Dalbec 3 at Blue Jays 6
Boom, boom, boom, boom
Jays want the wild card in their room
Let’s spend October together
From now until November
Boom, boom, boom, boom
After falling behind early Sunday, the bats came out once again in force to lead a series sweep of Boston by an aggregate 25-3 and take the season series by a franchise record 16-3 margin. And for as much fun as pummeling the Sox is in-and-of-itself, most importantly it ensured they maintain the lead for home field in wild card round regardless of what happens elsewhere.
Kevin Gausman lasted only 3 innings, coming out early due a cut or blister on his finger which emerged as an issue after a lengthy 2nd inning. Hopefully nothing major, and precaution was certainly warranted as his next start will be much higher stakes whereever it may occur.
It also explains why after an easy first inning, Gausman was not nearly as sharp in the 2nd and 3rd innings. He allowed two runs after a couple hard line drives put runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out. It took 10 pitches to set down Yu Chang on strikes, allowing the opportunity to strand the runners, but Bobby Dalbec dumped a single into centre to make it 2-0.
That put the Jays in a hole against Michael Wacha, one of few effective Red Sox starters in 2022. The normal turn-of-phrase would be the say the bats started chipping away, but it’s more accurate to say they started blasting away. Starting with a mammoth shot from Teoscar Hernandez in the 2nd:
Whit Merrifield continued his stretch of tearing the cover off the ball, tying the game with a shot of his own to start the 3rd:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. worked a 10 pitch walk to open the 4th inning, to bring Teoscar back up. He hammered another ball, this one not quite as far but more of a laser beam that just stayed fair off the left field foul pole:
The Sox pen had better luck, largely holding the Jays in check. The fifth inning turned around quickly after George Springer led off with a single was initially called safe on a truly bang-bang steal of second that was overturned on review thanks to a nearly flawless throw by Connor Wong. On the next pitch Bo Bichette struck out, and that took the wind out of the Jays sails.
They did add one more run in the 7th, this one of the manufactured variety and once again catalyzed by Merrifield. He blooped a double down the line, advanced to third on a groundout, and then broke for home on contact on a ground ball by Springer, just getting in under the tag.
Fortunately, the bullpen was able to take things home, though the last six innings were not without their interesting and hold-your-breath moments.
First up was Zach Pop, who was not only in form but fantastic. He worked on easy 4th inning with three groundouts, the best hit of which he snared on a nifty behind the back stab. He was even more dominant in the 5th, as he should have struck out the side on 10 pitches but Kike Hernandez wasn’t punched out on a check swing. Instead he had to settle for retiring him on another nice snare at the mound.
Given that he had only thrown 22 pitches, how effective he was and how inconsistent he is outing-to-outing, I’d have seriously considered sending him out for another inning. Instead, John Schneider turned instead to Adam Cimber. he worked a shutout inning, thiough not without a little drama as J.D. Martinez smashed a two out single and then Christian Arroyo lined a ball sharply back up the box that went off Cimber.
Anthony Bass got the 7th, and immediately benefited from a nice defensive play as a ground ball kicked off Bichette but right to Merrifield whose throw just nipped Yu Chang. That was quite fortuitous, as Bobby Dalbec destroyed the very next pitch for a no doubter that drew the Red Sox within two instead of one at 5-3.
Neither could Yimi Garcia escape some drama in the 8th inning. Triston Casas led off by smashing a ball to dead centre, Jackie Bradley Jr. appearing to make a shoestring catch. Second base umpire Andy Fletcher ruled out, but first base umpire Doug Eddings said safe. I initially didn’t think it really mattered since whichever way they went the other side was going to challenge and there should have been a definitive answer, but the replay was apparently inconclusive and the ultimate ruling of safe stood.
Peu importe. Tommy Pham hit a 2-0 sinker pretty sharply, but right at Matt Chapman which is about a surefire double play as they come. Jordan Romano nailed down the save in the 9th, though once again with a hold-your-breath moment on a ground ball to first where Vladdy failed to feed Romano and he had an awkward slide.
Winning pitcher: Zach Pop— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) October 2, 2022
Save: Jordan Romano
First time in #BlueJays history the win & save have gone to Canadian-born players
Jays of the Day: Teoscar (+.299), Merrifield (+.230), and Pop (+.102)
Suckage: None. Gausman (-.081) and Bichette (-.080) came close with down days, but that’s going to happen when you’ve been carrying the team like they have been down the stretch.
Tomorrow, the Jays travel to Baltimore to close the season and attempt to maintain their lead for home field advantage in the wild card round with Jose Berrios against Dean Kremer at 7:05 EDT. The Jays could really use some length from Berrios to spare the pen in advance of what will be a couple of likely heavy days on Tuesday and Wednesday.