Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hump Day Gratitude

 


It's baaaaaaaack...

I'm grateful that I have a job that I love. What are you grateful for?

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Obligatory Post no. THREE

 

how i intend to spend the winter, waiting for the Blue Jays to return.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Tunes and Tarot

Now that the Jays' season is over, it's time to get back to our Saturday night tuneage. Since Wolf isn't here (miss you!), it doesn't feel right for me to call this WTFJITH. Besides, I like the idea of pulling a card each week for the community. So I'm making a twist to a JITH tradition.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Wild Card game #2 - Toronto Blue Jays (0-2) @ Tampa Bay Rays (2-0) - game recap

 

Danny Jansen hit a pair of solo HR in a losing effort in an 8-2 shellacking at the hands of the Rays, who swept the best-of-3 WC series

The gamble to start Matt Shoemaker did not pay off yesterday. Shoemaker did fine, but the Rays scratched across three runs off a wild pitch by Robbie Ray and a bad mistake pitch by AJ Cole for 2 runs. Meanwhile, Blake Snell was showing why he won the Cy Young. Now, the Blue Jays turn to their ace to try and force a 3rd and deciding game. Same lineup as yesterday, except Vlad got the half day off as DH and Travis Shaw was at 1B (I think the decision had more to do with defense than anything else). Could the Bluer Jays stave off elimination and force a 3rd and deciding game? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game highlights:

  • The Rays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st as Manuel Margot singled home Randy Arozarena
  • The Rays added two runs in the bottom of the 2nd as Mike Zunino hammered a 2-run bomb to left; also scoring Kevin Kiermaier 
  • Six batters later, Hunter Renfroe smashed a grand slam to left; also scoring Arozarena, Yandy Diaz and Margot
  • Hyun-jin Ryu pitching line: 1.2IP 8H 7R (3 earned) 1BB 3K 45 pitches (30 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top of the 3rd as Danny Jansen smashed a solo bomb to left-center 
  • The Rays added a run in the bottom half of the inning as Arozarena doubled scoring Mike Brosseau
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top of the 5th as Jansen smacked a solo bomb to left
  • Tyler Glasgow pitching line: 6IP 6H 2R (both earned) 1BB 8K 86 pitches (55 for strikes)
  • Final score: Rays 8 Blue Jays 2

My Take:

  • The gamble to start Matt Shoemaker in game 1 instead of ace Hyun-jin Ryu backfired big time. Shoemaker pitched fine in his three innings of work and Ray allowed just the one run on a triple and wild pitch in his three innings. The problem is, the strategy was contingent on Ryu being on his game and he was definitely not. Right from the get-go, Ryu wasn't looking right (keep in mind, Montoyo reported that he was sore after throwing 7 innings and 100 pitches a week ago). His velocity on the fastball was down a tick or two, which is usually an indicator of a physical issue. A fielding error by Bo Bichette that led to 4 unearned runs three pitches later did not help Ryu's situation. Would having Ryu start yesterday have changed the Blue Jays fate? I don't think so. If anything, having Matt Shoemaker keep going yesterday might have made more of a difference because Ray might not have faced the same part of the lineup, or might not have been used at all. What the Blue Jays need to do now is rule out Ryu having an injury and if he has one, start the rehab now so he's fully ready to go in February, or whenever baseball starts next.
  • The Blue Jays had an unlikely hero offensively today in Danny Jansen, who went yard of Tyler Glasgow twice. This from a catcher who hit 6HR in 120AB over 43 games this season. Jansen also batted a paltry .143 on the season.
  • Two other players who impressed in the series were Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch. Pearson came in and fired 2 innings and struck out 5 batters. For Pearson, the best sign was his velocity, which topped out at 101.1MPH and several pitches hit 99.9MPH on the pitching radar. Hatch as the only Blue Jays pitcher to throw in both games (1 inning each game). He was perfect in both appearances and had 1 strikeout 
  • It's kind of fitting in a way that there was a costly error at a horrible time, leading to 4 unearned runs, that basically put the game and series away for the Rays, who now go into San Diego as a strong contender for the world series.. The Blue Jays were tied for 10th worst in the league, committing 39 errors as a team in the regular season. However,  they were 20th in the league when it came for fielding% (.982). Playoffs are a different beast, every play counts. Bo Bichette made one costly error that ultimately put the game out of reach.
  • Another reason why this series is over after 2 days is the Blue Jays were an ugly 0-13 with RISP.
  • One other thing, the Rays stadium had absolutely nothing to do with the Blue Jays loss yesterday or today. Both teams had to play on the same field and in the same conditions. Besides, the only way a stadium should factor in is when it is not domed (which the Rays stadium is) and there is inclement weather. I personally get tired of seeing Blue Jays fans grip about the stadium in TB when none  of the players or coaches are griping about it.
  • Up next, the off-season. Now it's time for Atkins and Shapiro to sit down and evaluate the good and bad points from the season, figure out who they want to bring back and start contract negotiations. At this point, relievers(especially closer), starting pitchers and a backup catcher would seem to be the areas of need. Also, I think Charlie Montoyo's job is safe... for now. He might have a short leash next season. I'm sure the Blue Jays will also evaluate the other coaches on staff at the same time.

AL Wild Card Series 2020: Blue Jays v. Tampa Bay



Hyun-Jin Ryu v. Tyler Glasnow
Tropicana Field - Tampa FL - 4:07PM EDT

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Wild Card game #1 - Toronto Blue Jays (0-1) @ Tampa Bay Rays (1-0) - game recap

Bo Bichette drove in the Blue Jays only run with a sac fly as the Rays took the first game of the best-of-3 wild card series 3-1


The Blue Jays were relegated to the last playoff spot after losing the season finale, meaning they have to face the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, a location that has not been kind historically to the Blue Jays. Matt Shoemaker got the start in the opener (presumably to give Hyun-jin Ryu an extra day of rest after he threw 100 pitches and went 7 innings Friday. Vlad go the start at 1B, while Alejandro Kirk became the youngest player to DH in a playoff game with Danny Jansen behind the plate. Jonathan Villar was at 2b with Cavan Biggio playing the hot corner. Everyone else was in their expected positions. Could the Blue Jays steal the 1st game of this series and prove Montoyo's gamble of not starting his ace in the 1st game right? Here is today's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • Matt Shoemaker pitching line: 3IP 2H 0R 0BB 2K 35 pitches (27 for strikes)
  • The Rays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 4th on a wild pitch by Robbie Ray that scored Randy Arozarena
  • Blake Snell pitching line: 5.1IP 1H 0R 2BB 9K 82 pitches (48 for strikes)
  • The Rays added a pair of runs in the bottom of the 7th as Miguel Margot lined a 2-run blast to left; also scoring Joey Wendle
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top of the 8th on a sac fly by Bo Bichette that scored Rowdy Tellez
  • Pete Fairbank pitched the 9th for his 1st save of the postseason
  • Final score: Rays 3 Blue Jays 1

My Take:

  • Matt Shoemaker did his part, firing three shutouts innings, allowing just 2 hits. He was pulled after three innings in favor of lefty Robbie Ray, who held the Rays to a run on a wild pitch, a walk and a hit over three innings. AJ Cole allowed a back-breaking 2-run home run in the 7th after the Rays escaped a Blue Jays threat in the 7th. Ryan Borucki and Thomas Hatch got the final 5 Rays in order to give the Blue Jays a fighting chance. Charlie Montoyo gambled that Shoemaker and the bullpen could hold the Rays offense enough for the Blue Jays to steal game 1, leaving ace Hyun-jin Ryu a chance to close out the series. Ultimately, the gamble could backfire because of one big mistake pitch at the wrong time
  • Offensively, the Blue Jays bats were pretty quiet. Leadoff man Cavan Biggio went 1-4, but struck out 3 times. Another gamble saw rookie catcher Alejandro Kirk inserted as DH ahead of the big bat of Rowdy Tellez, who came up with a pinch hit double, albeit with nobody on base. Look for his bat in the lineup tomorrow. The Blue Jays best chances to score came in innings 7-9. They were 1-4 with runners in scoring position
  • As has been a common theme this season, the bottom 4 of the lineup went a paltry 2-13 (just a 5th inning walk by Teoscar Hernandez (who later struck out looking at a clear strike 3 in the 9th), a single in the 6th by Kirk and a pinch hit double by Tellez with nobody on base in the 8th
  • To be frank, the top half of the lineup didn't do much either. Vlad and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. were the only ones to get on base more than once
  • Up next, the Blue Jays play their 1st elimination game. They turn to ace Hyun-jin Ryu to pitch lights out. The Rays will counter with righty Tyler Glasnow

