How many quality starts does it take to get your first MLB win? For Ryan Borucki, the answer is apparently six. For the sixth time in just seven MLB starts, Borucki went at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs, but this time he was the beneficiary of this novel concept called run support and was thus able to secure the all-important first career W. If we were political pundits, we might consequently say that tonight Borucki became a real MLB starting pitcher...but we know better. But on that note I will say it better be the case that if we like our Borucki, we can keep our Borucki.
For tonight may well have been the best start of Borucki’s nascent career, as he twirled a gem over eight innings while allowing just an unearned run. He only struck out two, but allowed only four hits and no free passes over 111 pitches. He induced a lot routine ground ball outs, though also a fair share of hard hits balls, a good number of which found outs. But as usual, he was unflappable and limited the damage for the sticky situation or two in which he found himself.
The sole run off Borucki came in the 4th inning. Having allowed just a Kyle Seager double over the first 10 batters faced, Mitch Haniger reached and advanced to second on an error by Aledmys Diaz. He scored when Seager ripped another ball hard on the ground into left.
After an easy 5th retiring the side in order, Borucki’s other jam came in the 6th after back to back singles with one out. He narrowly escaped, as Seager once again hit a ball really hard with two out, but ripped it right at Grichuk for an out. Borucki once again set down the side in order in the 7th, and at 97 pitches I thought he’d be done. But he back out for the 8th and once again got the side in order, albeit with another hard line drive, but snared by Devon Travis. So there was certainly some luck in having balls ripped right at defenders, but nonetheless a very good start.
As for the other side of the ball, and that run support bugaboo. The Jays jumped on Marco Gonzalez, with a leadoff double from Randall Grichuk (the first of four hits, though the last three all on the infield) followed by an RBI single by Travis (who despite a poor season line, has actually been a little average hitter in the 2+ months since coming back up from Buffalo). Gonzalez settled in, with a swinging bunt by Grichuk the only hit over the next 12 batters, and given the history one was inclined to think Borucki might have to make the one run stand.
Alas, they figured Gonzalez out. Russell Martin ended the run of futility with one out in the 4th, hitting a solo home run to double the lead to 2-0. That lead was in turn doubled in the 5th inning, as Grichuk again reached, and Travis followed by going yard himself.
That was in until the 9th, when the Jays for the second straight night put the game essentially on ice. Teoscar Hernandez led off the inning by banging a ball off the wall, ending up on third base with a triple thanks to Teoscaresque defensive play in right field. This phenomena shall henceforth be known as the Law of Conservation of Teoscarness (h/t NelsonL). At least unless Teoscar figures out whole playing fly balls, in other words, a win/win situation.
Anyway. Martin drove him home with a ground ball single, and Aledmys Diaz ripped a single of his own. Kevin Pillar brought him Martin with a sac fly, followed by Grichuk bringing him Diaz on an infield single.
Ken Giles finished out the 9th, and though it was far from perfect, he definitely showed the elite ability that made him one of the top relief aces over the past couple seasons. He allowed a couple of singles and a run (which the Jays conceded up six runs without a throw), but struck out the side swinging with nasty sliders. Must be nice that when your 96-98 MPH fastball isn’t quite on, to just throw hellacious slider after hellacious slider (though the latter single came on one he hung).
Jays of the Day: BORUCKI (+0.313 WPA), Travis (+0.203), Grichuk (+0.137), and Martin (+0.090) despite falling a touch shy numerically
Suckage: Morales (-0.102) ends up here for the first time in a while. Brandon Drury (-0.027) can have one too for the 0/4 with an error and an arguably second misplay as well
Tomorrow the Jays will look to secure the series and further damage Seattle’s postseason aspirations, though they’ll in tough with James Paxton on the mound against Marco Estrada. He can’t throw a second successive no-hitter against the Jays...right?