Angels 1 vs Blue Jays 4
The Blue Jays welcomed the Angels to the Rogers Centre, opening up a big series between the two teams. The Blue Jays entered play sitting in sole possession of the third Wild Card spot, 1.5 games up on the Red Sox. The Angels are in the hunt at 3.0 games back, and have indicated their intention to fight for the spot, making a couple trades to add to their team. One of the additions, Lucas Giolito, made his Angels debut on the mound for them in this one.
The Jays started the game with their big story being moving George Springer down in the order, his first start in anything but the leadoff spot since 2021. Springer came into the game mired in a 1 for 26 stretch, and was bumped down to the 5th spot in the batting order as Whit Merrifield got the start at the top of the order.
A particularly moist looking Kevin Gausman got the start for the Jays, and gave up his first run of the night pretty much right away. After a quick groundout to open the game, Gausman threw a fastball right down the middle to Shohei Ohtani on his first pitch, which Ohtani properly deposited into the visitor’s bullpen.
Matt Chapman had some words for manager John Schneider after the inning, picked up by the Apple TV cameras. Based on some rough lip reading, he essentially said “why would we pitch to him? He’s the only [redacted] guy on the team that can hit.” Chapman took that anger to the plate with him in the bottom of the second, tying things up with a solo home run, his 14th of the year.
The Jays took the lead in the third inning on Danny “Bambino” Jansen’s 14th home run of the season.
Meanwhile, Kevin Gausman had a very dominant outing on the mound. After the home run to Ohtani, he stranded a double in the 1st inning and a walk in the 2nd inning. He gave up a single in the 3rd inning, but Jansen erased it by catching his 6th attempted stealer of the season. Gausman allowed just one more single from the 4th through the 6th innings, striking out 9 batters through 6.
The Jays scored a single run in the 6th inning, but once again should have had more. Merrifield opened the inning with a single, promptly stole second and moved to third on the error on the play. Bo Bichette drove him in with a double over the head of the left fielder. After a Brandon Belt popout, the Angels intentionally walked Guerrero to pitch to the struggling Springer. Springer gifted them with a double play ball, but the shortstop bobbled it for the Angels’ second error of the inning to load the bases. But a passed ball was ignored by Bichette at third base, followed by a pair of strikeouts to Chapman and Daulton Varsho to end the threat.
Gausman ran into trouble in the 7th though, up over 90 pitches and showing signs of fatigue. A single and a pair of walks to open the inning ended his night, bequeathing a trio of runners upon Erik Swanson. Entering up 3-1 with the bases loaded, Swanson struck out the first two batters he faced before getting a lazy fly to right field to escape the threat.
Gausman’s final line for the night: 6.0+ innings, 1 run on 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 9.
Merrifield continued his hot streak, hitting a solo home run with 2 out in the 7th, his 8th of the season. He ended up going 3-4 out of the leadoff spot, and has probably bought himself a few more starts there.
Tim Mayza pitched the 8th inning, facing off against Ohtani to start it. He got the first two out, then gave up a pair of singles to make things interesting. But there was no reason to worry, as he got the backwards K to end the inning.
Jordan Romano came on for the 9th inning up 4-1, and ran into trouble of his own. Romano loaded the bases with 1 out for Ohtani’s spot in the order. But Ohtani was pulled, presumably with the same cramp that pulled him from yesterday’s game against the Tigers. Michael Stefanic pinch hit for Ohtani, as Romano was clearly fighting an injury of his own. After striking out Stefanic, Yimi García relieved Romano and took 2 pitches to get the lineout to end the game.
The bullpen did the job in this one, holding the Angels to some Blue Jays’ level production over the last few innings. The Angels’ batters ended up stranding the bases loaded in the 7th, stranding 2 in the 8th and then stranding the bases loaded again in the 9th.
But the Jays win, taking wins in 4 of their last 5.
Jays of the Day: Swanson (.351 WPA), Merrifield (.178 WPA) and Jano (.094).
Suckage Jays: None.
The Jays continue their big series against the Angels Saturday afternoon, this game on regular Sportsnet. First pitch is set for 3:07 ET, as the left handed Reid Detmers faces off against Alek Manoah.