AL Wild Card Series 2020: Blue Jays v. Tampa Bay

Monday, September 28, 2020

Ten random thoughts- September 12-27

With another off day in the schedule, comes my ever-popular random thoughts post. Today's post will look back on the season that was and look ahead to the upcoming best-of three playoff series for the Blue Jays. To say the least, the battle to make the playoffs anything but easy for the Blue Jays. First off, the Blue Jays had no home for the season. Canadian government bans them from playing regular season games in Toronto. Pittsburgh health officials also would not let them use PNC Park. That just left the options of the AAA home ballpark in Dunedin, where covid-19 was running rampant, or Buffalo, where cases were not quite as bad. In the end, the Blue Jays opted to play their home games in Buffalo. However, Buffalo needed to undergo some upgrades to meet MLB standards. The Blue Jays did not move into their temporary home ballpark until August 11th. Then the Miami Marlins had an outbreak of COVID-19 forcing the alteration of the schedules of seven different teams, including the Blue Jays, who got an unexpected four day weekend over the August long weekend. They had to play two double headers with Philadelphia and lost a scheduled off-day on August 27. Then came another double header on September 4th after the red Sox and blue Jays elected to join the NBA, NHL and several MLB teams and boycott a game in support of the black lives matter movement. Injuries were a factor and I will get into that more later. Looking at the last two weeks off the season, the Blue Jays had a rough final road trip of the season. they were swept and blown out of Yankees stadium by a combined score of 43 - 15. Ken Giles pitched what would be the final inning for the next year or more (he underwent Tommy John surgery; more on that later). Then the Blue Jays went into Philadelphia and lost 3 of 4, including both ends of the final double header of the season. the Blue Jays then came home and exacted some revenge, taking three of four from the Yankees, including two blow out wins, sandwiched by a blowout loss. the biggest win was the last one, where the Blue Jays clinched their first playoff appearance since 2016. the final weekend was all about resting key players, making sure relievers got some work so they were sharp for next week. Hyun-jin Ryu was excellent in his final start of the season, throwing 7 shutout innings against the Yankees on Thursday. Taijuan Walker, slated to start the second game of the series next week, threw 3 strong innings in his final tune up. Nate Pearson followed up with his return after missing a month, and he looked sharp with his fastball touching 101mph, a great sign for a pitcher who relies on velocity to be successful. Shun Yamaguchi had a rough showing on Friday, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits in 2/3 of an inning. On Saturday, TJ Zeuch served notice he should be considered for a spot on the playoff roster with 5 shutout innings, scattering 5 hits. on Sunday, Tanner Roark did not have the finish to the season he would have wanted, blowing a 4-1 lead in the 4th. It will be one of Roark or Shun Yamaguchi who will be the long man in the bullpen. At this point, neither pitcher inspires much confidence. Looking ahead, the Blue Jays open the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg. Here are ten random thoughts from the final two weeks of the season.

1. Let's start with some injury news that will affect the Blue Jays, not only the rest of the season but the entire 2021 season as well. Closer Ken Giles, who missed a month with forearm tightness, which often times is a precursor to the dreaded Tommy John surgery that costs pitchers a full calendar year or more, returned to pitch two innings in low leverage situations. After the second appearance, Giles told training staff he wasn't feeling right. he consulted with renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, and it was decided he needs to undergo the season-ending procedure that will wipe out this season and all of next season. It's unfortunate timing for Giles, who was slated to become a free agent for the first time. As for the Blue Jays, this season they've been using a closer by committee strategy in Giles' absence. Jordan Romano (currently on the IL with a strained middle finger), Ross Stripling, Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, and AJ, Cole all have at least one save. For the postseason, the Blue Jays will turn to either Dolis or Bass in a save situation. As far as next season is concerned, Bass is under team control for another year, so they could bring him back in that role. Dolis has been effectively wild and may not be an ideal choice with the game on the line. The Blue Jays could also look at signing a free agent or brokering a trade in the off-season. Nonetheless, it will be an important decision with the team on the verge of being competitive again.

2. The Blue Jays made some surprising moves, letting legends Pat Hentgen and Paul Quantrill go, as well as AAA-manager Ken Huckaby. Hentgen and Quantrill had been serving as special advisors so the timing of their departure made sense (to allow them to catch on with another team). Huckaby was fired after not having managed a single game (minor league season was cancelled by the pandemic). He spent this season working with players in Rochester. Maybe there was a disagreement somewhere along the line between him and some of the splatters he worked with our Atkins decided the AAA team needed a more experience manager at the helm. Or, it could be purely a cost-cutting measure with so much uncertainty about next season, due to the pandemic and expiring CBA agreement.

3. One big advantage to the truncated season is the number of players who made their big league debuts. In a normal season, Nate Pearson would have started the year in AAA and maybe join the team a month or two into the season. Alejandro Kirk probably wouldn't have been in the majors for a year or two, but thanks to the struggles of Reese McGuire and Caleb Joseph, Kirk got his chance two weeks ago. Are these players going to start next season on the big league roster? Maybe or maybe not, but they will have a leg up on the competition next year to be sure.

4. This year, the MLB introduced several temporary rules to be able to make it through the season: the universal DH, seven-inning double headers, runner starting on second base in extra innings, lifting restrictions on position players pitching (starting next season position players can only pitch in blow outs of more than 6 runs or in extra innings). I would like to see the universal rule stay forever. This will reduce bunting to a minimum. I can see players wanting to keep seven inning games to stay fresh during a 162 game schedule. The MLB should get rid of the runner starting on second base in extra innings. All innings should start with nobody on base. Having longer games will discourage managers like Charlie Montoyo from pulling the starter after five innings night after night.

5. Another temporary measure is expanded playoffs with the top two teams in each division and the next two highest records making the playoffs. this has meant that more teams were within striking distance of a playoff spot and teams that already made the playoffs had a chance to move to a higher seed and potentially a more favorable opponent. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred seems open to the idea of expanded playoffs, but not with sixteen teams. You might see top 2 in each division making the playoffs and no WC teams. You don't want to extend the playoffs much past the end of October with inclement weather more likely to play a factor.

6. Three Blue Jays who impressed this season

  • Cavan Biggio - He was a jack of all trades this season, playing 2B, 3B, CF and RF this season. Biggio proved to be a patient hitter at the plate, with 41 walks (2nd in the MLB). He batted .253, but got on base .375 of the time (or an average of almost once a game). Biggio has turned into a solid leadoff hitter, a role that's been unstable until this season.
  • Hyun-jin Ryu -the big off-season acquisition, Hyun-Jin Ryu has paid dividends this season with a 5-2 record with a 2.69ERA, 72 strikeouts, and just 17 walks in 12 starts. He was the only starter to pitch seven innings.
  • Rafael Dolis - The 32-year old reliever quietly had himself a solid season, with a 2-2 record and 5 saves in 24 appearances. He earned the trust of Charlie Montoyo, being used in high-leverage situations. His strikeout-walk ratio wasn't great (31 strikeouts and 14 walks)

7. Three Blue Jays who disappointed this season

  • Wilmer Font - In a curious move, Charlie Montoyo changed Font's role this season. Last season, Font was used in more of a long man role. This season, he started out pitching the 6th or 7th, then in lower leverage situations. Font finished the year DFA'd and with many questions about his future with the Blue Jays. Font was 1-3 with a brutal 9.92ERA. Only Trent Thornton and Hector Perez had a worse ERA this season
  • Shun Yamagushi - Poor Shun Yamaguchi. His first 2 appearances came in the 10th inning with a runner on second (as per the temporary rule in place). He finished 2-3 with an ugly 7.61ERA. Either he or Tanner Roark will be on the playoff roster come Tuesday.
  • Reese McGuire and Caleb Joseph (tie) - Perhaps the weakest position for the Blue Jays. Reese McGuire had the job handed to him on a platter. He had a brutal time at the plate, getting just 3 hits in 41AB. He finished with a team worst .073 average and OB%. Defensively, McGuire have 3 errors, threw out 50% of base runners (4/8) and had 2 passed balls and 2 wild pitches with him behind the plate. Joseph got into 3 games, went 1-9 when batting. Defensively, Joseph didn't throw out any of the 4 base runners that ran against him, had 2 errors, 1 passed ball and 1 wild pitch. Alejandro Kirk can be included here defensively (4 wild pitches, no base runners thrown out in 4 attempts), but he gets a pass because he wasn't even supposed to be in the bigs this season, but Joseph and McGuire were so awful that management felt he couldn't do much worse.

8. After dropping the last game of the season to the lowly Baltimore Orioles, the Blue Jays will now have to face AL-best Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg. The Blue Jays were 4-6 against the Rays outscoring the Rays 48-44. Four of the losses against the Rays were by one run. The season series wrapped up a month ago. It's going to be important to get the lead early because the Rays have a good bullpen (their starters are pretty good too). It'll be good to get the young guns some valuable playoff experience a year or two earlier than expected.

