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Borucki returns but familiar result as Jays fall 7-3

Smoak and McKinney long balls were the extent of the offense

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland 7 at Blue Jays 3

Four months into the season, Ryan Borucki made his belated 2019 debut, and it was simply good to see him back considering how lengthy elbow-related injuries have a tendency to result in a trip to one of handful of surgeons. His actual start left a little to be desired in the sharpness department, and his inability to end innings quickly after getting two outs was in downfall in ultimately having his outing cut a little short at 4.2 innings.

He got the first two outs quickly on the first, before allowing a hard double off the wall and a walk after that. He got out of the inning with no damage, but it ran his pitch count up. He allowed a leadoff single in the second, but got potential double play ball to Smoak. Unfortunately, it ended up a zero play as not only did Jake Bauers beat the return throw, but on review Freddy Galvis foot was nowhere close to second base when he received the throw. Borucki then induced a grounder that would otherwise have ended the inning, but moved the runners up a base such that both scored on a two out grounder up the middle.

The third followed a familiar arc that combined elements of the first two: two easy outs, a hard double, then ground ball single up the middle to plate the runner. By contrast, the 4th was arguably Borucki’s worst, with a rining double to start the inning, a pair of walks to loaded the bases before inducing a 4-6-3 doubple play to wriggle out with no damage.

That allowed Borucki to come back out for the 5th. He once again got two quick outs, but couldn’t finish the deal in issuing a two out walk on four pitches. That brought up Roberto Perez who ended his night with a two out drive towards right centre. It was a solid fliner, but really hung up fora while and I couldn’t help but think that Kevin Pillar would have tracked it down — or at least circa 2015-16. In all, Borucki’s line was 4.2 innings, 4 runs/2 earned on seven hits (four doubles), with four walks against three strikeouts.

Justin Shafer came in and got the last out, but got roughed up back out there for the 6th. As all the even numbered innings did tonight, it began with a hit (all the odd numbered innings began with two outs). Oscar Mercado lined a ball into right field that should have been a single, but got past McKinney for a “triple”. That was followed by a pair of walks to load the bases, before Shafer tweaked something and had to come out.

Tim Mayza allowed a sac fly for a sixth run, but otherwise held the line and had a scoreless 7th. Sam Gaviglio allowed a solo bomb to Mercado in the 8th before some two out messiness that he got out of and Derek Law pitched a clean 9th though it didnt really matter at by then.

That was because the Jays never led, largely shutdown by Mike Clevinger and squandered a few opportunities when they did some stuff. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off second by fisting a ground ball down the right field line, but foolishly tried to take second and was easily hosed by Tyler Naquin’s throw. Justin Smoak immediately followed with a mammoth solo bomb that otherwise would have tied the game at two.

They ran into another out in the 4th after Lourdes Gurriel Jr. walked to start the inning, but was caught on a strike-him-out/throw-him-out double play to end the inning. They put a pair of runs on the board in the 5th on a two run bomb by Billy McKinney with Danny Jansen on after getting plunked to pull within one, but again it was a missed opportunity to equalize: Smoak walked leading off but was erased as Randal Grichuk bounced into a double play.

And that was basically it, as Clevinger and then old friend Tyler Clippard faced the minimum of 13 batters from that point to the end of the game. The one batter to reach was Vlad on a leadoff single, erased on a Smoak double play. So it goes.

Jays of the Day: McKinney (+0.160 WPA), though demerit points for the poor defensive play

Blew Jays: Borucki (-0.211), Shafer (-0.169), Grichuk (-0.115). Galvis (-0.083) gets one too for the 0-for-4 and the error, with Cavan Biggio (-0.079) not far behind.

Tomorrow, the Jays send Aaron Sanchez against Mr. Congeniality himself, Trevor Bauer at 7 PM eastern. Sanchez has roughly twice the ERA and half the strikeouts, not to mention the unsightly 3-14 record — but hey, stranger things have happened. Like, say, drones.