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Jays Beat Angels, Start Roadtrip off on a High Note

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

That was a bit more like it. This game turned into an unexpected pitching duel. Jose Suarez mostly held the Jays’ offense at bay into the sixth inning. On the Jays side, Ross Stripling had to leave early with ‘left abdominal discomfort’, but pitched well through two innings, and pre-deadling acquisitions Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards provided excellent backup. They’ve both been very good since coming over, and have quickly become two of the guys I trust the most in close situations. The offense again put 12 men on base with 9 hits and 3 walks, but thist time were able to string things together a little better.

Springer started the nightcap off right, lining a Jose Suarez change-up over left fielder Juan Lagares’ head for a double. Vlad Guerrero jr. flipped a pop up into shallow centre-right field against the shift for a single and Springer read it perfectly to score from second and put the Jays in front early. Marcus Semien walked to push Guerrero to second, and after a Bo Bichette fly out, Teoscar Hernandez dropped a pop up in almost exactly the same place Vlad had, and like Springer, Vlad read it perfectly in spite of Adam Eaton’s attempt to decoy him and scored. Alejandro Kirk grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Shohei Ohtani struck back to lead things off for the Angels, lining a Ross Stripling change over Guerrero’s head for a triple. David Fletcher and Phil Gosselin lined out sharply, but Stripling got Adam Eaton to pop out to end the inning and prevent Ohtani from coming in to score.

The top of the second was less eventful. Lourdes Gurriel jr. and Randal Grichuk grounded out and Santiago Espinal popped out.

The Angels got another runner to third in the bottom of the second. After a Jose Iglesias fly out to start the inning, Brandon Marsh walked, stole second, and advanced to third on a fly out from Juan Lagares. Stripling escaped again, though, getting a soft fly out from Kurt Suzuki.

The Jays went quietly again in the top of the third. Springer and Guerrero grounded out and Semien popped it up.

Trevor Richards replaced Stripling for the third. Stripling didn’t appear to have been in pain at the end of the second, but apparently had some abdominal discomfort and had to come out of the game after only 27 pitches. Bichette helped out his new pitcher, making a great diving stab and throw on a Jack Mayfield ground ball. Ohtani also grounded out and Fletcher popped up to wrap up the inning.

The Jays at least managed a base runner in the fourth thanks to a line drive single from Kirk, but Bichette, Teoscar, and Gurriel all grounded out.

Richards came back out for the bottom of the fourth. He sandwiched a walk to Adam Eaton and an Iglesias fly out between strikeouts of Gosselin and Marsh.

The top of the fifth was much like the fourth. Santiago Espinal lined a single to left, but Grichuk flied out to the wall in centre and Springer and Guerrero struck out.

Adam Cimber was brought in to handle the fifth. He started out performing his usual soft-contact act, getting weak ground outs from Lagares and Suzuki. His first pitch to number 9 hitter Mayfield hit him in the legs, though, forcing him to face Ohtani as the tying run. He rallied to strike out Ohtani on three pitches, though, in an at bat that looked very uncomfortable.

The Jays bats woke up a bit in the sixth. After a Semien fly out, Bichette and Hernandez slashed back to back singles. That was the end of Suarez’s night. Joe Maddon brought in Jose Quijada to face Kirk, who walked on four pitches to load the bases. Gurriel lined a bullet past short for a single, scoring two. Grichuk popped out to first for the second out and Espinal grounded out for the third, but the Jays managed to double their lead to 4-0.

Cimber breezed through the sixth, getting ground outs form Fletcher and Gosselin (the latter thanks to a great stop from Espinal) and a pop out from Eaton.

Mike Mayers tried to keep it in range for LA in the seventh. He got Springer to fly out to the track in left centre and struck out Guerrero. Semien worked his second walk of the night and Bichette singled to left to put a man in scoring position, but Hernandez grounded out to end the threat.

Montoyo tried to play it safe, sending Jordan Roman out to finish the game in spite of the Jays’ four run lead. He knocked Iglesias down with a fastball up and in, then jammed him with one a little lower to get a grounder back to the mound. Marsh singled on a slider hung over the middle of the plate, Iglesias was blown away with fastballs at the top of the zone, and Suzuki hit another hung slider before Mayfield worked a walk to load the bases. Ohtani came to the plate representing the tieing run. It was a more dramatic finish than anyone on the Jays side wanted, but Romano was up to the challenge, beating Ohtani with a fastball in on the hands to strike him out and end the game.

Jays of the Day: Stripling (0.119), Richards (0.143) and Cimber (0.1112) all had the number, and all were very good. None of the hitters made it.

Suckage: Bo Bichette had the low WPA (-0.052), but he had two hits and some nice defensive plays, so it doesn’t seem fair to come down on him. I’ll say no one gets the award tonight.

Rhinos led those of us who stayed awake to victory.

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The Jays will try to take the lead in the series tomorrow night before Thursday’s Berrios-Ohtani showdown. Alec Manoah will face Dylan Bundy tomorrow at 9:38PM ET