9. Finally, kudos to the MLB and every team for successfully completing the season. Right off the bat, the MLB had to contend with a COVID outbreak among the Miami Marlins, affecting the schedules of seven teams. Later, the Cardinals had their own outbreak and had to make up several games. The Cleveland Indians disciplined Mike Clevenger and Adam Plesac. The MLB also cancelled a couple of other series when a couple of staff members or players tested positive. Who knows what the situation will be when spring training is supposed to begin in 6 months. Maybe there will be a vaccine by then. Maybe fans will be allowed in the ball parks again. The MLB and MLBPA need to take the lessons learned from this season and start working on a plan for next season now.

10. Blue Jay of the year.Lourdes Gurriel Jr. He finished the year 1st on the team in batting average (.308), tied for 3rd in RBI (33), 3rd in HR (11), 2nd in OBP (.348). Defensively, he had 1 error, 3 assists and 100 putouts. Hard to imagine he's the same player who was demoted to Buffalo for a month last year after defensive struggles started affecting him at the plate.

Bonus thought: the home record is a big reason why the Blue Jays are in the playoffs. The Blue Jays finished 17-9 at home, outscoring opponents 154-129 and 15-19 on the road, getting outscored 176-143

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Game #60 Baltimore Orioles (25-35) @ Toronto Blue Jays (32-28) - game recap

 

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was 4-4 with 3 runs scored and 2RBI in a losing effort as the Blue Jays fell to the Orioles 7-5 in the regular season finale.

Here we are, the final game of the 2020 regular season. After today, one team (Baltimore) will be going home for the fall/winter, and one team (Toronto) will be moving on to play in the best-of-three first round of the playoffs. Tanner Roark got the start in what has not been a great season for him. He came into today's start with a 2-3 record and a dreadful 7.01ERA in 10 starts. Only Chase Anderson had a worse ERA (7.67) and he missed the first couple of weeks recovering from an oblique strain. Cavan Biggio was back in the field at the hot corner after getting the day off yesterday. Vlad got the half day off as DH with Travis Shaw at 1B. Randal Grichuk was back in the field after DH'ing yesterday. Danny Jansen was behind the plate after the day off yesterday. Teoscar Hernandez got the full day off with Jonathan Davis in RF. Could the Blue Jays make it five wins in a row? Here is today's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Blue Jays took the lead in the bottom of the 2nd on a sac fly by Jonathan Davis that scored Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
  • The Orioles tied the game in the top of the 3rd as Renato Nunez doubled home Austin Hays
  • The Blue Jays retook the lead in the bottom half of the inning as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. smashed a solo bomb to dead center
  • Two batters later, Gurriel Jr. whacked a 2-run blast to left; also scoring Randal Grichuk
  • The Orioles got a pair back in the top of the 4th as Cedric Mullins tripled home Hanser Alberto and Pat Valaika
  • A batter later, Mullins scored on a sac fly hit by Hays 
  • Keegan Akin pitching line: 3IP 5H 4R (all earned) 1BB 4K 51 pitches (35 for strikes)
  • Tanner Roark pitching line: 4IP 5H 4R (2 earned) 2BB 2K 91 pitches (54 for strikes)
  • The Orioles took the lead in the top of the 5th as Rio Ruiz doubled home Ryan Mountcastle 
  • A batter later, Nunez scored on a ground out by Alberto
  • A batter later, Valaika singled home Ruiz
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the bottom of the 8th on a throwing error by Alberto that scored Gurriel Jr.
  • Cesar Valdez pitched a perfect 9th for his 3rd save of the season
  • Final score: Orioles 7 Blue Jays 5

My Take:

  • Tanner Roark's final start (and possibly final appearance) of the season did not go according to plan. He gave up 4 runs (just 2 earned thanks to an error by Grichuk on a catch) on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 2. He actually lowered his ERA to 6.80.  He can thank the defense for helping him escape a 1st inning bases loaded jam, or his ERA might have ticked up a bit. He blew a 4-1 lead through 3 innings. Disappointing season to be sure 
  • Cavan Biggio drew 2 more walks to finish 2nd in the MLB with 41 walks on the season
  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had a great end to the season going 4-4 with 3 runs scored and 2RBI
  • Up next, the Blue Jays head to Tampa Bay where they will begin a best of three series against the TB Rays. Hyun-jin Ryu (assuming he's feeling ok) should get the start against Rays lefty Blake Snell. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Game #59 Baltimore Orioles (24-35) @ Toronto Blue Jays (32-27) - game recap

 

Randal Grichuk hit a clutch 3-run HR in the 6th as the Blue Jays knocked off the Orioles 5-2 for their 4th straight win

The Blue Jays continued to play out the string with the potential of a 5th seed finish. This could mean the difference between facing the White Sox, who are 12-0 vs. lefties, Cleveland, and even Tampa Bay (a house of horrors for the Blue Jays). For that to happen, the Blue Jays have to sweep the Orioles and have the Yankees lose their season finale tomorrow. Initially Matt Shoemaker was supposed to start today, instead he was held back to give the Blue Jays more flexibility next week. TJ Zeuch got the start in what was effectively a bullpen day. Bo Bichette got the complete day off with Joe Panik at SS. Travis Shaw got the half day off as the DH with Vlad back in the field at 1B. Alejandro Kirk got the start behind the plate. Randal Grichuk got the day off with Jonathan Davis in CF. Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. were both back in the field, at the hot corner and LF respectively, after days off yesterday. Could the Blue Jays make it four wins in a row? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • TJ Zeuch pitching line: 5IP 0H 0R 0BB 0K 75 pitches (48 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 6th as Cavan Biggio smashed a solo bomb to right-center
  • John Means pitching line: 6IP 1H 1R (earned) 1BB 9K 99 pitches (66 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays added 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th as Randal Grichuk whacked a 3-run blast to right; also scoring Teoscar Hernandez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
  • The Orioles got one back in the top of the 8th as Jose Iglesias doubled home Austin Hays 
  • A batter later, Ryan Mountcastle singled scoring Iglesias. Mountcastle was thrown out at 2nd by Hernandez trying to stretch a single into a double
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 8th as Biggio scored on a fielder's choice hit by Guerrero Jr.
  • Anthony Bass got the last 4 outs for his 7th save of the season
  • Final score: Blue Jays 5 Orioles 2

My Take:

  • TJ Zeuch just made the decision on who to include on the playoff roster a bit harder. He threw five shutout innings, scattering 5 hits, in a surprise start after the Blue Jays opted to hold Matt Shoemaker back. He was 1-0 with a 1.59ERA in 3 appearances (1 start) heading into today's game. Zeuch was initially drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 1st round (31st overall), but chose not to sign. He re-entered the draft in 2016 and was drafted in the 1st round (16th overall). I say, why not give him a shot in the playoffs. He can't be any worse than Shun Yamagushi or Wilmer Font
  • Offensively, Randal Grichuk came off the bench and hit a clutch 3-run HR to put the Blue Jays up by 4 at the time. It would prove large later when the Orioles got a pair back against Ross Stripling, who left the game after getting hit in the leg by a comebacker. Cavan Biggio also came up large, scoring 2 of the Blue Jays runs and driving in one
  • Up next, the Blue Jays wrap up the regular season with a mid-afternoon matinee (noon for Scot, aka ItsAllOver! and I). Tanner Roark gets the start and he'll be looking to end the season on a positive after average at best campaign that saw him spout off about being pulled early a month ago. Roark will likely be given more leash to go deeper in the game to rest the bullpen. The Orioles will counter with lefty Keegan Atkin

Friday, September 25, 2020

Game #58 Baltimore Orioles (24-34) @ Toronto Blue Jays (31-27) - game recap

 

Travis Shaw as 3-4 with a run scored and 2 RBI as the Blue Jays doubled up on the Orioles 10-5

The Blue Jays opened up the final series of the season, which will serve as a time to rest certain players, final tune-ups for others and opportunities to see whether some of the injured players will be able to compete in the playoffs. The Blue Jays are playing a team (Baltimore Orioles) who are playing out the string and looking ahead to the off-season. Taijuan Walker got the start. Cavan Biggio got the complete day off with Joe Panik at the hot corner, Jonathan Villar at 2B and Teoscar Hernandez in RF. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. got the full day off with Jonathan Davis in LF. Vlad got the half day off as DH with Travis Shaw at 1B. Could the Blue Jays make it three wins in a row? Here is tonight's game  recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 2nd as Randal Grichuk smacked a solo blast to left-center
  • Five batters later, Danny Jansen singled home Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
  • A batter later, Jonathan Davis scored on a sac fly by Jonathan Villar
  • A batter later, A batter later, Bo Bichette singled scoring Joe Panik
  • A batter later, Teoscar Hernandez singled scoring Jansen and Bichette 
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 3rd as Davis singled home Guerrero Jr.
  • Three batters later, Villar singled home Davis
  • Jorge Lopez pitching line: 2IP 9H 8R (all earned) 1BB 1K 54 pitches (34 for strikes)
  • Taijuan Walker pitching line: 3IP 0H 0R 0BB 4K 42 pitches (28 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays added a pair of runs in the bottom of the 4th as Travis Shaw whacked a 2-run blast to right, also scoring Grichuk
  • The Orioles got one back in the top of the 5th as Roman Urias smashed a solo bomb to right-center
  • Two batters later, Cedric Mullins smacked a solo blast to right
  • The Orioles got one back in the top of the 6th as Jose Iglesias to left
  • Four batters later, Hanser Alberto doubled home Rio Ruiz
  • The Orioles got one back in the top of the 9th as Alberto scored on a groundout hit by Mullins
  • Final score: Blue Jays 10 Orioles 5

