Tuesday, September 25, 2018

#158 - Houston Astros (99-57) at Toronto Blue Jays (71-86)



Tuesday, September 25, 2018 | 7:07 pm
Skydome | Toronto, ON

Josh James (1-0, 2.81, 1.00) vs. Sam Gaviglio (3-8, 5.18, 1.42)


PREAMBLE:

After losing game 1 of the series to the Astros and having to face Roberto Osuna in the 9th inning, the Blue Jays are looking to get back on the winning track and stop the Astros from celebrating their 100th win on our turf and potentially a division clinch as well.

Sam Gaviglio takes his gaudy (at least by his overall standards) home-field numbers to the mound as he faces Josh James, making his third big-league start.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Game #157 Houston Astros (99-57) @ Toronto Blue Jays (71-86) - game recap

Jose Altuve was 2-5 with a RBI and a run scored as the Astros defeated the Blue Jays 5-3

The MLB schedule makers saved the best for last for Blue Jays fans. This series has so many intriguing pieces. The Gurriel brothers face off in Toronto. Roberto Osuna pitches in Toronto for the first time since being arrested. Ken Giles faces his old team. Oh yeah and the Blue Jays could affect the outcome of the AL West title. Oakland is currently 4.5 games back. If the Blue Jays sweep Houston and Oakland sweeps Seattle. They could force the Astros to face the Yankees in the wild card game. Here is today's game recap

Game Highlights

  • The Astros took the lead in the top of the 1st as Yuli Gurriel singled scoring George Springer 
  • The Astros added a run in the top of the 2nd as Brian McCann led off with a HR to right
  • A batter later, Josh Reddick homered to right
  • The Astros added a run in the top of the 3rd as Alex Bregman doubled home Jose Altuve
  • The Blue Jays got on the board in the bottom of the 4th as Kevin Pillar drove a towering moon shot over the walk in left; also scoring Justin Smoak
  • Marco Estrada pitching line: 4.2IP 7H 4R (all earned) 1BB 1K 93 pitches (58 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the bottom of the 5th as Yangervis Solarte singled home Luke Maile
  • Dallas Keuchel pitching line: 5IP 7H 3R (all earned) 3BB 5K 86 pitches (48 for strikes)
  • The Astros added a run in the top of the 9th as Altuve singled scoring Jake Marisnick
  • Roberto Osuna pitched in Toronto for the first time since he was arrested back in May. He threw a scoreless inning for his 10th save as an Astro, 18th of the season
  • Final score: Astros 5 Blue Jays 3
My Take

  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr. left the game after the first inning with tightness in his left hamstring. If it's anything more than a very minor issue, the Blue Jays may just opt to shut him down with five games to go and nothing to play for. Gurriel Jr. might resist not playing the next two days with his brother in town.
  • Marco Estrada had a night to forget in what could be his final start in a Blue Jays uniform. Estrada was knocked around to the tune of 4 runs on 7 hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. When he walked off the mound, he looked so defeated and probably sad that his final start of the season didn't go better (of course he could start the last game of the season too).
  • Not surprisingly, the boo birds were out in the 9th inning when Osuna came on to pitch. Every pitch he threw, the boos seemed to get louder and louder. Interestingly, Osuna's case is back in session tomorrow. You have to wonder if it's going to be settled out of court.
  • Rowdy Tellez pinch hit for Jonathan Davis in the 9th and flew out to LF
  • Jonathan Davis started in LF and batted leadoff. He was 1-3 with a single and he drew a walk. Davis was involved in 6 plays defensively
  • Richard Urena was at second base and batting 9th tonight. He was 3-4 at the the plate. He was involved in 2 plays defensively
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to even the series and delay the Astros in getting 100 wins as Sam Gaviglio takes on Astros rookie righty Josh Jamees

no. 157 - Houston Astros (98-57) at Toronto Blue Jays (71-85)



Monday, September 24, 2018 | 7:07 pm
House of Gurriel | Toronto, ON

Dallas Keuchel (11-11, 3.71, 1.29) vs. Marco Estrada (7-13, 5.57, 1.41)


PREAMBLE:

After a series split against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Blue Jays welcome the defending World Series champions Astros to Toronto for a three-game series.

