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Jays lose to Angels, End Homestand on a Down Note

MLB: Game One-Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

That was a grind. Neither pitching staff had it this afternoon, but the Angels were able to capitalize on their opportunities while the Jays mostly didn’t. 6 runs on 15 base-runners for the Angels (8 hits, 5 walks, two reached on errors), 3 runs on 12 base-runners (9 hits, 3 walks) for the Jays. Bad pitching, bad defense, and bad luck combined to sink the Jays, with an assist from an unusually elastic strike zone that went the LA’s way more often than Toronto’s.

David Fletcher led off with a soft line drive single that Vlad got the tip of his glove on but couldn’t have caught. Shohei Ohtani grounded to second. It should have been at least one out, but Semien looked like he was hurrying to try to beat Ohtani and made a bad flip to second, allowing both runners to reach. Fletcher then stole third. Matz battled back to strike out Phil Gosselin, then got another grounder to second from Jose Iglesias. This time Semien didn’t miss and the Jays turned the double play to end the inning.

George Springer grounded out to start the bottom of the first. Vladimir Guerrero struck out, continuing to look a little anxious at the plate as he works through his first real slump of the season. Semien flipped a Texas leaguer over the second baseman’s head then stole second. Bichette hit a hard grounder just to the shortstop side of second, but Iglesias made a great play running to his left to field the ball and throw him out at first.

The Angels threatened again in the second. Matz started strong, fielding a comebacker from Justin Upton and whiffing Jo Adell. Max Stassi slapped a ground ball single against the shift, then Matz walked Juan Lagares (with an assist from home plate ump Jerry Meals) to put a man in scoring position. He bounced back, though, getting a pop up from Jack Mayfield.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Jays managed to get a runner in scoring position on the strength of a Teoscar Hernandez line drive single and a Breyvic Valera infield hit, but a strikeout by Dickerson and ground outs from Grichuk and McGuire prevented them from cashing in.

The Angels broke through in the top of the 3rd. Matz got Fletcher and Ohtani with a ground out and a strikeout, respectively. The hits started falling in at that point, though. Gosselin lined a single, then Iglesias hit a ground ball double right over the third base bag. Upton cashed in both on a seeing-eye grounder between Valera and Bichette to put LA up two to nothing. Matz sat Adell down again to end the inning.

The Jays gained some ground back. Springer worked a leadoff walk and Semien cashed him in with a double to the gap in left-centre. Guerrero, Semien, and Hernandez all flied out.

Matz had some trouble with the umpires in the fourth, but avoided any damage. He struck out Stassi then walked Lagares on four pitches, at least one of which was clearly a strike. To add insult to injury, a balk was called when he stopped momentarily setting up his delivery. He induced Mayfield to pop out behind first, though, then fielded a comebacker from Fletcher to get out of it.

The Jays blew a great opportunity in the fourth. After a Dickerson leadoff pop out, Grichuk lined a single to right. Breyvic Valera did something I don’t think I’ve seen before, taking a step up in the box during Rodriguez’s windup to get onto the sinker, and hit it through the hole for a single. I’ve heard of players standing up in the box to catch breaking balls before they drop, but I’ve never seen a hitter do it during the pitcher’s delivery. McGuire followed that up with a walk to load the bases with only one out, but Springer chopped a room service double play ball to third. You can’t ask for a better situation than your hottest hitter up with the bases loaded, and it really hurts to come away from that with nothing.

The wheels came off in the top of the fifth. It started well, with a fly out from Ohtani and another weak grounder back to the mound that Matz fielded for the second out. He followed that by walking Matz, though. Upton hit a soft fly down the third base line that Dickerson couldn’t get to. With Matz nearing 100 pitches, Montoyo brought in Trent Thornton to face Adell, who popped it up right to Guerrero at first. It looked like a routine play, but Vlad lost it in the sun, missed it, and then was slow trying to run the ball down, allowing both runners to score. Thornton got Stassi to ground out, but after the anticlimax of the last inning, giving up two runs like that was pretty painful. Matz ended up going 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and 3 walks, striking out 5. A combination of shaky command and a lot of balls falling produced a pretty ugly line, although the Angels hardly squared him up and only managed one extra base hit.

Austin Warren pitched the fifth for LA. Rodriguez’s final line was 4.0 innings, 1 run on 6 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. It’s frustrating to get 8 guys on in 4 innings and only score one. Guerrero started things off, looking overeager to make up for his mistake, and struck out on three pitches. Marcus Semien stayed hot, doubling off the fence of the Blue Jays bullpen in left field. Bichette popped up to the same spot Adell had, but Gosselin was able to track this one for the second out. Hernandez singled through the hole to score Semien and make it 4-2, then Dickerson tripled on a fly ball misplayed by Upton to score Hernandez and make it 4-3. Grichuk struck out to bring the rally to an end short of tying up the game.

Thornton ran into more bad luck and bad fielding in the sixth. Lagares went down to get a good curveball off the plate and managed to flick it into left for a single, then Mayfield chopped one to third that Valera should have just thrown to first. Instead, he tried to get Lagares at second and both runners ended up safe. Thornton got Fletcher to hit another grounder, though, and this time the Jays turned the double play. Montoyo intentionally walked Ohtani, then brought in Dolis to face Gosselin. It backfired, as Charlie’s decisions are wont to do, with Ohtani stealing second and Gosselin lining a two run single. Iglesias walked, but Upton flied out to end the inning.

Valera lead off the sixth, facing Javy Guerra, and grounded out. McGuire walked, but Springer hit his second double play ball in a row to snuff out any potential rally.

Taylor Saucedo pitched the seventh for the Jays. He struck out Adell, then got easy grounders to third from Stassi and Lagares. It was the first clean inning of the ballgame for either team.

Raisel Iglesias came in to complete the save for the Angels. He started by striking out Guerrero for the third time in the game. Vlad really had a rough time all around in this one, although in this at bat he was the victim of a called strike on a fastball several inches off the plate. Semien hit a liner to left, but it hung up for Upton to catch. Bichette mirrored Guerrero, falling behind on a called strike that wasn’t really close, then chasing a similar pitch and missing.

Jays of the Day: Semien had the high number (0.200) and also half the total extra base hits in the game, so his award is well deserved.

Suckage: Springer, Guerrero, and Bichette all had the number, and deserved it. Thornton also qualifies, but I don’t think he was really responsible for most of what went wrong while he was on the mound.

EMK19 lead a valiant but losing effort:

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1 EMK19 66
2 DangYouToHeck 37
3 delv213 37
4 BlueJaysBlues 31
5 radivel 26
6 Mccune 24
7 Junior Felix, Jr. 19
8 not-stressed 19
9 gammaDraconis 17
10 FrankDrakman 17
11 HeyBoyBlueisBack 16
12 yyzcalifornia 14
13 Siefert 13
14 Kevin D 12
15 fishedin 12

The Blue Jays travel from their current home in Anaheim to kick off their west coast road trip in Anaheim. That game is scheduled to start at 10:07 ET tonight.