My Take:

  • Taijuan Walker looked solid in his final 3-inning tune-up before the playoffs. He threw 42 pitches, 28 for strikes, and struck out 4, walked none, did not allow a hit or run. Just one batter went to a full count.
  • The biggest positive from tonight's game was the return of Nate Pearson, who's fastball was sizzling, topping out at 101.5mph. The question is how he feels tomorrow. Expect him to get one more relief appearance, likely Sunday
  • Shun Yamaguchi had a bit of a rough outing, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits in 2/3 of an inning.
  • The bats were still working. Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit and all but Teoscar Hernandez and Jonathan Villar scored at least one run. All but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Joe Panik drove in at least one run.
  • Even more impressive, the Blue Jays hitters only struck out 3 times
  • With the win, the Blue Jays are guaranteed to be over .500 for the first time since 2016, which, no surprise, is the last time the Blue Jays made the playoffs 
  • Up next, The Blue Jays go for four in a row as they try to nab the 5th playoff spot (pending the Marlins sweeping the Yankees). Matt Shoemaker gets the start against Orioles lefty John Means

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Game #57 New York Yankees (32-25) @ Toronto Blue Jays (30-27) - game recap

 

Hyun-jin Ryu threw seven shutout innings as the Blue Jays clinched a playoff berth with a 4-0 shutout victory over the Yankees

For the first time since 2016, the Blue Jays were looking to punch their ticket into the post-season with a win over the Yankees. Pete Walker and Luis Rivera are the only coaches left from the 2016 team. All players have moved on or retired. Hyun-jin Ryu, who was in the midst of a lost season in 2016 due to recovering from 2015 shoulder surgery, coming back for 1 start before going right back on the disabled list and eventually having season-ending elbow surgery, gets the start. Last night, the Blue Jays clobbered the Yankees in anticipation of making the postseason last night. However, the Mariners beat the Astros to stay alive (just) in the playoff race. Nate Pearson was activated for tonight with Wilmer Font being removed from the roster. Jordan Romano is expected to throw another bullpen tomorrow with a higher intensity. The Blue Jays elected to inject more offence in the lineup tonight with Alejandro Kirk serving as DH. Cavan Biggio was at the hot corner, Vlad was at first base, and Jonathan Villar was at 2B. Did the Blue Jays  wear themselves out last night, or did they have enough to beat the Yankees one more time? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 2nd as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. smacked a solo blast to left-center
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 3rd as Bo Bichette doubled home Cavan Biggio
  • The Blue Jays added a pair of runs in the bottom of the 6th as Alejandro Kirk doubled scoring Randal Grichuk and Guerrero
  • Jordan Montgomery pitching line: 5.1IP 6H 3R (all earned) 0BB 8K 88 pitches (60 for strikes)
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu pitching line: 7IP 5H 0R 2BB 4K 100 pitches (62 for strikes)
  • The Yankees got one back in the top of the 8th as Gio Urshela singled scoring Aaron Hicks 
  • Rafael Dolis got the last 4 outs for his 5th save of the season.
  • Final score: Blue Jays 4 Yankees 1

My take:

  • Hyun-Jin Ryu showed exactly why the Blue Jays signed him, throwing seven shutout innings, scattering 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4. He retired the first 5 batters he faced. The biggest jam Ryu got into was 2 singles to lead off the 6th, but Ryu retired the next three batters to escape the inning unscathed. His curve was nasty tonight.
  • Don't look now, but Vlad has quietly morphed into a legit MLB player. He opened the scoring with a solo blast and scored the 1st insurance run with some heads up base running. In the field, he made a nice stretch on a bad throw. He's making first base look easy, whereas before it looked like the most difficult position on the baseball diamond.
  • Now that the playoffs are clinched, the next three days will be all about resting some of the every day players, such as Randal Grichuk, Cavan Biggio and Vlad. For others, such as Teoscar Hernandez and Bo Bichette, who both recently returned from lengthy absences, it will be about getting timing back and being sharp for next week. Pitchers like Nate Pearson, Matt Shoemaker and Jordan Romano will get at least one appearance to prove they are healthy and set to play in the postseason. The other relievers will also see work to stay sharp.
  • Put this in perspective, the Blue Jays essentially played 57 road games this season. They didn't know their home ball park until the season was already underway and they didn't play their 1st game at Sahlen park until August 11th. I call that remarkable
  • With the win today, the Blue Jays are guaranteed to finished the regular season .500, even if they are swept in the final weekend of the season.
  • Up next, the Blue Jays open the final series of the regular season against the Baltimore Orioles, who are neck and neck with the Red Sox for last in the AL East and a better draft pick. Neither team has set their rotation for the final weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Game #56 New York Yankees (32-24) @ Toronto Blue Jays (29-27) - game recap

 

Danny Jansen was 4-4 with 3 runs scored and 3RBI and a hit by pitch in a 14-1 rout over the Yankees

The Blue Jays had a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016 with a win tonight and having the Mariners lose to the Astros. There's potential 2 or 3 fresh arms could be in the bullpen with Nate Pearson, Jordan Romano and Julian Merryweather all potentially going to be healthy. Pearson threw 2 stimulated innings in a liv BP Monday (and he felt fine the next day). Romano tossed a bullpen yesterday. Merryweather is the iffiest having just hit the IL with elbow tendinitis Monday. Robbie Ray got the start on the mound. Bo Bichette got the half day off as the DH with Joe Panik at SS today. Cavan biggio was back at his natural position at 2B. Travis Shaw was back in the lineup and at the hot corner after being a late scratch last night with back spasms. Danny Jansen was back behind the plate after sitting out the last 2 games. Could the Blue Jays punch their ticket into the post-season? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled home Cavan Biggio
  • On the next batter, Teoscar Hernandez scored when Gary Sanchez made a bad throw trying  to pick him off 3rd base
  • The Yankees got one back in the top of the 2nd on a passed ball by Danny Jansen that scored Luke Volt
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 3rd as Guerrero Jr, doubled scoring Randal Grichuk
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 4th as Danny Jansen smacked a solo blast to left
  • Four batters later, Grichuk singled scoring Biggio
  • Robbie Ray pitching line: 4IP 3H 1R (unearned) 4BB 5K 90 pitches (49 for strikes)
  • Masahiro Tanaka pitching line: 4IP 8H 5R (3 earned) 3BB 5K 91 pitches (55 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 6th as Hernandez scored on a fielder's choice hit by Guerrero Jr.
  • A batter later, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled home Grichuk
  • A batter later, Travis Shaw singled home Guerrero Jr.
  • Two batters later, Jansen was hit by a pitch forcing in Gurriel Jr
  • A batter later, Biggio doubled scoring Shaw and Joe Panik
  • A batter later, Bo Bichette doubled home Biggio and Jansen
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 8th as Jansen smacked a solo shot to left-center
  • Final score: Blue Jays 14 Yankees 1

My Take:

  • Robbie Ray battled command issues all game long, walking 4 batters. He did keep the damage to an unearned run on a passed ball by Danny Jansen. Five of the batters he faced went to full counts. My guess is he'll be in the bullpen in the postseason
  • Ross Stripling, on the other hand, was outstanding, allowing just one hit in 4 innings while striking out 4. He could be the 3rd starter or follow Matt Shoemaker.
  • Danny Jansen responded from Alejandro Kirk's solid 2 games with his own 4-4 effort with 3 runs scored and 3RBI
  • Every Blue Jay batter scored at least one run, and all but Joe Panik had at least one hit (though Panik drew a walk) and all but Panik and Teoscar Hernandez had at least 1 RBI
  • You could see the Blue Jays had their eye on their first playoff berth since 2016. Alas, they will have to wait at least one more day after Seattle beat Houston
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to punch their ticket into the postseason. Ace Hyun-jin Ryu gets the start in this important game. The Yankees will counter with lefty Jordan Montgomery

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Game #55 New York Yankees (32-23) @ Toronto Blue Jays (28-27) - game recap

 

