Blue Jays 7 at Orioles 4
The battery of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Reese McGuire powered the Jays to victory and a much needed divisional series win Sunday afternoon. The former went seven innings of one-run ball to limit the exposure to the soft underbelly of the bullpen, while the latter was hitting laser beams all over the field with three doubles among four hard his to speerhead a balanced 14-hit attack.
That said, the game didn’t get off to the best start as the Jays squandered multiple opportunities early against Matt Harvey. They stranded the bases loaded in the first, as well as two out doubles in each of the second and fourth innings. It didn’t help that home plate Jerry Meals punched out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on a 3-2 pitch at least four full inches outside in the 3rd (and doing it again to McGuire in the 5th for his only out of the day).
That thankfully ended in the 5th inning. McGuire led off smashing his second double of the day into the right field corner. Marcus Semien got into a Harvey fastball pretty good, but only to the warning track straightaway CF. It did move McGuire to third, which was important in what was a 1-0 game at the time, but Bo Bichette mooted that his own line drive single to not the score.
Vladdy swung and missed twice to fall behind 0-2, but battled for a nine pitch walk (amazing how one can do that when balls six inches off the plate are not called strikes). The next two pitches were the turning points in the game. First, Teoscar Hernandez rifled a line drive at 111 MPH into left-centre to cash Bichette and Guerrero. Randal Grichuk followed with a laser of his own for bring home Teoscar for the 4-1 lead. The Jays did miss an opportunity to further blow things open after loading the bases with a bloop single by Cavan Biggio and a walk from Santiago Espinal, but Meals took care of McGuire for the Orioles.
In any event, that seemed like t would be enough for Ryu. Just like the bats, it looked early like it might be a tough day for him too as his fastball was topping out in the high-80s and he was struggling to locate his offspeed. Neither of which are harbingers of good things, and indeed Trey Mancini took him yard to dead centre as the second batter of the game. That was followed b another hard single from Ryan Mountcastle, but Ryu got a double play to escape further damage.
Fortunately, Ryu found his form after the first couple innings. He gave up another hard single in the second, but that turned out to the last hit he gave up with the another other blemish a two out walk in the 5th. Initially, it was just mixing and matching offspeed pitches to induce weak contact (three grounders in the third inning), but in the last three innings his better velocity showed up and he was dialling up 91-92.
So Ryu did his usual thing and just put the game in cruise control going 7 innings on exactly 100 pitches, giving up the lone run on 3 hits and walk, with 4 strikeouts. It wasn’t dominant, but the Orioles couldn’t touch him.
The same was not true of Trent Thornton however, who came in for the 8th. His fourth pitch was a 92 MPH fastball over the plate, and Pedro Severino absolutely destroyed it with a laser beam to left field that likely landed in the stands before Thornton could turn his head around. In a flashback to yesterday, he then drilled Pat Valaika with a dangerous fastball that rode very high. The Orioles got even, as Mancini smashed another home run a batter later to cash and make it a three run inning.
Fortunately that did not cost the Jays the lead, as the bats had tacked on critical insurance runs on the top of the inning to make it 6-1. Once again, McGuire was right in the middle of it, smashing another double into the right field corner to cash Lourdes Gurriel who had led off the inning lofting his own double into the left field corner. Bichette in turned cashed McGuire with his single of the afternoon.
For good measure, McGuire added further insurance in the 9th, with yet another squared up line drive into right to cash Grichuk who singled leading off the inning. Though not decisive, it made the 9th much more palatable when Tyler Chatwood was summoned and immediately walked the first batter on four pitches. It was not exactly a white knuckle save in that the tying run never came to the plate, but he did not look the least bit impressive in nonetheless getting three straight groundouts to end the game.
Jays of the Day: Ryu (+0.251 WPA), McGuire (+0.142). Honourary mention to Grichuk (+0.90) for his two hit day, though three others joined him in that regard with another two reaching at least twice.
Suckage: Semien (-0.103) who went 0-for-6 and was the lone man not to reach. Thornton (-0.054 doesn’t have the number), but he gets one for steering a smoothing sailing affair into choppy waters.
Tomorrow, the Jays are off on the longest day of the year before they return to Florida to visit Miami at 7:05 ET and (hopefully) kick off the Summer of Springer™.