For one night, the future of the Blue Jays was on display. 2017 first rounder Nate Pearson came out firing two hitless innings, with four strikeouts while touching triple digits on the stadium scoreboard. He was followed by 2018 third rounder Adam Kloffenstein, who threw two scoreless innings of his own despite giving up some hard contact, with two strikeouts. Fellow teenager (at least for two more weeks) Jol Concepcion didn’t fare quite so well, as a run of free passes early resulted in two runs scored, though he got a pair of double plays in his two innings to limit the damage. Naswell Paulino allowed a pair of unearned runs in his inning.
If you’re a little confused at this point, that was in fact a summary of the 12th Annual Crosstown Showdown exhibition game between the Lansing Lugnuts and Michigan State, won 6-4 by the Lugnuts despite some sloppy play in the field late. But trust me when I say it was the more compelling contest in the Blue Jays organization tonight.
For up in Toronto, the Jays dropped another game to Tampa Bay. I know, shocking isn’t it. That runs the Jays’ record this year to 10-34 against teams in the AL East that shouldn’t be relegated to the
South Atlantic League International League. But no worries, of the last 24 games, only 14 are against those teams. And only seven of the others are against division leading teams. It’ll all work out.
Speaking of things that didn’t work out: the Blue Jays’ “offence”. Acknowledging that one run on four hits was a pretty abysmal level of output last night, the Jays set out to rectify their shortcomings tonight by pounding out (checks notes) three hits and getting shutout by seven Tampa pitchers. Why settle for being dominated by three pitchers when you can steamrolled by seven?
Sadly, what was even more pitiful than the lack of output was how the Jays managed not to score. Devon Travis led off the first inning with a double, moved to third on a Smoak groundout before Kendrys Morales was hit by a pitch. With two strikes on Randall Grichuk, the Jays put the runners in motion, or at least Morales anyway. Grichuk struck out, Morales was (shockingly) thrown out before Travis could score from third, so that was great. I’m really not sure if it was a broken hit-and-run, or an attempted double steal where Morales was supposed to get into a run down, but let’s just go with stupid.
Then we fast forward to the 9th. After Travis grounded out leading off, Justin Smoak walked and Morales singled him to third. Alas, Grichuk fouled out to third so we couldn’t get the runner in from third with less than two out.
In between? The Jays went in order in six of the seven innings. The exception was the 6th when Aledmys Diaz singled leading off. It was still a one run game, so he was sac bunted to second, because when you’re making outs like the Jays have been recently, what one more. He was stranded there despite a Smoak walk.
On the plus side, Ryan Borucki turned in another good outing. He had a rough first inning, starting with an infield single and a couple walks to load the bases, though he got out of it with a couple strikeouts but also a pitch count above 30.
He got in trouble again in the second inning, after a leadoff single and then a bunt single courtesy an overturned review. A sac bunt and a ground out scored the run. From that point onwards, Borucki just rolled as he had perfect innings in the 3rd through 6th innings save for a Travis error in the 4th. It looked like he might even cruise though 7 innings, but Willy Adames battled him for a long at-bat to close the 6th and run up his pitch count. He hit Kevin Kiermaier with his first pitch of the 7th, which ended his night.
Alas, it was downhill from there. Jake Petricka allowed the inherited runner to score (well, technically not, as his first batter faced grounded into a fielder’s choice, but still charged to Borucki) as he was rocked for a hard double, hard triple, and then a single. Just a triple shy of a cycle!
Thomas Pannone and Taylor Guerrieri finished the game with shutout innings. Pannone hit a guy with a breaking ball that didn’t break, that’s all that I remember. Sorry not sorry.
Jays of the Day: Borucki (+0.174 WPA)
Suckage: Everyone else? Technically just Petricka (-0.199), Grichuk (-0.133), Morales (-0.097), and since I’m feeling generous tonight Pillar can have one too (-0.088).
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to avoid another lackluster loss to the Rays (make me come up with a new title guys, I dare you) and a series sweep at 7:05 eastern. Aaron Sanchez and Tyler Glasnow will take the hill in a matchup of very tall, hard throwing, curveball wielding, inconsistent right-handed Californians (I hope I just busted a bunch of prospective find-the-links on Erik).