Cavan Biggio smashed a solo HR in a 12-1 loss to the Yankees 

After a solid win against the Yankees last night, the Blue Jays were looking to keep it going tonight against Yankees ace Garrett Cole. Tanner Roark got the start for the Blue Jays. Rafael Dolis remained unavailable and day-to-day with a sore knee. Alejandro Kirk started back to back games behind the plate after a stellar performance at the plate last night. Randal Grichuk got the half day off as DH tonight with Jonathan Davis in CF. Initially Vlad was supposed to DH, but Travis Shaw was scratched with back spasms. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was back in the field after DH'ing last night. Could the Blue Jays make it three in a row? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Yankees opened the scoring in the top of the 1st as Aaron Hicks tripled home Aron Judge
  • On the next batter, Hicks scored on a wild pitch by Tanner Roark
  • The Yankees added a run in the top of the 4th as Gio Urshela singled home Gleyber Torres
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the bottom half of the inning as Cavan Biggio smashed a solo bomb to dead center 
  • The Yankees added a run in the top of the 5th as Judge singled home Kyle Higashioka
  • A batter later, Hicks singled scoring Judge and DJ LeMahieu 
  • Two batters later, Torres singled home Hicks
  • Tanner Roark pitching line: 4.1IP 7H 6R (all earned) 0BB 4K 72 pitches (40 for strikes)
  • The Yankees added a run in the top of the 8th as Brett Gardner singled home Urshela
  • A batter later, Higashioka doubled home Gardner and Clint Frazier. The initial home run call was overturned upon review 
  • Garrett Cole pitching line: 7IP 5H 1R (earned) 0BB 7K 108 pitches (77 for strikes)
  • The Yankees added a run in the top of the 9th as Torres singled scoring Judge
  • A batter later, Urshela singled home Mike Tauchman
  • Final score: Yankees 12 Blue Jays 1

My Take:

  • It was another so-so start for Tanner Roark, who is competing for one of the three starter's spots in the playoffs. He gave up 6 runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out four. Since he made some comments about getting pulled too early on September 9, he's allowed 14 runs on 15 hits while walking 5 and striking out 11 in 12.1 innings, not great. At this point, it looks like Ryu and Taijuan Walker will be under a lot of pressure to pitch deep into their starts because there aren't many options available that can pitch any kind of length. Jacob Waguespack, Ryan Borucki, Roark, and Matt Shoemaker can definitely throw a few innings.
  • The bullpen options also look questionable. Wilmer Font was roughed up the second day in a row pitching in a low leverage situation. He gave up a couple of runs in the 9th. Chase Anderson gave up three runs in the 8th to put the game out of reach, if it wasn't already. Ryan Borucki should a solid option from the left side. Jordan Roman is expected back to close/set up a close game. Rafael Dolis has also earned the trust of Charlie Montoyo.. Anthony Bass has also been a solid addition. The big question is how much the relievers have left in the tank after being used so much the last 2 months
  • Offensively, it was not a good night. The only run came off a solo bomb by Cavan Biggio. Beyond that, the biggest threat the Blue Jays had was on back-to-back singles to start the 6th (that turned into 2 chances to bring a couple in with runners on 1st and 2nd with one out). Alas, Alejandro Kirk was thrown out at home trying to score on a ground ball to Gio Urshela and Jonathan Davis was thrown out at 3rd base on the next play. The final 9 Blue Jays were outs.
  • Defensively, it wasn't a good game either. Teoscar Hernandez misplayed a line drive hit out to him, allowing Aaron Hicks to make it to 3rd base on a triple. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made a bad play on a ball, bringing home two more runs. It's these kinds of plays that will mean an early exit in the playoffs.
  • Up next, the Blue Jays look to bounce back after the rough one tonight. Robbie Ray gets the start against Jays killer Masahiro Tanaka 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Game #54 New York Yankees (31-23) @ Toronto Blue Jays (28-26) - game recap

 

Alejandro Kirk was 4-4 with 3 runs scored and an RBI and finished a triple short of the cycle as the Blue Jays routed the Yankees 11-6

After a dreadful road trip that saw the Blue Jays lose 6 of seven, including a three game sweep to the team they face four times this week starting tonight, the NY Yankees. The Blue Jays limped (literally and figuratively) home after the road trip. Closer Ken Giles will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow and miss the rest of this season and the entire season next year, meaning the Blue Jays will have to decide if Jordan Romano or Anthony Bass will fill that role or if they will go after a free agent or make a trade. Meanwhile, Matt Shoemaker comes off the IL tonight and should throw about 60 pitches. Nate Pearson threw 2 stimulated innings as he tries to come back from his own elbow injury. Rowdy Tellez is taking BP and jogging slowly. Jordan Romano will throw a bullpen tomorrow. Alejandro Kirk got the start behind the plate. Jonathan Davis got the start in LF with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. getting the half day off as DH. Could the Blue Jays make it two wins in a row? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Yankees took the lead in the top of the 2nd as Gio Urshela singled home Gleyber Torres
  • Home plate umpire Chad Fairchild was forced to leave the game prior to the top of the 2nd after taking a foul ball off his mask.
  • The Blue Jays tied the game in the bottom of the 3rd as  Bo Bichette singled home Alejandro Kirk
  • A batter later, Teoscar Hernandez singled scoring Cavan Biggio
  • Two batters later, Randal Grichuk singled home Bichette 
  • A batter later, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doubled home Hernandez and Grichuk
  • Michael Kirk pitching line: 2.2IP 5H 5R (all earned) 1BB 6K 65 pitches (44 for strikes)
  • Matt Shoemaker pitching line: 3IP 3H 1R (earned) 2BB 1K 54 pitches (31 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 4th as Bichette singled home Kirk
  • A batter singled home Jonathan Davis
  • A batter later, Biggio scored on a double play ground ball hit by Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
  • Two batters later, Guerrero Jr. doubled home Bichette
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 6th as Grichuk whacked a solo blast to right-center 
  • The Yankees got one back in the top of the 7th on a groundout by Urshela that scored Torres
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom half of the inning on a solo moon shot hit by Kirk to right
  • The Yankees go three back in the 9th as Mike Tauchman doubled scoring Urshela, Brett Gardner and Tyler Wade
  • Final score: Blue Jays 11 Yankees 6 

My Take:

  • Matt Shoemaker did exactly what the Blue Jays wanted him to do in his first start in a month. He threw 3 innings (54 pitches) allowing one run on three hits while walking 2 and striking out 1. The bigger question will be how he feels tomorrow. Assuming he's ok, he'll probably pitch in game 2 of the postseason (assuming the Blue Jays don't blow the final week of the season)
  • Offensively, Vlad and Alejandro Kirk had huge days at the plate. Vlad was 3-3 with a triple and 2 doubles. He also drew a walk. Kirk was 4-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle
  • TJ Zeuch was excellent in 3.1 innings, allowing just a hit and walk in his final inning when he was tiring.
  • It was another rough inning for Wilmer Font, who struggled to find the strike zone and gave up a bases clearing double. It has to be concerning to see his velocity down. Hopefully he won't need season-ending surgery too
  • Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez combined to go 4-10 with 3 runs scored and 4 RBI
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to make it three in a row against Yankees ace Gerritt Cole. The Blue Jays will counter with Tanner Roark 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Game #53 Toronto Blue Jays (27-26) @ Philadelphia Philies (27-26) - game recap

 

Taijuan Walker threw 6 strong innings to lead the Blue Jays to a 6-3 victory over the Phillies

After losing their 6th straight, the Blue Jays were looking to salvage a game in their final road game of the season and gain some momentum heading into the final week of games with the Mariners, Tigers, and Orioles all within striking distance of the final WC spot. Taijuan Walker got the start. Vlad was back in the lineup and the field after getting the day off yesterday after a scary hit by pitch that deflected off his batting helmet. Randal Grichuk got the half day off as DH with Jonathan Davis in CF. Teoscar Hernandez was back in the field after DH'ing yesterday. Could the Blue Jays snap the 6 game losing streak? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Blue Jays took the lead in the top of the 1st on a balk that scored Cavan Biggio
  • A batter later, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled scoring Bo Bichette
  • The Phillies got one back in the bottom half of the inning as Didi Gregorius doubled scoring Alec Bohm
  • Adonis Medina pitching line: 4IP 3H 2R (both earned 3BB 4K 84 pitches (51 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays added a pair of runs in the top of the 6th as Jonathan Dabis doubled home Gurriel Jr. and Joe Panik
  • Taijuan Walker pitching line: 6IP 4H 1R (earned) 2BB 8K 104 pitches (66 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays added a pair of runs in the top of the 7th as Teoscar Hernandez smashed a 2-run bomb to dead center; also scoring Bichette 
  • The Phillies got a pair back on an infield single by Bohm and subsequent throwing error by Panik that scored Roman Quinn and Rafael Marchan. Bohm was eventually thrown out at 3rd in a rundown
  • Anthony Bass threw a perfect 9th for his 6th save of the season
  • Final score: Blue Jays 6 Phillies 3

My Take:

