Jays nearly nearly got out of an inning where Sanchez walked three without any damage, but Lourdes Gurriel made a two out error where the ball kicked off the heel of his glove and allowed a run score. It would not be the last error Gurriel made in this game.
Sanchez’s command only improved slightly as the game went on. Just over half of the 85 pitches he threw ended up outside of the strike zone, and he was out of the game after recording just eleven outs while allowing nine base runners. This continues a very troubling trend for Sanchez who has now failed to strike out more hitters than he’s walked in five of his seven starts this season. Combine this with the troubles we’ve seen from Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and Jaime Garcia, and there’s real reason for concern about this rotation.
The Tampa rally in the fourth inning that knocked Sanchez out of the game was also aided by the second Gurriel error of the night. However, as bad as the throw was here (and it was horrible considering the distance and the amount of time he had to make the throw) Kendrys Morales made just as poor of a play on the receiving end.
Now this is probably a bit unfair, but I find the Morales part of this significantly more annoying since Gurriel is raw and still learning the ropes. Morales, once again, showed that he’s completely useless in this game. He can only DH or play first base (and after seeing the way he picks the ball there this series I’d even question that), he can’t run a lick, he’s a butcher defensively, and after tonight’s 0-4 at the plate, he now has only four hits in his last 46 at bats. The only way he can really provide value at this point is if he’s hitting the ball over the wall, and that seems to be happening less and less often these days. If the Jays consider themselves a group that intends to at least contend for a second Wild Card spot, this guy probably can’t be on the roster much longer.
There were also bad plays on offense in this game.
After allowing Tampa to jump out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth, the Jays responded with a one-two-three top of the fifth where they only forced Faria to throw six pitches.
In the sixth inning, the bottom of the order managed to give the Jays a first and third situation with nobody out, but Teoscar Hernandez stuck out and Josh Donaldson hit into a double play to end the threat. It was one of two occasions where Donaldson came to the plate in a high leverage spot and put the ball on the ground, and if you’ve ever heard Josh explain his approach at the plate, it’s exactly what he does not want to do.
Then is the seventh, Solarte got himself into a 3-1 count to lead off the inning and chased a pitched off the plate into a popup. This was a horrible baseball play as the Jays were down three runs and needed base runners. Solarte was in a count where he only had to swing if he got hit pitch somewhere in the zone, and instead he did the Rays a huge favor. You could tell how angry he was with himself after this at bat too knowing he gift wrapped a precious leadoff out.
The Jays would make their third error of the night in the eighth when Russell Martin misplayed a ball hit in front of the plate; taking a peak at the runner heading to third and ultimately not getting anyone out. This unusual defensive miscue from Martin helped lead to a Rays insurance run on a sac fly.
The Jays also didn’t get much help in this game from home plate umpire C.B. Buckner, as he missed several calls in this game. (He’s not the main reason the Jays lost though. They did more than enough to shoot themselves in the foot tonight.) Eventually, the frustration boiled over enough for John Gibbons to head out and get tossed before the final inning of play. (I can’t really blame Gibby for not wanting the see the end of this one.) The ejection was the 46th of his managerial career.
Even the challenge department was not kind to Toronto. Mallex Smith was called safe on this play to lead off the fourth, and New York did not overturn it.
It was the tenth time this season the Jays have lost a challenge, and since they’ve still only won two, their 17 percent success rate ranks as the worst in the American League in this department.
There were a couple of positives in this game from the young players: Gurriel and Hernandez both went deep, Diaz continued to heat up a tad with a pair of hits, and Pompey made a great diving catch in left.
However, the negatives far outweighed the positives tonight.
Jays of the Day: Hernandez (.112) with the home run and single in the seventh to drive in Diaz, and Diaz (.149) for his two hits in timely spots.
Jays Suckage: Sanchez (-.242) with his hideous control, Donaldson (-.164) with his costly double play in the sixth, Solarte (-.175) with his 0-4, and I’m giving extra suckages to Martin (-.093) for his 0-4 with an error, Morales (-.058) for his defensive miscue and just sucking in general, and C.B. Buckner for a strike zone that well, .... left a lot to be desired. (Gurriel would have gotten one too for his errors, but the home run gets him off the hook.)
Tomorrow, the series concludes as Marco Estrada takes on Chris Archer at 1:10 pm ET. The Jays will be looking for a split of this eight game road trip which all things considered, wouldn’t be too bad.