Cleveland 1 at Blue Jays 2 (10 innings)
With Aaron Sanchez turning in his best start in a long time, it looked like the Jays were bound to squander it as they in turn were stymied by Trevor Bauer and headed towards a 1-0 defeat. In five of the eight innings he went out to the mound, the Jays went down in order. In the other three, they couldn’t make anything of very good scoring opportunities.
In the second, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio led off with back-to-back walks. But Randal Grichuk hit into a double play followed by a Tesocar Hernandez striking out to halt that nascent opportunity in its tracks. Vladdy led off the 5th with a double, but advanced no further despite Tesocar walk as a couple of strikeouts ended the inning. Tesocar led off the 8th with a single, advanced on a wild pitch, but was gunned out at the plate trying to score on a single by Lourdes Gurriel. That was the end of Bauer, around 120 pitches.
It was a different story entirely once the Jays got into the Cleveland bullpen. Closer Brad Hand came in for the 9th, Justin Smoak wasted little time in welcoming him/ruining his night, driving a breaking ball with no finish to centre to tie the game:
THIS JUST-IN: It's a brand new ballgame! #SmoakAlert | #LetsGoBlueJays pic.twitter.com/vYoIGOBURZ— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 24, 2019
Right behind him, Biggio hit a ball pretty swell to centre, but it died. Vladdy then smashed another ball, an absolute laser at 114 MPH that just didn’t have the height to get out, crashing off the wall about 18 inches shy of being a walkoff. As it was, it was hit so hard he had to settle for a single, wisely declining to try taking a extra base after last night. Grichuk followed with a single, but Teoscar struck out to end the threat.
Ken Giles came in for the 10th, and worked a scoreless if messy inning after of the first three reached, rebounding to punctuate the inning with a strikeout. Cleveland brought in third straight low slot righty for the 10th, but the third time was no charm for them. The first two batters went down, but then Eric Sogard walked, Freddy Galvis hit a slow bouncer to third he beat out, which brought Smoak back up to the plate. This time it wasn’t a blast, but he just barely found a hole on another breaking ball:
Sound the Smoak Alarm, we smell a #WALKOFF! pic.twitter.com/y0SlXcqZ0E— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 24, 2019
What shouldn’t be lost in that late inning rally was what enabled it; that is, good pitching starting with Sanchez and then the bullpen further holding the line such that it was still a one swing game in the 9th and two runs could take it.
Sanchez delivered his cleanest start in a long time, five innings with five hits and six strikeouts, and most importantly no free passes — or walks anyway, there was a hit by pitch. He had apparently already matched Brandow Morrow’s team record of 60 straight starts with a walk and tonight would have broken it. He was perfect the first time though until allowing a single to the #9 hitter, and granted he was probably fortunate not to allow more as the second time was much rougher and he had jams in the 4th and 5th after allowing the run in the 3rd.
After him, the bullpen was excellent. Joe Biagini worked two clean innings, and Daniel Hudson followed with his own in the 8th. David Phelps couldn’t quite claim the same, with a one out walk sandwiched around a couple of strikeouts, but Danny Jansen gunned that runner down trying to steal second to end the inning such that Phelps faced the minimum as well. And then Giles added a fifth scoreless inning for the bullpen.
Super Jay of the Day: Smoak (+0.780). I think at some point we decided that +0.800 would be an even higher level of JoTD (I think when Chad Jenkins threw six shutout extra innings), but I don’t remember what it is so it’s good Smoak feel slightly short
Jays of the Day: Vlad (+0.141), Sanchez (+0.140), Giles (+0.139), and Biagini (+0.112)
Blew Jays: Billy McKinney (-0.186), Grichuk (-0.146), and Galvis (-0.137); with a handful of others who flew close to the sun. Gurriel (-0.174) had the number, only because it includes his hit as a big negative with Tesocar out at the plate.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look at take the rubbermatch with Marcus Stroman against
Justin Shane Beiber at the usual 7:05 PM eastern start time, albeit merely on the normal tubes rather than the high-faluten You-tubes.