After clinching a postseason berth yesterday for the first time since 2016, the Blue Jays clinched their first finish above .500 since the same year tonight in cruising their 31st win as the Orioles limp to the finish. The final score of 10-5 belies how easy a win it really was, as the Jays jumped out to a six run lead in the second, extended it to 10 by the fourth and ran the Orioles out of outs.
Taijuan Walker got the start, and threw three perfect innings with four strikeouts before departing after 40 pitches. The game was already well in hand by that point, and leaves him well rested for next week’s playoff start — perhaps even flip-flopping with Hyun Jin Ryu so he’s on an extra day of rest in game 2? It may at least give them the option.
Meanwhile, the bats were providing the fireworks. Randal Grichuk continued to torch the O’s (their co-owner with Peter Angelos, in one of Wilner’s better quips) with a home run leading off the bottom of the second, but that was just the beginning. The Jays loaded the bases with one out on a walk, HBP and single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. torched at 115.5 MPH off the bat. Danny Jansen smashed a single to make it 2-0, Jonathan Villar hit a sac fly and then Bo Bichette snuch a single through for a four run lead. After a wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position, Teoscar Hernandez cashed both with a single for the six spot.
They tacked on two more in the 3rd, with four straight singles to open the inning, though Travis Shaw was thrown out the plate. Villar picked things up with a two out single (and also made a spectacular play in the field). Two more came in the 4th on a two run shot by Shaw to drive in Grichuk. Shaw added a double to pace the lineup with three hits.
Nate Pearson came in for the fourth, bringing the triple digit heat heat in his first appearance in six weeks. After getting the first two batters and throwing the hardest recorded pitch in Blue Jays history at 101.5 MPH, he allowed a single and walk before getting out of it. He got the first two batters of the 5th, before presumably hitting a predetermined pith count as there was no other reason.
Shun Yamaguchi came in to theoretically eat some innings and keep the bullpen fresh, but that went about as well as it did for Wilmer Font earlier this week. The first two batters took him deep before he got out of the inning, but gave up another leading off the 6th. A hard groundout to first and then a smoked single was the end of the night. Ryan Borucki did allow the inherited runner to score on a double, but prevented things from spiraling out of control.
Thomas Hatch was the guy to make sure the Orioles wouldn’t get new life, retiring the first five batters he faced on a handful of pitches before walking Ryan Mountcastle but getting out of the inning. At just 18 pitches, he probably could have finished things up, but the Jays wanted another look at Patrick Murphy who allowed back-to-back singles to start the inning before three straight groundouts to end the game.
Jays of the Day: With an evenly distributed attack and early blowout, there was limited opportunity for inidividuals to hit the number. Walker’s early zeroes (+0.124 WPA) got him there, and Grichuk (+0.095) essentally did too. Honourable mention to any number of Jays, including Villar, Bichette, Vladdy, Shaw (not too often one ends up -0.011 with a 3⁄4 night and two extra base hits), Davis, Pearson and Hatch.
Suckage: None by the numbers, but you don’t give up three home runs in six batters faced and avoid ignominy in my books, so Yamaguchi.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to cobble together another win with Matt Shoemaker taking the mound against John Means at 6:37 EDT in what will hopefully be the last Blue Jays broadcast blacked out by hockey (unless the it goes to seven games). Can the Jays run down the Yankees for second? Objectively, it’s probably better for the Rays, but for as-yet-undisclosed selfish reasons, I’m hoping not.