  • The Blue Jays got a strong performance from their starting pitcher for the 2nd straight game. About 18 hours after ace Hyun-jin Ryu turned in a 6-inning gem, trade deadline acquisition Taijuan Walker followed up by throwing 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 8. He became the 1st Blue Jays pitcher to throw over 100 pitches this season. He'll be asked to do it again in a week with a potential playoff start. The Blue Jays may opt to limit his pitch count next start so he can be strong in the post-season,
  • It was a tale of essentially two lineup halves today for the Blue Jays. Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. combined to go 7-19 with 5 runs scored, 2RBI and a walk. Joe Panik, Randal Grichuk, Danny Jansen, Jonathan Davis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. were a combined 1-17 with Jonathan Davis reaching on an RBI double and a walk and Panik walking twice.
  • The Blue Jays were lucky that three errors committed weren't more costly. Taijuan Walker mishandled a comebacker in the 4th, but struck out the next 2 batters to escape the inning uinscathed. In the 7th, Vlad missed a catch to start the inning and Joe Panik later panicked and threw the ball away. The Blue Jays can't be giving up extra outs like they are
  • This win looms large with the Blue Jays having to face the Yankees 4 times followed by a desperate Orioles team battling for that final WC spot.
  • Up next, the Blue Jays start the final week of the season against what is expected to be the second place finisher in the AL East, the NY Yankees. Matt Shoemaker is expected to be activated off the IL and be goods for ~ 60 pitches. The Yankees haven't named their starter for tomorrow 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Game #52 Toronto Blue Jays (26-26) @ Philadelphia Philies (27-25) - game recap

 

Hyun-Jin Ryu threw six strong innings in a losing effort as the Phillies knocked off the Blue Jays 3-1

After a rough day yesterday, where the Blue Jays dropped both games of the double header by a combined score of 15-7, the Blue Jays were back at it today trying to snap a season-high 5 game losing streak. Santiago Espinal was optioned back to the taxi squad in favor of Patrick Murphy as the Blue Jays opted for an extra arm in the bullpen tonight. Ace Hyun-jin Ryu was on the mound and looking to give his team a fighting chance. Vlad got the full day off (not surprising after a scary hit by pitch off his batting helmet in the second game. Travis Shaw was at 1B and Teoscar Hernandez got the half day off as the DH.  Could the Blue Jays snap the five game losing streak? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the top of the 5th as Travis Shaw crushed a solo bomb to right-center 
  • The Phillies tied it up in the bottom half of the inning as Andrew Knapp singled home Jay Bruce
  • Two batters later, Andrew McCutchen singled home Knapp
  • Vince Velasquez pitching line: 6IP 2H 1R (earned) 3BB 6K 104 pitches (64 for strikes)
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu pitching line: 6IP 6H 2R (both earned) 1BB 8K 99 pitches (62 for strikes)
  • The Phillies added a run in the bottom of the 8th as Adam Haseley singled scoring Phil Gosselin
  • Tommy Hunter pitched a perfect 9th for his 1st save of the season.
  • Final score: Phillies 3 Blue Jays 1

My Take:

  • After surrendering 15 runs yesterday, Hyun-Jin Ryu and three relievers held the Philies to three runs, which on most days should give you a win. Not tonight. Ryu was pretty sharp through the first 4 innings, retiring 12 of the 14 batters, allowing an infield single, a walk and another single. The Phillies got to him in the 5th with 2 runs on 5 hits.. The Phillies added an insurance run in the 8th and it might as well have been 100-1 - the Blue Jays weren't coming back in this one
  • Aside from Travis Shaw's solo shot in the 5th, the Blue Jays only managed 4 other base runners, 3 on walks. The biggest threat the Blue Jays had to score was the 1st inning, when they had runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out, only to have Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk go down swinging
  • This might have been the worst game offensively. After the Shaw HR, 14 straight Blue Jays were out. You can see the Blue Jays have no confidence at the plate right now. Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez are still trying to get their timing back after lengthy absences on the IL, but the rest of the team has no excuse
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to salvage a game in this series before they go home for the final week of the season where they will face the Yankees and Orioles in critical series. Taijuan Walker gets the start for the Blue Jays against an unknown Phillies pitcher.

Games #50 and 51 Toronto Blue Jays (26-25) @ Philadelphia Phillies (26-25) - game recap (records reflect what they were after the second game today)

 

Teoscar Hernadez was 3-4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI in the second game of the double header in a losing effort as the Phillies took both games of the double header by scores of 7-0 and 8-7

After a thorough beatdown for three straight days at Yankee Stadium, the Blue Jays moved onto Philadelphia where they will wrap up the road portion of the schedule. Today, barring any inclement weather, was to be the final double header of the season. Toronto was the 'home" team for the 1st game. Lefty Robbie Ray got the start in the 1st game and Ross Stripling was the 1st pitcher up for the 2nd game. Alejandro Kirk was behind the plate for the 1st game and Danny Jansen got the 2nd game. Vlad was in the field for both games (shock). Cavan Biggio was DH'ing the 1st game (Bo Bichette DH'd the 2nd game after being in the field game 1. Santiago Espinal got the start at SS in game 2) and at the hot corner (Travis Shaw was there in game 1) in game 2. Jonathan Villar was at 2B game 1 and Joe Panik got the start there in game 2. Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez were the outfielders both games at their usual positions. Could the Blue Jays sweep (or at least split the double header)? Here is/are today's game recap(s)

Game Highlights (1st game):

  • The Phillies opened the scoring in the top of the 1st as Didi Gregorius doubled home Bryce Harper 
  • The Phillies added a pair of runs in the top of the 5th as Harper hammered a 2-run bomb to right; also scoring Andrew McCutchen
  • Three batters later, Phil Gosselin singled home Alec Bohm
  • Two batters later, Andrew Knapp tripled scoring Gregorius and Gosselin
  • Robbie Ray pitching line: 4.1IP 5H 5R (all earned) 4BB 6K 92 pitches (56 for strikes)
  • The Phillies added a run in the top of the 6th as Bohm singled home Roman Quinn
  • Zach Eflin pitching line: 7IP 4H 0R 2BB 9K 92 pitches (59 for strikes)
  • Final score: Phillies 7 Blue Jays 0

My Take (1st game):

  • Both starters threw 92 pitches, one being much more efficient than the other.  Take the 1st inning for example. Robbie Ray needed 30 pitches to get through the 1st and allowed a run on a double after a pair of walks. Eflin struck out the side after allowing a leadoff single to Cavan Biggio and threw half the number of pitches as Ray did. Ray retired 11 of the next 13 batters he faced after the RBI double. However, after striking out Roman Quinn, he walker McCutchen, Harper took him yard and the next 2 batters, who both eventually came around to score, hit singles off him. It's too bad about the start by Ray, because he showed a lot of promise last time out
  • Offensively, the Blue Jays (except Cavan Biggio, who reached base all three times with a pair of hits and a walk) were stymied by Phillies righty Zach Eflin. The best chance the Blue Jays had to score was in the 7th when they had runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, only to see Travis Shaw strike out to end the game
  • Is Alejandro Kirk the right backup catcher? Or should the Blue Jays give Reese McGuire another chance or go with the more experienced backstop Caleb Joseph?
  • Up next, game two of the double header. Ross Stripling starts for the Blue Jays and the Phillies will counter with righty David Hale

Game Highlights (2nd game):

  • The Phillies opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st as Didi Gregorius singled home Alec Bohm
  • The Phillies added a run in the bottom of the 3rd as Andrew McCutchen smacked a solo blast to right
  • The Blue Jays got one back n the top of the 4th as Teoscar Hernandez hammered a solo bomb down the line in left
  • Two batters later, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled home Randsl Grichuk
  • Two batters later, Santiago Espinal singled scoring Guerrero Jr.
  • Two batters later, Cavan Biggio singled home Espinal and Joe Panik
  • David Hale pitching line: 3.1IP 4H 2R (both earned) 0BB 1K 34 pitches (27 for strikes)
  • The Phillies tied the game in the bottom half of the inning as Rafael Marchan annihilated a 3-run bomb to right-center; also scoring Scott Kingery and Mickey Moniak
  • Ross Stripling pitching line: 3.1IP 4H 3R (all earned) 3BB 4K 65 pitches (36 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays retook the lead in the top of the 5th on a sac fly by Randal Grichuk that scored Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
  • Scary moment a batter later as Vlad was hit by a 94MPH fastball that deflected off the side of his batting helmet. Luckily he was ok to finish the game. We'll see how he feels tomorrow because concussion symptoms can take time to appear
  • Three batters later, Hernandez scored on a bases loaded walk by Danny Jansen
  • The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the 6th as Bryce Harper doubled home Moniak and Marchan
  • A batter later, Alec Bohm beat out an infield single. Harper scored after a terrible throw by Panik deflected off the glove of Rafael Dolis, who was forced to leave the game with knee discomfort on the play
  • Hector Neris pitched the 7th for his 5th save of the season
  • Final score: Phillies 8 Blue Jays 7

