Some dominant performances out of the bullpen allowed the Blue Jays overcome a lackluster start and walk the Phillies off in the 7th inning at Sahlen Field (a very weird sequence to type) to win their fourth straight game and get back to .500 and back into the playoff hunt (another weird thing to type). But in 2020, four wins is the equivalent of 11 games in a normal year, so in asense the Jays have packed two weeks of winning into the last 72 hours.
Chase Anderson had an okay start, going 3.2 innings before reaching his pitch count and coming out. He allowed a solo home run to Bryce Harper, allowed another in the third inning after the first three batters reached. He got out of that jam with an inning ending double play to limit the damage, but didn’t have any clean innings.
It was at that point that things got interesting. After much ado and even more delay, Julian Merryweather finally made his MLB debut almost two years after coming over from Cleveland in the (in)famous Josh Donaldson trade. And for today at least, he lived up to the hype, striking out Alec Bohm to end the inning with his fastball at 97-98.
He was equally effective in the 5th, striking out two more sandwiched around a single, showing off quality breaking balls as well. Seeing that apparently convinced Bryce Harper that resistance was futile, as one of the premier power threats in baseball tried to bunt his way aboard. But Merryweather thwarted that as well.
The great bullpen work continued after that, with Wilmer Font underlining the effort by allowing just a two out bunt single with strikeouts. And Jordan Romano was simply lights out in striking out the side in the 7th.
That allowed enough times for the bats to string things together and break through against the weak underbelly of the Phillies’ bullpen. It’s not that they were stymied all game, as they didn’t have a single three up/three down inning all game and had seven batters reach against Spencer Howard though he didn’t make it through the third. But until the end, it wasn’t translating to runs for the most part.
After stranding four runners through three innings, they loaded the bases with one out in the 4th on three singles by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Joe Panik, and Reese McGuire. Santiago Espinal got the runner home with a sac fly, but Blake Parker stranded the bases loaded after walking Cavan Biggio in getting Randal Grichuk to ground out.
Drawing even was to wait until Biggio came back up in the 6th. Billy McKinney singled leading off, advancing to third with two out but looking like yet another duck about to be stranded on the proverbial pond. Fortunately, Biggio smashed a double down the line to cash him, and though he in turn was another LOBster, it was a new game.
With one out in the bottom of the 7th, Tesocar Hernandez — theretofore 0-for-3 with a sombrero — ripped a single at 110 MPH, Vlad followed it up with a soft line drive single (after ripping a couple balls into gloves). Teoscar aggressively (and perhaps foolishly) went for third and just made it. With the winning run 90 feet away, the infield came in which allowed Lourdes Gurriel to chop a ball through for a game winning single.
As if blowing an early lead weren’t bad enough, to add insult to injury, Phillies reliever Jose Alvare had to leave the game and be helped off the field after taking a 105 MPH liner by Gurriel to the groin to end the 5th. Ouch!
Jays of the Day: Biggio (+0.342 WPA), Panik! At the Disco (+0.123 WPA), Vlad (+0.151), Romano (_0.147), Gurriel (+0.118). He falls a little short of the bar, but we’ll give one to Merryweather (+0.081).
Suckage: Grichuk (-0.273) with the 0-fer including a couple to end innings and strand runners. Hero yesterday, goat today; oh how cruel is baseball.
As I type this, Trent Thornton and Vince Velasquez are underway ingame two. As usual, it is not on Sportsnet.