Ken Giles was not available last night, and it was clear why as though he came in tonight but was not right. He ultimately got the save, but in the nail-biting manner reminiscent of Kevin Gregg and his imitable bend-but-just-barely-don’t-totally-break style of finishing games. Ah, those halcyon days of 2010...
Up two runs going to that 9th inning, Giles allowed a no doubter to dead centre by Marwin Gonzalez to cut the the margin to one (actually, all three home runs tonight were absolute bombs). He then pitched around Nelson Cruz (the old non-intentional intentional walk), and the Jays failed to turn two on a bouncer to SS. Giles got Mitch Garver to just barely go around on a check swing, putting him on the precipice of gutting out a save. But Byron Buxton mashed a ball to left field, with C.J. Cron running on contact. He got the wave, but Teoscar Hernandez got the the ball quickly and made a strong throw to Freddy Galvis, who made a perfect relay home to Jansen to cut down the tying run by a few feet.
Before we get deeper into tonight’s game though, let’s take a moment to note that tonight was a clean org sweep. In fact, it was a Super clean org sweep, since not only did all teams in the organization playing tonight win (an org sweep), but all were playing with none suspended/postponed (clean), and in fact with Buffalo making up yesterday’s rainout, there was an extra one (super). And the kicker? Every single one of them were on the road.
The Herd pulled put a pair of one run nail-biters, 3-2 this afternoon and then storming back from a 4-0 deficit with a five run 7th off Jenry Mejia. New Hampshire won 4-1 behind five shutout though tenuous innings from Hector Perez, with Kevin Smith hitting a home run. Dunedin shutout the Charlotte Stone Crabs 2-0 behind six shutout innings from Nick Allgeyer. And Lansing downed West Michigan 5-2 behind seven strong innings from Joey Murray, who had all three pitches working tonight and Hagen Danner providing the power to support.
Back to the Jays game, Aaron Sanchez was very strong early. There were some baserunners, but he worked around them, the only blemish a solo shot by Jorge Polanco in the 3rd. Afer that, he set down the next seven in order, four by strikeout, cruising through five inning with only about 60 pitches.
Alas, the hitters were doing the usual sleepwalking routine early. After Eric Sogard led off the game with a single, that was it other than a couple walks over the first five innings.
The switch flipped in the 6th. Danny Jansen singled leading off, Sogard doubled and Randal Grichuk walked to load the bases with one out. Justin Smoak, Rowdy Tellez, and even Alen Hanson then followed with RBI singles (two on Smoak’s) to stake Sanchez to a 4-1 lead.
It was not to last. Sanchez lost the plate, walked the first two batters, and then gave up a blast to Eddie Rosario to tie things up 4-4. He then recovered with three straight weak groundouts, but the damage was done and his night was over.
The decisive swings for the Jays came in the 7th, as Sogard singled for his third hit, and followed by two out walks to Grichuk and Smoak to load the bases. Teoscar then lined a ball into left to drive in two runs. Of course, no Blue Jays game would be complete these days without a TOOTBLAN, so Teoscar ended the inning by trying to take second though Smoak was not going to third, thus forcing him to belatedly break and easily being put out.
Daniel Hudson and Thomas Pannone handled a scoreless seventh, Joe Biagini a perfect 8th (despite starting 3-0 to the first batter), and the Jays have a strange-hold lead on the four game series.
Jays of the Day: Sogard (+0.236 WPA), Smoak (0.204), Teoscar (0.190, plus gunning down the tying run at the plate to end the game).
Suckage: Galvis (-0.213) and Sanchez (-0.195). Sort of a tough one to hand on Sanchez since he was so good for five innings, but it’s not a five inning game. Socrates Brito (-0.071) came up short of the number, but 0/4 with three strikeouts earns him one.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to lock down the series as Trent Thornton looks to rebound from getting shelled by Tampa against former Ray Jake Odorizzi (whom the Jays shelled five or six weeks ago in Spring Training. Same 7:40 EDT time, same place, same lack of being in Sportsnet because hockey.