On the mound, Marco Estrada takes the ball as he attempts to stave off Father Time stealing what's left of his "fastball".  Dallas Keuchel is his counterpart in tonight's matchup.


NOTES:

There's all kinds of story lines going on in this series.  We've got:

  • the Gurriel brothers facing each other for the first time, and they seem to be gearing up for the matchup as they both hit 2 home runs last Friday to be the first brothers to do so on the same day. 
  • Roberto Osuna making his return to Toronto for the first time since he was traded away after serving a 75-game suspension for a domestic violence allegation. The boos could be rather loud.
  • Ken Giles facing his old mates for the first time - wanna bet he'll be extra-amped with a couple ticks higher on the radar gun?
  • the Astros looking to clinch a division title as they lead Oakland by 4.5 games with 7 games to play.
  • and the Astros needing 2 wins to reach 100 for the season for the third time in franchise history.


No shame in losing a pitcher's duel to Blake Snell, too bad that Ryan Borucki couldn't get some support in yesterday's game.  Here's an interesting fact:


LINEUPS:

Astros:
CF Springer
2B Altuve
SS Bregman
1B Gurriel
DH Gattis
C McCann
RF Reddick
3B Davis
LF Kemp


This is your "grab a bucket of popcorn and a six-pack, gonna be fun" game thread.

ten weekly random thoughts: week 25 September 17-23


We have arrived at the final week in the MLB schedule. There have been good moments (Kendrys Morales seven game HR streak, the play of Ryan Borucki, Yangervis Solarte becoming just the second player in the live ball era with 5 hits) and they've had bad moments (the pitching, countless errors that shouldn't be made and players not hustling). In 2017, after 156 games, the Blue Jays had a record of 73-83, two wins better than this year. This week, I will finish my analysis of all 9 positions with the two corner outfield positions and the pitchers (split into starters and relievers). Next week, I will analyze a replacement for John Gibbons and look at the free agents available. Here are ten random thoughts from week 25 of the MLB.

1. With no injury updates this week, let's get right into analyzing some positions starting in left field. Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, Russell Martin, Curtis Granderson, Billy McKinney, Steve Pearce, Dwight Smith Jr., Anthony Alford, Dalton Pompey, Jonathan Davis and Darnell Sweeney have all played at least one inning in left field this year. Hernandez has played the most games (86). This has been one of the most difficult positions for the Blue Jays to find any kind of consistency defensively. Hernandez has had a nightmare of a season in the outfield. He has committed 8 errors this season, 4 each in left and right field. I thought it was interesting that he pinch hit in the 7th inning Saturday, but was replaced in the field by Jonathan Davis. McKinney has looked like an all-star in LF, above and away the best of everyone who has played in that position this year. Martin's game came in Boston and he misjudged a ball off the green monster that turned into a triple. Pearce and Granderson were both traded ahead of the deadline to the Red Sox and Brewers respectively. Pompey has fallen out of favor with management. The way things stand now and assuming the Blue Jays don't pursue a free agent, McKinney should get the bulk of the games in LF. Hernandez needs to work very hard in the off-season on his defense. There are still a lot of players playing for spots in the outfield next year. A trade or two could happen. Certainly one or two of the above mentioned players will start the season in the minors until injuries happen. Hopefully next year brings some stability in this position.

2. In right field, Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Curtis Granderson, Billy McKinney, Steve Pearce, Dwight Smith Jr., and Anthony Alford all played at least one inning in RF. Grichuk got the bulk of the starts (97) in right. This position should belong to Grichuk next year. It is likely that the Blue Jays will try to trade Hernandez or sign a free agent. Smith Jr. and Alford will get long looks in RF next year in spring training.

3. Pitching was a big problem for the Blue Jays this year. Their starters struggled to go deep into games, which forced the bullpen to be used-- a lot. Fourteen different players started at least one game for the Blue Jays (JA Happ, Marco Estrada, Ryan Borucki, Aaron Sanchez, Sam Gaviglio, Marcus Stroman, Mike Hauschild, Tyler Clippard, Luis Santos, Jaime Garcia, Joe Biagini, John Axford, Thomas Pannone and Sean Reid-Foley). Happ and Garcia are no longer with the team, having been traded and DFA'd respectively. Borucki has been the best of the bunch, sporting a 4-4 record with a 3.86ERA (he could have a few more wins if the offense had scored a few more runs for him). The remarkable thing is Borucki started his career facing the game's best lineups and he did not look out of place. Estrada is a pending free agent and will likely not be re-signed as several pitchers have outplayed him. Reid-Foley had a rocky first couple of starts in August and was sent back down for a couple of weeks. In September, he has looked much better. He is showing signs of tiring as he threw almost a hundred pitches in each of his last 2 starts and he didn't look as effective. Stroman has had a rocky season to say the least. He had to endure 2 injuries that required DL stints (inflamed shoulder and finger blister). When he did pitch, he was among the worst of the Blue Jay starters, finishing the year with a 4-9 record and 5.54 ERA. If I'm Blue Jays management, I'm looking to move Stroman because he has major attitude problems and he's not as good as he thinks he is. Sanchez had a frustrating season as well. He missed 2 months after catching his finger while zipping up his suitcase in Anaheim. He has pitched better in September and is looking to finish the year on a positive note. Pannone has made 4 starts and pitched solidly in three of them. He throws lightly, so there is question if his performance is sustainable. Biagini started in Stroman's spot when he first went on the DL. He really didn't fare well as a starter. Biagini struggled mightily after 50 pitches or so. Gaviglio has been Jekyl and Hyde this season. He's been fine at home with a 2-2 record and 3.26ERA. Away from the Roger's Center, Sammy G is 1-6 with a 7.91ERA. The rotation next year should be Borucki-SRF-Pannone-Sanchez-Stroman-free agent. Also, I would only let Sammy G start at home.

4. The bullpen has been an overworked, inconsistent mess. Too many times, the Blue Jays have been forced to use three relievers to get three outs in an inning. I'm amazed that Kendrys Morales was the only position player that pitched and only once. Toronto looks like they made a brilliant trade of closers at the deadline. Ken Giles has been brilliant in save opportunities, saving all twelve games he's been needed in. However, Giles is a completely different pitcher in a non-save situation and that is a problem. Roberto Osuna started off as the closer and saved 9 games before getting in legal trouble for alleged domestic violence. He was suspended 75 games and was eventually traded. Inhis absence, the Blue Jays used Tyler Clippard, Ryan Tepera and Seunghwan Oh as closer. All three had varying levels of success and none really had the confidence of manager John Gibbons. One thing I would like to see changed next year, and this might ease the problem of overworking pitchers, is to stretch out a reliever or two so they can pitch multiple innings in case the starter gets in trouble early or is injured. The Blue Jays used an 8-man bullpen most of the year, but even there the Blue Jays were near the top of the league in bullpen appearances. The Blue Jays may look at some free agent options to add to their bullpen.

5. The playoff picture is slowly becoming clearer as we get closer to the end of the season. The American League almost has the five teams that will compete. Boston clinched the AL East title with a victory in the series finale at Yankee Stadium Thursday. The Indians have clinched the AL Central. Houston is currently up 3.5 games on the Oakland A's for the AL West Division title and the WC game will be between the Yankees and whoever doesn't win the AL West. Where that WC game will be played likely won't be known until next weekend, but it the playoffs started tomorrow, the game would be at Yankees Stadium between NY and Oakland. There is still much to be decided in the National league. The only thing that has been decided so far is the NL East title, which was captured by Atlanta Saturday. In the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs have a 2.5 game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers and 4.5 game lead over the Cardinals. The NL West is even tighter with the Dodgers holding a 1.5 game edge over the Rockies. The Diamondbacks are all but eliminated, 7.5 games back of LA.  The Wild Card participants likely won't be decided until the final weekend. The Cardinals have a slim 1.5 game lead over the Rockies for the second wild card spot. The final week of the season is going to be fun!

6. Coming from the Mets-Nationals game Saturday was a very cute young fan emulating an umpire  He has the full gear of a home plate umpire, including the mask. If you give him some stilts to make him taller, I bet he'd be better than an adult umpire. This clip also reminds me of this young fan imitating Mikka Kiprusoff.

