Blue Jays 2 Rangers 4
Here’s a game whose turning point seemed to come in the first inning. George Springer started the game with a single but was erased by a Whit Merrifield double-play ball (often double-play balls are hard-hit grounders, but this one wasn’t. Pitch inside, off the plate, Whit got it off the handle and bounced it straight to second, for a 4-3 double play). Bo Bichette followed with a double off the wall in right-center. Then Vladimir Guerrero drove a grounder hard into left (108 mph), scoring Bo, with Vlad going to second on the throw home.
Then Daulton Varsho singled to right. Vlad didn’t get the best jump off second and should have been stopped at third. He wasn’t. Vlad a) isn’t fast. b) took a rounded turn at third, and c) started his slide too early. Way too early, it could have been a close play if he started his slide a step later.
I’m generally ok with sending the runner with two outs. It did take a good throw to get Vlad. But Dane Dunning was having a tough inning, I would have liked the chance to run up the score a bit.
But then maybe the turning point was Whit’s double-play ball?
And Dunning pitched better after the first inning, going 6, allowing just 2 hits after the first, and one more run, a Daulton Varsho homer.
We did have a shot at getting back into it in the ninth.
Vlad started the inning with a line drive single to left (another hard-hit ball, 105 mph). John Schnieder decided to pinch-hit for Varsho with Alejandro Kirk. I wasn’t a fan of the move. Daulton has been looking good at the plate lately and had the home run today. Kirk, I’d have saved for later in the inning.
Kirk did line one hard to left (100 mph) but into the left fielder’s glove.
Matt Chapman followed with a single, putting the tying run on. But Danny Jansen flew out to center. And Santiago Espinal pinch-hit for Cavan Biggio. Espinal is hitting .207. He’s not someone I want pinch-hitting. That’s where I’d like Kirk to have come in. Espinal struck out.
This isn’t why we lost, but I’d like my manager to look at who is hitting that inning and pick who I’d want my one decent pinch-hitter to go in for.
We had 9 hits (3 times as many as yesterday). Springer, Vlad and Varsho had two. Vlad also had a 14-pitch (!) walk.
The bottom of the lineup, Jansen, Biggio and Kiermaier, had 0 fors going 0 for 10 between them.
On the pitching side, we only used 4 pitchers on the bullpen day:
- Trevor Richards threw three innings. He had troubles in the second, giving up back-to-back homers, changing our 1-run lead to a 2-run deficit. Other than that, he was good. It looked like he had given up another homer, but it was called foul on a challenge.
- Bowden Francis threw 2.2 scoreless innings. He was helped out by an amazing catch by Kiermaier.
Just a routine Kevin Kiermaier catch. pic.twitter.com/sXKZZqfzya— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 17, 2023
- Yimi Garcia got the last out of the sixth for Francis. He had a tough time in the seventh. After a strikeout, he gave up a Corey Seager home run. And then two singles.
- Adam Cimber got out of the inning on a nicely turned double play. In the eighth, Bo, who looked frustrated with his at-bat in the top of the inning, made his third error in his last 9 games. They come in bunches for him, but his play has been much better at short this year. Danny Jansen erased the runner with a caught stealing on a pinch out to end the inning.
On the plus side, there was a lot of good defense from the Jays. And we were 2-4 with RISP today. Add in that Vlad had a couple of hard-hit singles (and that 14-pitch walk). Varsho looked good at the plate too.
I wish we could see into the alternative universe where Rivera doesn’t send Vlad in the first inning. Likely it would have worked out much the same, but who knows? Of course, I’d also like to see what would have happened if Varsho got to hit in the ninth.
Jays of the Day: Vlad (.171 WPA) and Francis (.148, mostly due to his defense, but I don’t think he’s had a JoD before, so I’m giving him this one).
The Other Award: Richards (-.232), Jansen (-.141), Merrifield (-.119) and Garcia (-.092).
Tomorrow we have a 2:30 Eastern start. Chris Bassitt (7-5, 4.02) vs. Jon Gray (6-2, 2.32).
The Guerrero walk: