The Jays came into today looking for their first series sweep of the year and to maintain their hold on second place in the AL East. It was a blustery day in Dunedin, with a stiff wind coming in from right field and knocking down any ball hit in that direction while carrying flies to left deeper than fielders expected.
Danny Jansen put the Jays on the board in the second, driving in Randal Grichuk with a line drive single. That snapped his hitless streak at a franchise record tieing 0 for 35. Over the past few games, it’s seemed like he was on the verge of breaking out of his slump, hitting some balls hard but right at defenders. It was good to see one finally fall in for him.
In the bottom of the third, Bo singled off the center field wall. It looked like he thought it was gone, but the wind knocked it down a bit. He should probably have been running hard, but it ended up not mattering. Guerrero followed with a walk, then, after Hernandez and Grichuk flied and struck out, Semien cashed in the two base-runners with a line drive double to left. Guerrero wouldn’t have scored from first on most left fielders, but Marcell Ozuna has an overcooked strand of vermicelli for an arm, so he made it without a play at the plate.
Jansen hit a ground ball single in the fourth, meaning that he managed to double his season hit total in the first half of today’s game. Bichette drove him with a double to the right field gap.
After three quiet innings, Marcus Semien added some insurance with a two run shot in the eighth. Lourdes Gurriel jr. followed with a double, and Joe Panik (who had pinch hit for Springer in the sixth) drove him in with a double of his own.
George Springer was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. He came out of the game in the sixth, but didn’t look to have injured himself. Hopefully it was just a precautionary move
Joe Panik pinch hit and went 1 for 2 with a double
Bo Bichette was 2 for 5 with one double and probably should have had two.
Vladimir Guerrero jr. was 0 for 3 with a walk
Teoscar Hernandez was 1 for 4
Randal Grichuk was 2 for 4, including a single on a teriffic 11 pitch at bat to open the seventh
Marcus Semien went 2 for 4, including a double and the only home run hit by either team
Lourdes Gurriel jr. was 1 for 4 with a double
Cavan Biggio was 0 for 3 with a walk and a couple of strike outs
Danny Jansen was 2 for 3 with a walk. His wRC+ for the season rockets up from -37 to -11
The Blue Jays’ bats really came alive this series, scoring 26 runs over the three games. It was a team effort today, with 9 different batters reaching base. They’ve been lucky that the pitching has floated the team through the first month of the season, but this is a team that’s going to have to score a lot of runs to win in the long term, so it’s good to see things starting to come together on the offensive side of the ball.
On the mound, Ross Stripling cruised through his first four innings, allowing one run (which probably should have been unearned) on three hits while striking out four. He got into a jam early in the fifth, though, giving up a sharp single to Austin Riley and walking catcher William Contreras. Christian Pache laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases and Ronald Acuna jr. missed a grand slam by about four feet but scored Riley on the deep sac fly. That was the end of Stripling’s night. He looked pretty good in his first appearance off the IL, sitting mostly 91 but touching 94 and locating some beautiful change-ups.
Ryan Borucki came in to face Freeman and Ozuna, two of the three best hitters in the National League a year ago, and sat both down on three pitches each. It was an impressive bounce back from his rough outing on Friday, with his fastball sitting 97 and both his fastball and slider landing where he wanted them. He came back for the sixth and worked a clean inning, sandwiching a strikeout between a pair of groundouts.
Tyler Chatwood worked the seventh, giving up a ground ball single but then inducing a double play and striking out Pache.
David Phelps faced the top of the order in the eighth. He gave up a hard single to Ozuna, but struck out Acuna, Freeman and Albies.
With the extra runs the Jays scored in the bottom of the eighth, it was no longer a save situation. Joel Payamps came in to try to close it out. He managed to get two outs, but also gave up two singles and hit a batter to load the bases. Rafael Dolis came in and struck out Acuna for the one out save.
It was another impressive performance for the Jays’ pitching staff, and especially the bullpen. With the exception of Payamps, the relievers more or less dominated the Braves’ hitters.
Bo Bichette’s throwing continues to be a problem. He made a bad throw in the second that put the runner who became the Braves’ first run on the board. It was ruled a hit, but only because Guerrero made a great jumping catch to keep the ball from flying into the stands. He made another bad throw in the sixth, this time being charged with the error, but the play was erased when Ozzie Albies made the turn towards second and got caught in a rundown. It looked like Albies thought he was out at the bag and turned to jog back to the dugout before realizing the play was live.
Jays of the Day: Borucki (0.180), Semien (0.192), and Jansen (0.142). Bo had the number (0.172) but that doesn’t account for his fielding problems, which cost the Jays a run and could have done more.
The Jays travel to Oakland next for a four game set. Steven Matz will pitch the opener for the Jays, while the A’s have yet to announce a starter. First pitch is 9:40ET tomorrow night.