7. Ex-Blue Jays to watch in the playoffs: Josh Donaldson, Melky Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion (Indians); Steve Pearce (Red Sox); Curtis Granderson (Brewers); JA Happ (Yankees); John Axford (Dodgers); Roberto Osuna (Astros); George Poulis (trainer for the Braves)

8. This is one of the best first pitches ever. Can the Blue Jays sign her to be a reliever?

9. Two pitches left their Sunday starts very early. One could have playoff ramifications and one could affect the team next year. Charlie Morton left his start early after just 1 inning and 24 pitches. He had just come off the DL from a shoulder strain. His velocity was down today. His early exit has to be concerning for the Astros with the playoffs a week away. Alex Cobb also left his start in the first inning after throwing just 4 pitches. He has been dealing with a blister on his finger. Given what Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez have been through, the blister could easily cause problems for Cobb in 2019 and beyond

10. Blue Jay of the week: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who made history this week with brother Yulieski becoming the second brother duo to each hit two HR in the same day. Oh and Lourdes also homered in three straight AB's.

Follow me on twitter @tpoole00 and check out my other blog @ proudbcer.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Game #156 Tampa Bay Rays (87-68) @ Toronto Blue Jays (71-85) - game recap

Blake Snell threw 6.2 shutout innings as the Rays knocked off the Blue Jays 5-2 to keep their slim playoff hopes alive

Today's game actually had some relevance. A Rays loss would eliminate Tampa Bay from the playoffs. Ryan Borucki was making his second to last start of the season. He has more than proven himself as a lock of the rotation next year. Here is today's game recap.

Game Highlights

  • The Rays took the lead in the top of the 4th as Joey Wendle doubled home Tommy Pham
  • The Rays added a run in the top of the 6th as Pham scored on a ground-rule double by CJ Cron
  • Ryan Borucki pitching line: 7IP 3H 2R (both earned) 4BB 7K 101 pitches (60 for strikes)
  • Blake Snell pitching line: 6.2IP 3H 0R 2BB 11K 100 pitches (60 for strikes)
  • The Rays added a run in the top of the 8th as Cron homered to left-center
  • Two batters later, Brandon Lowe hit a 2 run HR to right; also scoring Wendle
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the bottom of the 8th as Danny Jansen scored on a ground out by Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
  • a batter later, Aledmys Diaz singled home Richard Urena
  • Final score: Rays 5 Blue Jays 2
My Take

  • Ryan Borucki was excellent today. He allowed 2 runs on three hits and walked four other batters. He even got some nice plays defensively behind him. Borucki reminds me of a young Ricky Romero with the deftness he displays when mowing down each lineup he faces. Borucki is building a strong case for rookie of the year. He leads all rookies pitchers with 11 starts allowing 2 or fewer earned runs
  • Kevin Kiermaier was forced to leave the game in the top of the 8th when he appeared to  strain his back on a check swing. Earlier in the game he crashed into the wall in right-center making a great catch
  • The comeback fell short again. The Blue Jays had runners on first and second in the 9th, but Richard Urena grounded out to first base to end the threat
  • With the win, the Rays are still alive in the wild card race, but could be eliminated later today if Oakland wins
  • Jonathan Davis started in left field and batted leadoff. He was 0-4 at the plate and was involved in one play defensively
  • Rowdy Tellez was at first base and batting 6th. Tellez was 0-4 at the plate. He made a fielding error in the 5th. Including the error, he was involved in 9 plays defensively
  • Anthony Alford pinch ran for Kendrys Morales in the 9th. Nothing consequential came of it as the next batter, Urena grounded out to end the game
  • Richard Urena was at second base and batting 9th. He was 2-4 with a run scored. Urena was involved in three plays defensively
  • Danny Jansen was catching today and batting 8th. He was 2-2 and scored the Blue Jays 1st run. Jansen had one base stolen off him today
  • Jose Fernandez pitched a third of an inning and gave up 2 runs on 1 hit and a walk
  • David Paulino pitched a scoreless 9th 
  • Up next, the Gurriel brothers face each other again as the Houston Astros head to Toronto for a three game set starting tomorrow. It will be the final home series for the Blue Jays. Monday's game sees Marco Estrada making what is likely his final start of the season against Astros lefty Dallas Kuechel