Another chapter in the legend of Rowdy Tellez was written today at the Rogers Centre. Or at least - or perhaps more optimistically - another page in the first chapter was written today.
With the Jays down 1-0 in the bottom of the 4th, Justin Smoak walked leading off and Rowdy came up with one out and the Jays having accomplished very little off Tampa starter Tyler Glasnow. Tellez worked a hitter’s count, and yanked a 3-1 fastball that caught the inner edge of the plate to right field for a two run home run. That gave the Jays a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
They weren’t done though. With two out, Kevin Pillar singled, bringing up Reese McGuire. He yanked a liner down the right field line, and when the cutoff man wasn’t in proper position for the relay home, Pillar got the Windmill home (as if there was realistically any doubt). He scored giving the Jays a critical insurance run.
For though they had a runner reach in each of the next three innings (including what should have been a leadoff double for Billy McKinney in the 5th, but he came off the bag momentarily and was out on review), the Jays didn’t seriously threaten and were clinging to the narrowest of margins until the bottom of the 8th when Rowdy struck again.
With one out, Randal Grichuk - who was having an absolutely miserable day to that point - thoroughly overmatched with three strikeouts against Glasnow - lined a double into the corner. Rowdy followed by doing the same thing in turn on a breaking ball, plating Grichuk with his third hit of the day (a triple shy of the cycle, which I imagine we might say a few more times in years to come). Aledmys Diaz followed with a single to cash Anthony Alford (who pinch ran for Tellez) and further drive a nail into the Rays’ coffin despite being thrown out at 2nd.
Thomas Pannone turned in another solid outing, working into the 7th and almost completing it. He ultimately allowed 2 runs on 6 hits over 6.2 innings, with 3 walks against 5 strikeouts. The one negative was that both runs came on solo home runs, which continues to be a bit of a bugaboo for the lefty.
Overall, it was a bit of a funny outing, a series of ups and down especially in the early going. After a leadoff double to start the game, he got two strikeouts and a groundout, and worked around a single in the 2nd. He got two more groundouts to start the 3rd, but just when it looked like he was fully in stride, Tommy Pham took him deep for the first home run. Pannone proceeded to walk the bases loaded as he totally lost the zone, and the outing threatened to careen off the rails.
But Pannone got a strikeout to end it, and then an easy 4th with his last strikeout of the day sandwiched around a pair of groundouts. From the last walk through to getting the first two in the 7th, Pannone retired 11 of 12 batters, and erased the lone single on a double play. Alas, as he approached 100 pitches, he could’t get out of the inning, as Jesus Sucre took him deep to make it 3-2. A single spelled the end of his evening.
That brought Ryan Tepera in, and he had a bit of an adventure. He got ahead of his first batter, but couldn’t locate his slider and ended up issuing a walk to Pham after bouncing a bunch of his them in the dirt. He got ahead of Matt Duffy 0-2, bounced another slider, but then came back with a good one that was swung through.
Tyler Clippard got the 8th and worked around a two out single, and with the game largely on ice courtesy the late insurance runs, Ken Giles locked down the save, with the only blemish a walk an an otherwise dominant inning.
Jays of the Day: Rowdy (+0.308 WPA), Pannone (+0.146), Clippard (+0.125). We’ll give one to McGuire (+0.089) for the RBI double that was ultimately the deciding run.
Tomorrow, the Jays will try to bend the space-time continuum and actually win a series against a major league AL East opponent. Though they’ll be in tough with Blake Snell on the mound, albeit with Ryan Borucki going for them. This is about as can’t miss as September 2018 Blue Jays baseball is going to get.