Monday, April 23, 2018

ten random thoughts: Week 4: April 16-22

It's hard to believe that the Blue Jays are where they are a month into the 2018 season. They started out 0-2 and looked like they were headed to a similar fate as last season when Toronto started 1-9 in their first 10 games, 8 wins in all of April. Toronto already has 13 wins with eight days left in the month. If the playoffs started today, the Blue Jays would be facing the Angels on the road in the wild card game. Here are ten random thoughts from week 4 of the MLB.

1. Some good news and bad news on the injury front. The good news is DH Kendrys Morales returned Friday after missing 10 day-s with a hamstring injury. He had 2 hits in Fridays victory and a pair of runs scored and a RBI in the 8-5 win. The bad news is third baseman Josh Donaldson is a ways away from returning from a shoulder injury. Donaldson was shut down from throwing for a week and is expected to begin a throwing program in the coming weeks.

2. To make way for Morales, the Blue Jays demoted LHP Tim Mayza and the struggling Gift Ngoepe. Mayza had one appearance in the call-up. Ngoepe had the team-worst batting average and only had one hit all year. The Jays also recalled rookie Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who had a fine major league debut with a pair of run-scoring hits. He looks like a definite upgrade over Gift Ngoepe.

3. Ex-Jay Jose Bautista has signed a one year deal with the Atlanta Braves. His career looked over after Toronto opted not to re-sign him. Joey Bats will be playing third base for the Braves, instead of his traditional role in right field.  The 37-year old had a difficult year last year batting .203 with 23HR and 65RBI. The signing reunites Bautista with GM Alex Anthopolous, who was in the same role in Toronto 2003-2015. The Braves face the Blue Jays in Toronto June 19-20.

4. How about the play of Luke Maile? The Blue Jays backup catcher is off to a hot start in 2018, batting .476 with 8 RBI. He is taking full advantage of the extra playing time with starter Russell Martin on a 2 on 1 off playing schedule. It will pay dividends later in the season as Martin will be fresher at the end of the season with the extra rest and the Blue Jays know they can rely on Maile if Martin can't play. Also, Maile could be the starting catcher once Martin's contract ends after the 2019 season. Maile had a tough start Saturday with three wild pitches and a dropped ball on what should have been a force out.

5. Another ex-Jay, Adam Lind signed a minor league deal with the Yankees. Lind was signed by the Yankees but was released after 5 games in spring training after batting .200. The Yankees have a lot of injuries right now and not a lot of depth. Adam Lind will initially start in extended spring training in Tampa Bay but that stint may be short. Lind played for Toronto 2006-2014.

6. A very scary moment from the Chicago White Sox-Houston Astros series when White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar collapsed in the dugout during the 6th inning Friday night. Farquhar was rushed to hospital where it was discovered he had a ruptured brain hemorrhage. As of Saturday he was listed in stable, but critical conditions. We here at JITH wish Danny the best and a speedy recovery.

7. A big test for the Blue Jays this week. The Boston Red Sox are in town for a three game series. After losing the opening game of the season, Boston immediately caught fire and have won 17/20. However, Boston has lost 2 in a row. Then again so has Toronto. The Blue Jays will have to be careful pitching to JD Martinez, Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland, who are all batting over .300. Their pitchers are allowing 3 runs or less most games. It will be a good early test for Toronto.

8. Age is just a number. Bartolo Colon has been terrific this season. He had a 1.45 ERA going into his Saturday start. The big sexy had a perfect game through 7 innings on April 15. The 44 year old has transformed himself from a power pitcher to a control/contact pitcher. Colon is the last remaining active player to play for the Montreal Expos.

9. A major league record was set on Sunday as Brandon Belt had a 21 pitch AB vs. Angels starter Jamie Barria. Belt eventually flew out to right field. Barria lasted just 2 innings thanks in large part to Belt single-handedly running up the pitch count. The previous record was a 20 pitch at-bat when then Cleveland Indians rookie Bartolo Colon struck out Houston Astro Ricky Guitierrez back in 1988.

10. Blue Jay of the week: Teoscar Hernandez. The rookie outfielder was a bright spot for the Blue Jays this week. He had half of the Jays hits on Sunday and counted the lone run by taking ace Luis Severino yard for the first time this season. He had a big 4-6 night against the Royals on Wednesday and drove in 4 runs while scoring twice himself. Hernandez might be in the majors for life now.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Game #21 Toronto Blue Jays (13-8) @ NY Yankees (11-9) - game recap

Yankees ace Luis Severino pitched 7 strong innings as the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 5-1 on Sunday afternoon.

After a difficult 9-1 drubbing yesterday afternoon, the Blue Jays were looking to even the 4 game series and avoid their first series loss of the season. Here is today's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • Didi Gregorious opened the scoring with a solo HR to right with 2 outs in the bottom of the 1st
  • Austin Romine doubled to right scoring Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar with 2 outs in the bottom of the 2nd
  • Teoscar Hernandez got the Blue Jays on the board with a solo HR in the top of the 6th
  • Andujar doubled in the bottom of the 6th scoring Sanchez
  • Jaimie Garcia pitching line: 5.1IP 6H 4R (all earned) 3BB 6K 95 pitches (57 for strikes)
  • Luis Severino pitching line: 7IP 3H 1R (earned) 2BB 6K 112 pitches (69 for strikes)
  • The Yankees added a fourth insurance run in the bottom of the 7th on a sac fly by Gregorius
  • Final score: Yankees 5 Blue Jays 1

My Take:

  • The umpires got one wrong in the bottom of the 8th. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made a wide call to Justin Smoak that pulled him off the bag. It appeared on replay that Smoak was off the bag when he caught it. Tyler Austin was called out on the play and the call was held up on replay. That meant 2 outs nobody on instead of 1 out one on 1st.
  • The difference today was the Jays were facing Yankees ace Luis Severino who was on point. His slider was working leading to swings and misses and weak contact.
  • Jaimie Garcia battled through his 5.1 innings of work.He gave the Jays a chance to comeback keeping the score close until he tired in the 6th inning
  • Russell Martin continues to slump at the plate. He was 0-3 at the plate today and his average dropped to .130. Even though Luke Maille had a difficult start yesterday, he may be the better catching option.
  • Up next: After an off-day tomorrow, the Blue Jays return home to face the Red Sox, who are first in the majors. Last season Boston took the season series 12-8; including 2 series sweeps (June 30-July 2 and Aug 28-30). Tuesday's pitching match-up sees Rick Porcello facing JA Happ

no. twenty-one 2018: Blue Jays (13-7) at Yankees (10-9)

Sunday 22 April 2018
1:05PM EDT / Yankee Stadium / Bronx NY
Jaime Garcia (LHP 2-0 3.86 17K 0.00) v. Luis Severino (RHP 3-1 2.63 28K 0.00)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Game #20 Toronto Blue Jays (13-7) @ NY Yankees (10-9) - game recap

Aaron Judge was 2-4 at the plate with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored as the Yankees routed the Blue Jays 9-1 on Saturday afternoon.

After a solid 8-5 victory last night the Blue Jays were looking to win their second straight game. It was a gorgeous day weather-wise at the ball park, a nice change after the rough weather the Jays played in last weekend. Here is today's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • Aaron Judge opened the scoring with a 2 run HR  in the bottom of the 3rd that also scored Brett Gardener
  • Steve Pearce got the Jays on the board in the bottom of the 5th with a single to left that scored Randal Grichuk
  • Didi Gregorius extended the Yankee lead to 2 with a single to right scoring Gardene
  • Judge extended the lead to three as Luke Maile dropped what should have been a force out with the bases loaded
  • Miguel Andujar added two more runs with a double over the head of Kevin Pillar scoring Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks
  • Gardener hit a sac fly to Pillar that scored Adujar
  • The next batter, Judge, singled to left scoring catcher Austin Romine
  • Marcus Stroman pitching line: 5.1IP 5H 8R (6 earned) 4BB 5K 94 pitches (55 for strikes)
  • Jordan Montgomery pitching line: 6IP H4 1R (earned) 3BB 5K 91 pitches (54 for strikes)
  • Final Score Yankees 9 Blue Jays 1

My Take: 

  • Tough game for catcher Luke Maile defensively with 3 wild pitches and a dropped ball on a throw home by Stroman that should have been a force out. He was also 0-4 at the plate. 
  • Starter Marcus Stroman cruised through the first five innings but then the Yankees hit him hard in the 6th with a big 7 run, 12 batter innings, 6 runs which were the responsibility of Stroman. Overall, Marcus had good movement on his pitches and deserved a better fate today.
  • Blue Jays hitters were cold today. They loaded the bases in the 5th inning but were unable to capitalize. The good thing about baseball is you can put a bad game behind you pretty quick as you generally play the next day.
  • Up  next, the Blue jays wrap up this four game series looking for the split as the Jaimie Garcia gets the start against Yankees ace Luis Severino

no. twenty 2018: Blue Jays (13-6) at Yankees (9-9)

Saturday 21 April 2018
1:05PM EDT / Yankee Stadium / Bronx NY
Marcus Stroman (RHP 0-1, 7.98 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 16 K)
v. Jordan Montgomery (LHP 1-0, 4.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 12 K)