Ross Stripling, who was acquired from the Dodgers at the trade deadline this Monday, made his debut for the Blue Jays in Fenway Park today in the second game of the doubleheader.
Stripling had a 1-2-3 first inning but was shaky in the next two frames, giving up some really good contact to Boston hitters especially on fat fastballs, including some that were scorched foul. The Red Sox were the first to get on the board on a Tzu-Wei Lin ground-rule double to the triangle in centrefield with a couple men on base—if the ball didn’t bounce out of play Lin would’ve gotten two RBI from that shot. They tacked on another run in the third on a Michael Chavis single to centre.
Stripling’s pitch count was elevated through the third but a quick three up three down fourth inning, with him showing off a really nice slider and changeup, allowed him to pitch into the fifth. After allowing a double to Yairo Muñoz and walking Rafael Devers, manager Charlie Montoyo came out to yank Stripling at 81 pitches. He ended up throwing 4.1 innings, giving up three runs—two earned—on six hits, striking out four and walking two. He pitched well enough for a swing-man type.
The Blue Jays, wearing their powder blues, batted in the bottom half of innings in the second half of this unusual doubleheader despite the Red Sox wearing their home whites and the game being officially recognized—at least in the stats books—as an away game for Toronto. The Fenway Park staff did honour Toronto by playing “OK Blue Jays” in the middle of the fifth inning as well as an assortment of Canadian artists between other innings.
Rowdy Tellez, who loves hitting at Fenway Park, helped get the Blue Jays in flight with an opposite-field high-arcing home run to the corner of the Green Monster against Red Sox starter Chris Mazza, who otherwise cruised through his third major league start. Mazza finished four innings allowing a run on three hits, walking one and striking out two Jays.
Boston’s third run (which will prove to be the difference in the game) came on an error to catcher Reese McGuire, who made a terrible decision trying to pickoff a runner from second and then a terrible throw to second base, which ended up in centre field. Like many other times this year, we see McGuire attempting his throws off-balanced from his knees. With both Caleb Joseph and Alejandro Kirk on the taxi squad—but not on the 40-man roster—one wonders how much longer McGuire will be on the big league roster. He hasn’t hit at all and has not brought a lot of positive value from behind the plate either.
Sean Reid-Foley, who was the 29th man for the doubleheader, relieved Stripling. Reid-Foley had a good day, throwing 1.2 innings of no-hit ball, striking out the side in the sixth.
The Blue Jays rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning against rookie Robinson Leyer, who only debuted on Monday. Leyer wasn’t able to command his slider, reaching a three-ball count on everyone except the last batter of the inning (except ball three to leadoff hitter Cavan Biggio was incorrectly called strike three). Randal Grichuk doubled, Tellez walked, but Leyer struck out Teoscar Hernández. Santiago Espinal, who pinch ran for Tellez, was almost thrown out on a pickoff attempt when he strayed too far from first base—he got back safely, but it is just another example of Toronto’s recent troubles on the basepaths. Newbie Jonathan Villar singled home Grichuk, then Lourdes Grurriel Jr. walked.
Leyer, who was obviously shaky at this point, faced Derek Fisher with the bases loaded when Montoyo decided against bringing in Vladimir Guerrero to pinch hit for an inexplicable reason. Joe Panik, who has been looking better at the plate lately, could have also come in for Fisher but didn’t. That decision did not work out well as Fisher struck out on four pitches to end the inning. Frankly, I don’t understand how Montoyo thinks.
Charlie Montoyo says that they stuck with Derek Fisher with the bases loaded in the 6th instead of pinch-hitting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. because they liked the matchup for Fisher and thought he had a chance to hit a home run today... #BlueJays— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) September 5, 2020
After Wilmer Font held off the Red Sox from scoring, Travis Shaw started the bottom of the seventh with an infield single and Guerrero came in to pinch hit for McGuire but immediately grounded into a double play. Matt Barnes would then strike out Biggio to get the save and prevent the Blue Jays from walking off at Fenway.
Poor decisions from McGuire and Montoyo contributed to the loss, but of course it is not fair to lump it all on them as the lineup didn’t do much against Mazza earlier in the game. The Blue Jays’ three-game winning streak has come to an end but they will have a chance to start a new one tomorrow as TBA starts against, uh, TBA. This is the Blue Jays’ first five-game series since July 2002, which resulted in Toronto dropping all five against Boston at Fenway Park. So, at 2-1 so far, at least this has been better.
Jays of the Day! Rowdy Tellez (+.182 WPA), Jonathan Villar (+.098)
Suckage Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (−.301 WPA), Derek Fisher (−.216), Teoscar Hernandez (−.170)
Make plans for Saturday afternoon—the Blue Jays and Red Sox won’t play game three of this series until 7:30 pm EDT, an hour after the Raptors and Celtics are set to tipoff game four of their postseason series.