Given the tough assignment of facing the defending World Champions and opposing one of baseball’s better starting pitchers in his Major League debut, Ryan Borucki turned in a solid effort and a quality start. Alas, he still came out on the wrong end as the Blue Jays were almost completely shutdown by Charlie Morton, and the bullpen let a close game turn into a blowout late. For good measure, when that was not enough, Jake Marisnick turned the tables and more or less returned the Grichuk trick from yesterday to first help keep the Jays off the scoreboard and then pad the lead.
Borucki went 6 innings, finishing with a final line of 2 runs (both earned) on 6 hits and 4 walks and 3 strikeouts. Interestingly, all four walks were on our pitches, three of them to Jose Altuve. When the Astros did hit him, they squared him up pretty good as four of the hits were doubles, none of them of the cheap variety.
Borucki struggled with command especially in the early going, likely and understandably battling nerves/adrenaline as he consistently was missing up and away with his fastball. On the positive side, he had some good arm side life on his two seamer especially, and his change-up helped keep hitters off his fastball though it was not overwhelming in and of itself. Perhaps most curiously, given hi strong ground ball profile throughout the minors, 12 of 18 balls in play were in the air. Then again, the Astros are known for elevating the ball.
Broucki walked a bit of a tightrope for most of the game, as runners reached in every inning and frequently were in scoring position with none out after the first time through the order. Aledmys Diaz helped him out of a couple of two on, two out situations in the 2nd and 3rd innings with strong defensive plays. Borucki stranded a leadoff double in the third, assisted by Russell Martin making a great snag on a foul tip.
The left on magic eventually gave out in the 5th. After Alex Bregman hit his second double of the game with one out and Altuve followed with the walk, Borucki got a fly out and was poised to work through yet another jam. But a wild pitch advanced the runners and then Evan Gattis snuck a ground ball up the middle to cash both runners. And that was essentially the game. Borucki returned for one more inning and erased his only non-Altuve walk with a ground ball double play, ending his night on a high note.
Bottom line, it wasn’t the smoothest outing and Borucki didn’t have his best stuff, but you can’t ask for much more than turning in a quality start against the Astros and their boppers.
What you can ask for is your batters to not strike out 13 times over seven innings against Morton and 15 times overall. They never really threatened, and when Justin Smoak did slam a ball deep to left-centre, Jake Marisnick picked it high off the wall. So it goes.
Preston Guilmet worked a decent 7th, just a double to Bregman who was hitting everyone. The 8th wasn’t as pretty as Marisnick orched him for a 3 run bomb. Tim Mayza came in to throw some more gasoline on the fire, giving up a bomb to Bregman. Whatever. Hopefully they got all it out of their system tonight.
Jays of the Day: None, but Borucki (+0.019 WPA) gets one for a quality start in his MLB debut against a very potent offensive lineup.
Suckage: Smoak had the low number (-0.094) but doesn’t merit being singled out considering he was robbed of extra bases. Let’s just give one collectively to every player who took the field tonight not named Ryan. And maybe Solarte and Martin
Tomorrow, Marco Estrada will look to continue his run of excellent start starts in June (interesting, only his 5th start on the month) and pitch the Jays to a series win against the defending champs and Dallas Keuchel in 2:10 EDT getaway start time.