My Take (2nd game):

  • Welp, 2 games where bad pitching sunk the Blue Jays. Ross Stripling and Robbie Ray needed a combined 58 pitches to get through the 1st inning of their starts. Ray then had a rough inning in the 5th with 5 consecutive batters reaching base (Bryce Harper launched one out of the park and the 5th hit was given up by Thomas Hatch). In the second game, The bullpen was unable to hold two separate leads (Vlad didn't help on what would be the winning run, but more on that on the next point). The bullpen bending and breaking as of late is a direct result of a complete mismanagement by Charlie Montoyo, who has asked them to get at least 9, and often more outs night after night. Sure, he tried to spread out the workload as best he could, but he should have let the starters keep rolling in a few of the games, when their pitch count was still decent
  • OK, onto Vlad, who directly cost the Blue Jays the game in game 2. It was on a routine grounder that Joe Panik fielded cleanly, but for whatever reason, Vlad was running to seemingly cover second base (why he did that when Bryce Harper was either going to stay where he was or advance to 3rd on the play I have no idea), forcing Rafael Dolis to hustle over to cover 1B, forcing Panik to panic and rush the throw a bit. The ball deflected off Dolis's glove, allowing Harper to score from 2nd base. Even worse, Dolis slipped on the bag and injured his knee. If he's forced to the 10-day IL, it'll mean two closers (Ken Giles and Dolis) unavailable for the last week of the season. I'm wondering if the hit to the head Vlad took in the 5th affected his judgment.
  • Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Randal Grichuk were the only Blue Jays with hits in both games
  • The losses mean the Blue Jays were unable to take advantage of the Orioles, Tigers and Mariners all losing today. The last series of the season against the Orioles next weekend could be huge
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to snap the 5 game losing streak. They'll have ace Hyun-jin Ryu on the mound. The Phillies will counter with righty Vince Velasquez

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Game #49 Toronto Blue Jays (26-23) @ New York Yankees (29-21) - game recap

 

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was 4-4 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI in a losing effort as the Blue Jays fell to the Yankees 10-7

Afer two blowout losses to the Yankees, the Blue Jays were looking to salvage a game of this series. It was a bullpen day for the Blue Jays who sent righty Julian Merryweather out first. Jacob Waguespack was placed on the 10-day IL with a left back sprain and Hector Perez was optioned back to the taxi squad. Wilmer Font was activated from the IL and TJ Zeuch was recalled from the taxi squad. Teoscar Hernandez made his return to the lineup and was in RF. Vlad got the half day off, serving as the DH with Travis Shaw at 1B. The rest of the lineup was the same as yesterday. Could the Blue Jays salvage a game? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Yankees opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st as Giancarlo Stanton singled home DJ LeMahieu
  • A batter later, Luke Volt scored on a fielder's choice hit by Gleyber Torres 
  • Julian Merryweather pitching line: 1IP 2H 2R (both earned) 2BB 0K 21 pitches (10 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top pf the 3rd as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. cracked a solo blast to dead center 
  • Four batters later, Bo Bichette singled home Danny Jansen
  • The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 4th as Gary Sanchez doubled scoring Clint Frazier
  • A batter later, Brett Gardner smashed a 2-run bomb to dead center; also scoring Sanchez
  • A batter later, LeMahieu cranked a solo drive to right
  • A batter later, Volt lined a screamer to right-center 
  • Two batters later, Stanton cracked a solo blast to right-center 
  • A batter later, Torres cracked a solo blast to left-center
  • Both the Yankees and Blue Jays set franchise records for the most home runs hit/most home runs given up in a single inning
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top of the 5th as Gurriel Jr. lined a solo blast to right-center
  • The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 7th as Sanchez smacked a solo shot to left
  • Masahiro Tanaka pitching line: 7IP 7H 3R (all earned) 0BB 5K 91 pitches (62 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top of the  9th as Jansen singled scoring Travis Shaw
  • A batter later, Gurriel Jr. scored on a bases loaded walk by Cavan Biggio
  • A batter later, Bo Bichette singled home Joe Panik and Jansen
  • Aroldis Chapman got the final 2 outs for his 3rd save of the season
  • Final score: Yankees 10 Blue Jays 7
\My Take:

  • Today, it was two ugly innings for the Blue Jays pitchers. Julian Merryweather started off the game giving up a pair of runs on 2 hits while walking 2. Chase Anderson had a real ugly inning in the 4th, giving up 7 runs on 7 hits (including 5HR and a walk). That was pretty much the difference in this one. The Blue Jays made a valiant effort with a 9th inning rally, but it was too little too late
  • Ten days ago, the Blue Jays scored 10 runs off Chad Green and Adam Ottavino. Tonight, Ottavino held the Blue Jays to a single, that took an overturned challenge. The Blue Jays did get to Josh Holder in the 9th with 4 runs on 3 hits and a pair of walks before Aroldis Chapman came in an literally blew the door shut with 2 swinging strikeouts on returning player Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk.
  • Hernandez was 0-5 with 4 strikeouts
  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was absolutely on fire, going 4 for 4 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI
  • Up next, the Blue Jays head to Philadelphia, where they will begin the weekend series with a double header. Game 1 will see Robbie Ray starting and in game 2, Ross Stripling will get the ball to start. The Phillies have yet to name their starters for the double header tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Game #48 Toronto Blue Jays (26-22) @ New York Yankees (28-21) - game recap

Joe Panik hit a late-inning solo HR in the second consecutive blowout loss to the Yankees. Toronto fell 13-2 to the Bronx Bombers tonight


After a 20-6 blowout loss last night, the Blue Jays were looking to right the ship, taking on one of the best pitchers in the MLB, Gerritt Cole. Lots of moves ahead of this one (some necessitated by injury, some based on performance). First the bad news, Ken Giles is heading back to the IL with an elbow injury and is likely done for the season. Derek Fisher is also heading to the IL with a knee contusion after getting hit by a pitch during batting practice. Teoscar Hernandez was activated from the IL and available off the bench. Nate Pearson and Matt Shoemaker both threw to live hitters today and one or both could return soon. Hector Perez and Jacob Waguespack were also activated. Anthony Kay was optioned to the taxi squad after a rough outing last night. Tanner Roark, who made some not so nice comments after getting pulled in the 4th inning after throwing 68 pitches last start, was on the mound again. Vlad was back in the field after DH'ing last night (Joe Panik was DH tonight). Danny Jansen was back behind the plate after sitting out last night. Cavan Biggio was in RF tonight with Jonathan Villar at 2B. Could the Blue Jays rebound from last night's blow-out loss? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the 1st on a lead-off solo blast to right by DJ LeMahieu
  • The Yankees added a pair of runs in the bottom of the 3rd as Kyle Higashioka hammered a 2-run bomb to dead center; also scoring Tyler Wade
  • The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 4th as Clint Frazier whacked a solo blast to left-center 
  • Four batters later, LeMahieu smashed a 2-run bomb to right; also scoring Gary Sanchez
  • Tanner Roark pitching line: 4IP 6H 6R (all earned) 2BB 4K 91 pitches (52 for strikes)
  • The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 5th as Frazier singled home Aaron Hicks 
  • The Blue Jays  got one back in the top of the 6th on a wild pitch by Gerritt Cole that scored Jonathan Villar
  • The Yankees added a run in the bottom half of the inning as Higashioka smashed a solo blast to left
  • Four batters later, Luke Volt smashed a three-run blast to left; also scoring Le Mahieu and Hicks 
  • The Yankees added 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th as Higashioka smacked a 2-run blast to right-center; also scoring Wade
  • Gerritt Cole pitching line: 7IP 3H 1R (earned) 2BB 8K 95 pitches (64 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top of the 9th as Joe Panik whacked a solo shot to right
  • Final score: Yankees 13 Blue Jays 2

My Take:

  • Welp, Tanner Roark can't say he was pulled too early in this one. The long ball hurt him big time today. Roark allowed 4 HR, bringing in 6 runs. The Blue Jays let him throw 91 pitches today. He certainly hasn't lived up to expectations this season.
  • The Blue Jays were 0-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 6 (which would have still left them behind by 5 runs
  • Bullpen was about as bad as last night, giving up 7 runs on 8 hits, while walking 4 and striking out 4. Anthony Bass was the only reliever to have a good outing (mind you he threw only one pitch)
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to salvage a game in this series before moving onto Philadelphia. Chase Anderson gets the start against Jays killer Masahiro Tanaka

Game #47 Toronto Blue Jays (26-21) @ New York Yankees (27-21) - game recap

 

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was 3-4 with 2 runs scored and a pair of RBI in a 20-6 loss to the Yankees
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was 3-4 with 2 runs scored and 2RBI in a 20-6 loss to the Yankees

