The Jays completed the sweep this afternoon in front of a shockingly sparse and almost entirely blue-clad crowd for a holiday weekend game. It hasn’t been a great series, with three games in a row where the offence hasn’t quite been able to catch fire, but the pitching has been very good and it hasn’t mostly felt like the outcome was in much doubt.
This was a frustrating one for the offence much like Friday was, with the Jays racking up nine hits, five walks, and a hit by pitch, but only scoring four while Ross Stripling gave up three runs on only six base runners. It’s good that they’re getting on a lot against mediocre pitching, but their performance with runners in scoring position really needs to come around sooner than later.
J.T. Brubaker got he start for the Pirates. The Jays’ offence chipped away at him pretty consistently but couldn’t blow it open. In the second inning, Bo Bichette worked a leadoff walk (the zone was small today for both pitchers) and advanced to second when Brubaker hit Cavan Biggio. Lourdes Gurriel jr grounded into a fielder’s choice that advanced Bo to third, and Whit Merrifield cashed him in on a hard hit ground ball single that ate up Oneil Cruz at short. In the third, Vladimir Guerrero jr. reached on a throwing error, stole second, and came around to score on an Alejandro Kirk line single. Finally, in the fourth, Cavan Biggio hit a towering solo homer to right field to make it 3-0. Brubaker regained control at that point, retiring the next seven batters in order.
The Jays were able to threaten again in the sixth. Bichette reached on a one out line single, and Cavan Biggio followed by working a walk. That knocked Brubaker out of the game. Facing reliever Chase De Jong, Gurriel worked a walk to load the bases but Whit Merrifield grounded into a double play.
Duane Underwood jr came in to work the seventh for the Pirates. Danny Jansen led off with a single, and advanced to second on another single by Matt Chapman. Guerrero hit into a double play, but that did move Jansen over to third, allowing him to come in to score the go ahead run on a Teoscar Hernandez single up the middle. Kirk added the Jays’ fourth hit of the inning with a single lined to right, but Jack Suwinski made an amazing diving catch to rob Bichette of a double, ending the inning and taking at least two runs off the board.
Wil Crowe started the eighth. He struck out Biggio and Gurriel, but walked Jackie Bradley jr (who came in defensively for Merrifield in the seventh) and Jansen. Chapman hit a ball hard but right at the first baseman for the third out.
With the Pirates still down one in the ninth, they turned to Yohan Ramirez to keep it close. He have up a deep fly to Vlad, but it fell short for an out, and then he struck out Hernandez and got Kirk to ground out.
Ross Stripling cruised through the first three and a third innings. He issued a walk in the first, to Rodolfo Castro, and hit Tyler Heineman in the third, but struck out five and didn’t give up much in the way of solid contact. His command slipped a bit at that point, though, and Pittsburgh was able to take advantage. He walked Ben Gamel with one out in the fourth, got a fly out from Suwinski, but then walked Cal Mitchell to put two men on. Josh VanMeter lofted a fly into the left field gap that Gurriel couldn’t quite get to for a two run double to make it 3-2. The pirates would tie it up with one out in the fifth on an Oneil Cruz solo shot to left centre field. Stripling rallied in the sixth, picking up his seventh and eight strikeouts of the afternoon. Overall, you’d have to say he was fine. Two hits, three walks and a hit batter over six innings is quite good, but all his mistakes happened at the same time, allowing those six base runners to turn into three runs.
David Phelps relieved Stripling in the seventh. He got VanMeter and Marcano to fly out and pop out, but gave up a liner to Heineman that Hernandez bobbled in the right field corner. It was scored a double, but I would have had it as a single and an error on Teoscar, if he fields it cleanly he would have easily held a catcher to a single there. It didn’t end up mattering, as Phelps got Cruz to ground out.
The eighth belonged to Anthony Bass. He struck out Brian Reynolds and Castro, and got Gamel to ground out.
Jordan Romano came in for the save with the Jays still up 4-3. He gave up a ground ball single against the shift to Suwinski, and then was hit by a comebacker from Mitchell that bounced into centre field, moving Suwinski to third and putting the winning run on. Luckily, he was able to knuckle down and strike out VanMeter, Marcano, and Kevin Newman (pinch hitting for Heineman) in order to end it.
Jays of the Day: Phelps (0.108), Bass (0.141), Romano (0.200), Hernandez (0.144), Biggio (0.172)
Suckage: Guerrero (-0.178), Merrifield (-0.154)
The Blue Jays travel to Baltiore tomorrow for a double header. Kevin Gausman will take the hill in game 1, scheduled for 1:05ET, and Jose Berríos will follow. The Orioles’ starters have not been announced.