At the outset, I will readily admit to Maile-ing things in a fair bit by recycling the same Waguespack headline pun from a couple weeks ago. But considering that the ony sure thing tonight was that two teams would take the field averaging 100 losses and leave the field averaging more than 100 losses, I hardly think I can be blamed for playing out the string in turn. And in fairness, Jacob Waguespack was really good.
Making his last start, Waguespack evened his rookie season record at 5-5 by throwing six shutout innings while the Blue Jays built a 3-0 lead behind him. He was more solid than spectacular in scattering four hits and two free passes over the six innings with five strikeouts. He got some help from sequencing, getting double play balls to end the first and second innings, and having the only inning with multiple baserunners occur with two outs in the 3rd. It’s the Orioles, but still a nice way to end the season.
The Orioles appeared lethargically resigned to loss number 100-and-something, and it looked with the Jays might be on cruise control to a win after Jason Adam put up a scoreless 7th (though working around two runners). He gave way to Jordan Romano, who easily dispatched Jonathan Villar with a strikeout. And then hit a bump. Two singles were sandwiched around a walk to load the bases. He got a groundout to get the second run at the cost of the shutout, but then promptly reloaded them with a HBP that ended his night.
That brought in Wilmer Font after his disastrous opening Sunday, and he couldn’t find the zone and walked in the second run. Ultimately he got Chris Davis to fly out to end the inning on a hitable pitch that frankly he’s have probably hit out three or four years ago. As it turns out, that the last ball put in play. Old friend Richard Bleier buzzsawed through the middle of the order in the bottom of the 8th, and then Ken Giles returned the favour in a dominant 9th to lack down the win, narrowly missing an immaculate inning.
Offensively, the Jays didn’t do much, managing just five hits and four walks. Fortunately, three of those hits were (solo) home runs, which provided just barely enough margin. Billy McKinney led off the game by sending a fliner just over the right field wall to put the Jays on the board. Rowdy Tellez led off the 4th by yanking a fly ball into a stands in right field for his 20th home run of the season. Once upon a time that was a really meaningful threshold; in 2019, he’s the 126 player to hit the threshold (assuming none of the seven others at 19 got there first). He added his 21st of the season leading off the 6th, going the other way to left field. And that was it. MCKinney also added two walks, as did Cavan Biggio to extend his streak.
Jays of the Day: Waguespack (+0.347 WPA), Giles (+0.147), Rowdy (+0.139), McKinney (+0.112)
Blew Jays: Romano (-0.122)
Tomorrow is the last off-day of the season before the Jays welcome Tampa to town in a potential spoiler role with the Rays entangled in an almost dead heat with Oakland and Cleveland with one bound to end up on the outside while the other two meet in a wild card game. On balance, I’d lean towards wanting Cleveland to miss, but it wouldn’t exactly be heartbroken either if the Jays drove a stake through the heart of Tampa’s season. T.J. Zeuch is scheduled to take on the omnipresent TBD.