The Blue Jays opened up the final road trip of the season at Yankee stadium. Taijuan Walker got the start. Alejandro Kirk got his second career start behind the plate. Vlad got the half day off, serving as the DH, with Travis Shaw at 1B. Cavan Biggio was at the hot corner for the second straight game with Joe Panik playing 2B. Derek Fisher got the start in RF. Could the Blue Jays start the week with a win? Here is tonight's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the top of the 2nd as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lined a solo blast to right-center
  • The Yankees tied the game in the bottom half of the 2nd inning as Brett Gardner singled home Gio Urshela 
  • Two batters later, Tyler Wade singled scoring Clint Frazier 
  • A batter later, DJ LeMahieu singled home Gardner 
  • A batter later, Luke Volt smashed a 3-run bomb to left ; also scoring Wade and LeMahieu 
  • A batter later, Aaron Hicks whacked a solo blast to right
  • Taijuan Walker pitching line: 1.2IP 6H 7R (1 earned) 0BB 2K 43 pitches (28 for strikes)
  • The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 3rd as Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing in Urshela
  • A batter later, Wade was plunked by a pitch, forcing in Frazier 
  • A batter later, LeMahieu cleared the bases with a double scoring Wade, Sanchez and Gardner 
  • The Blue Jays got a pair back in the top of the 4th as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a 2-run blast to left; also scoring Guerrero Jr.
  • The Yankees added three more runs in the bottom half of the inning on a 3-run bomb to left by Sanchez; also scoring Urshela and Frazier 
  • Three batters later, Volt singled home LeMahieu
  • The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 6th as Volt smacked a solo blast to left-center 
  • The Yankees added 2 more runs in the bottom of the 7th on a 2-run bomb to right-center by Frazier; also scoring Thairo Estrada
  • Deivi Garcia pitching line: 7IP 6H 3R (all earned) 2BB 6K 88 pitches (58 for strikes)
  • The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 8th as LeMahieu whacked a solo blast to left
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top of the 9th as Panik doubled home Gurriel Jr.
  • Two batters later, Panik scored on a fielder's choice hit by Fisher 
  • Two batters later, Bo Bichette doubled home Fisher 
  • Final score: Yankees 20 Blue Jays 6

My Take:

  • What an ugly 2nd inning for Taijuan Walker and the Blue Jays, who got lit up for 7 runs (just 1 earned thanks to a missed catch by Derek Fisher) while walking none and striking out 2 
  • The next inning, 2 of the five runs were largely self-inflicted by Shun Yamaguchi, who walked the bases loaded, then hit two batters in a row, before giving up a bases clearing double
  • Santiago Espinal pitched the 8th inning, as he did 5 days ago when the Mets blew out the Blue Jays. 
  • Innings 2-4, the Yankees sent 29 batters to the plate and scored 16 runs on 11 hits, a horrible fielding error by Derek Fisher, 2 hit batters, 4 walks (and 2 more walks after the 16th run had scored). And the damage could have been even worse with a runner stranded on 2nd base in the 3rd inning and the bases left loaded in the 4th inning
  • Ken Giles' 2nd appearance went slightly better. Although he gave up a HR on the 3rd pitch (he gave up a HR Friday on his first pitch coming off the IL), he had a strikeout and needed just 8 pitches to get through the inning
  • Vladimir Guerrero and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. combined for half the offence tonight (6-9 with 4 runs scored and 3RBI)
  • The Blue Jays left 8 runners on base, which would have still left them trailing by 6 had they cashed in all 8
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to even the series and back into a tie for 2nd in the AL East. They will be  in tough with 2019 Cy Young finalist Gerritt Cole on the bump for the Yankees. The Blue Jays will counter with Tanner Roark 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Ten random thoughts- August 10-September 11

 


It's been a month since I last posted a weekly random thoughts post. Normally, I would provide updates on each post with with each individual game. This time I will take a broader view of the last month and go series by series. The middle of the month started with a two split of series with the Miami Marlins, including a 14-11 loss. Then the Blue Jays routed the Tampa Bay Rays before the Rays edged the Blue Jays in the next 2 games. The Blue Jays then went on a bit of a run winning the next six games, including sweeps over the Orioles and the Phillies (a one day double header). The Blue Jays then dropped two of the next three games. On August 23rd the blue Jays  acquired Daniel Vogelbach from the Seattle Mariners. Vogelbach only lasted four games, in which he came in as a pinch-hitter before being DFA'd and picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers. Toronto was supposed to have embarked on 30 game in 29 game stretch starting August 14th however, the Blue Jays and Red Sox postponed their game on August 27th in protest of the shooting in Wisconsin. This was in collaboration with NBA, and NHL who also postponed their games for a couple of days. August 27th was also the day that the Blue Jays acquired Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners. Walker made his Blue Jays debut on the 29th, firing six shutout innings. Two days later, the Blue Jays acquired three more players: Jonathan Villar, Robbie Ray, and Ross Stripling. Since the trade deadline the Blue Jays split the two games in Miami, won 3 of 5 against Boston in a rare series, thanks to a doubleheader, which the two teams split. They then came home to Buffalo and took two or three from the Yankees, then got blown out in the opener against the Mets 18 to 1, and beat them the next night. In the rubber match on Sunday, the Blue Jays responded with a pair of runs in the 2nd inning after the Mets took the lead in the 1st inning, before breaking the game open with a s-spot in the 6th. Hyun-Jin Ryu was solid in 6 innings. Looking ahead, the blue Jays embark on their final road trip of the season after a final off-day Monday with series in New York and Philadelphia, where they will play a doubleheader to start the series on Friday. Blue Jays then end the regular season with a key series against the Yankees that will go a long way to deciding who wins second place in the AL East. The Blue Jays end the regular season with a weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles who are 4.5 games back of a wild card spot. Here are 10 random thoughts from the last month of the MLB.

1. First off, the MLB has to be commended for largely making it the pandemic to date. Unlike the NHL and NBA, the MLB chose to forgo using a bubble to isolate teams in a few cities. Instead, the MLB combined regional divisions (AL east teams played NL east teams (as well as the teams in their own division) and AL Central teams played NL Central teams (plus the teams in their own division) and AL West teams played NL West teams (on top of the teams in their own division). This meant that teams were flying from city to city. Also, teams were living out of their regular homes and not staying in a hotel. Right off the bat, the MLB saw a major setback when virtually the entire Miami Marlins team (20 players and staff when the dust settled) were infected with the COVID-19 virus. Because the Marlins and Phillies voted to play on the first Sunday of the season when they knew that four players on the Marlins had already positive for COVID-19, the MLB was forced to cancel the schedules of the Phillies and Marlins for an entire week, affecting the schedules of 7 teams. Since then, St Louis Cardinals also an outbreak of COVID-19 and had a week's worth of games postponed. Cleveland Indians pitchers Mike Clevenger (he would later be traded to San Diego at the trade deadline after relationships with the Cleveland Indians soured following the incident) and Adam Plesac were sent home after violating team protocol on a road trip to Chicago. The vast majority of teams have done extremely well with their conduct both on and off the field and that is why baseball is still being played. The MLB is wrapping up negotiations with the MLBPA on the terms with which the playoffs will be played. At this point, it looks like for the first round, teams will play all three games at the home field of the higher-seeded team. Then for the next rounds until the World Series, teams will play either in the home ball parks of the San Diego Padres or LA  Dodgers if they are an AL team or the home ball parks of the Houston Astros or Texas Rangers if they are an NL team. The home ball park of the LA Angels is also being considered as one of the stadiums. Contending teams will start to quarantine in hotels during the final week of the regular season. I like that the MLB is taking away home field advantage the Astros Dodgers, padres and Rangers. 

2. No doubt the MLB will be watching NFL fairs with their COVID-19 protocol. The NFL is using a similar strategy for playing their season as the MLB has done. The difference is, the NFL is going to allow fans at some of their games. Some of the NFL teams are waiting at least a week or two before allowing fans in. One thing to keep in mind is football is a much more physical sport than baseball and there is less physical distancing in football, especially at the start of plays. Like the MLB, the NFL plays most of their games in outdoor stadiums with a few domed arenas. That may affect the ability of the virus to spread.

3. Ok, let's get back to baseball. As one might expect, the Blue Jays had to adjust to several injuries. Closer Ken Giles missed almost 6 weeks with a strained forearm before returning this weekend. Bo Bichette also missed considerable time after injuring his knee stretching out before and at bat, and he made his return on Saturday. More recently, Rowdy Tellez (strained knee tendon) and Teoscar Hernandez (oblique injury) were placed on the injured list. Trent Thornton missed 10 days with a forearm strain, came back for one game, before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow. Highly-touted pitching Prospect Nate Pearson has also missed time with in his pitching elbow. He's getting close to a return, but his role will change, as he'll be pitching out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season. