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Justin Smoaks a 9th Inning Grand Slam to Fish Out a Win

9th inning heroics can brighten the darkest of days

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays: 6 Marlins: 5

This game was brutal to start, with Sanchez giving up five runs early on and the Jays only scoring one over eight innings. Topped off with the Josh Donaldson trade news, it was a pretty bleary evening.

However, the 9th inning was full of joy and delight. A lad named Bear Claw Barraclough gave up a lead off single to Morales, who advanced to second on a wild pitch combined with an airmailed throw over second. Kevin Pillar struck out, but Randal Grichuk walked and Danny Jansen had an infield hit that popped out of Starlin Castro’s glove to load the bases with one out. Aledmys Diaz was called out on strikes, but Devon Travis worked a bases loaded walk to bring in a run. A fellow Buck referred to as Jason Smoak pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot and deposited a 0-2 fastball over the right field wall for a grand slam, turning a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead. It was his first pinch hit home run, and his third career grand slam.

Ken Giles had us on the edge of our seats in the bottom of the 9th. He gave up a lead off single to Miguel Rojas, struck out Castro but then threw four straight balls to Riddle to put the tying run at 2nd. He managed to get a pop out and a lazy fly out to secure his 19th save of the season.

Both starting pitchers were dealing early on. In the first three innings, Dan Straily retired nine in a row and Sanchez faced one over the minimum, issuing a walk to Starlin Castro who was caught stealing on very nice throw from Danny Jansen. Neither were striking out a ton of batters, there were just a lot of fly balls that died in the seemingly gigantic outfield. Sanchez also continued his ongoing battle with strikes, as he fell behind early and often. He was hurt a couple times by an inconsistent strike zone, but he wasn’t great.

After not allowing a hit through the first three innings, Sanchez gave up a lead off a double in the fourth to a guy named Brian Anderson. Anderson advanced to third on a groundout and came around to score on a single by Derek Dietrich. The Marlins scored another run on back-to-back singles by Starlin Castro and JT Riddle, and then one more on a groundout. Billy McKinney also threw to the wrong base which allowed Riddle to advance to second. Sanchez intentionally walked Magneuris Sierra to get to the pitcher’s spot, and struck out Straily to end the inning.

The Marlins tagged on two more in the 4th, when new noted Blue Jay killer Brian Anderson doubled again and then Realmuto, Dietrich and Castro all singled behind him. Sanchez was pulled from the game going 4.1 innings, having given up 5 runs on 8 hits with only two strikeouts. Another really rough outing for him. The bullpen put up zeros the rest of the way.

  • Danny Barnes came in and got the last two outs in the 5th
  • Murphy Smith pitched a scoreless six despite loading the bases
  • Tim Mayza gave up a double and hit a batter in the 7th and
  • Joe Biagini had a great eighth, allowing only a single

Lourdes Gurriel got the Jays’ first hit in the 4th, and showed off some good heads up base running advancing to second on a fly ball to the warning track.

Apparently we scored in the 6th, but I was busy watching the Josh Donaldson trade news fly by on Twitter so I wasn’t paying attention. I know Curtis Granderson pinch hit in what may have been his last at bat as a Blue Jay, and he singled. Billy McKinney followed with a double, and then Lourdes Gurriel scored Granderson with a sac fly. A lovely way for Granderson to go out if so.

Danny Jansen walked in the 7th, and McKinney singled in the 8th. Straily ended up throwing 8 full innings of one run ball. He had the Blue Jays’ number, but his good outing was put to waste with the Marlins’ atrocious relief efforts.

Here’s the win probability graph:

TL;DR: How did the Baby Jays do?

Billy McKinney: 3-for-5, and threw to the wrong base

Lourdes Gurriel Jr: 1-for-4 with an RBI, had a good heads up base running play

Danny Jansen: 1-for-3 with a walk and infield hit, threw out Castro stealing second

Murphy Smith: loaded the bases but pitched a scoreless inning

Tim Mayza: pitched a scoreless inning

Super Jay of the Day: Smoak (+.735)

Jays of the Day: Giles (.196), but the rest of the bullpen should get one too

Suckage: Sanchez (-.211), Diaz (-.092, for striking out in a crucial at bat) and Pillar came close (-.083)

We had 675 comments in the GameThread, fueled a bit by the Donaldson trade. Expo45 pulled out a very tight win, much like the Jays.

# Commenter # Comments
1 Expo45 61
2 Alan F. 60
3 barraqudie 58
4 delv213 52
5 Kevin Dunphy 43
6 FlipDown Shades 39
7 _Bishop 39
8 lalalaprise 33
9 Kate Stanwick 32
10 Link Floyd 21
11 fishedin 21
12 Matt W 21
13 westbromjayfan 20
14 radivel 20
15 ice_hawk10 19
16 erik.t 17
17 BlueJayEMT 17
18 Manitoudog 13
19 Minor Leaguer 12
20 stefanarsic10 12

Tomorrow the Jays will look to take the series. Marco Estrada will oppose Wei-Yin Chen at 7:10pm.