There are a few reasons the Blue Jays failed to sweep Seattle out of their quasi-home park on Sunday afternoon. The most obvious being that Joe Biagini gave up a pair of home runs in the 7th that put Seattle ahead for good. But while they pulled even by the middle innings on the back of an Aledmys Diaz home run, they squandered many early opportunities and it ultimately proved costly.
That started right off the bat as the Jays loaded the bases with two out but couldn’t take advantage of an extra out as Kendrys Morales struck out. A ground ball double play erased a single in the 2nd inning. But the 3rd inning was the golden opportunity that got away, as Kevin Pillar and Curtis Granderson singled back to back to open the inning. Devin Travis absolutely squared up a ball, but lined at right at Kyle Seager who deftly doubled Pillar off second. It was baseball at its most unfair, but I suppose with the way the series had gone to that point we hardly have grounds for complaints.
They did plate a run in the 5th, when Aledmys Diaz led off by smoking a double, quickly cashed by Luke Maile sending up a ball just through up the middle (a far more pleasant encore than the 2nd inning GIDP to erase Diaz after an infield single). That cut a 2-0 deficit in half, but three straight outs followed and that was it.
Fortunately, Diaz not only wasn’t done, but continued to double his total base output with each successive at bat. Following a Yangervis Solarte single to open the 7th, he launched a bomb to left-centre that tied the game 3-3. At least for a while. That was it offensively for the Jays, as Diaz could not achieve an unprecedented eight bases in one trip to the plate in the 9th.
Which takes us to the other side of the ball. Sam Gaviglio had a swingman-ish start today, which is to say he was quite effective the first couple innings the first time through the order, and progressively less so from there. In all, it was a serviceable effort as he went 5.2 innings, falling an out shy of the magical quality start in allowing 3 runs on 7 hits with 3 walks against 7 strikeouts.
He was made to pay in the 3rd inning for the cardinal sin of walking the #9 hitter, as a couple of hits loaded the bases. He gave up a hard line drive right at Diaz for the second out, and then allowed a pair of runs on a grounder that Diaz might have been able to make a play on. Baseball; ain’t it grand?
Gaviglio worked around jams and hard contact in keeping Seattle off the board over the next couple innings, until Kyle Seager crushed a home run leading off the 6th inning. He got the next couple batters, but then walked the 8th and 9th hitters to end his evenings (really, Sam, you of all pitchers can’t do that). Joe Biagini came in and got the final out to prevent the inherited runners from scoring.
Unfortunately, the 7th was a different matter entirely. With one on and one out, Nelson Cruz and Seager went back-to-back in crushing home runs. And that was that; for intents and purposes the game was over, the wind out of the Jays’ sails.
But hey, if you’d have told me as the Jays left Oakland that the Jays were merely competitive I’d have been happy, so three of four is plenty good. Unless you’re on the tankwagon for the 8th pick instead of the 10th pick.
Jays of the Day: Diaz (+0.356)
Suckage: Biagini (-0.330), Gaviglio (-0.109), Grichuk (-0.109), Morales (-0.100). Travis also had the number (-0.145), but that’s because of the DP and we shouldn’t be penalized for stinging a ball directly at a defender with runners on base.
Tomorrow, the Jays are off as they return home from the west coast swing. They’ll welcome in Boston Tuesday, with Drew Pomeranz scheduled to take on Marcus Stroman at 7:05 EDT.
A begrudging (ie, in spite of his ridiculous FTL points allocation) tip of the hat to erik.t for the title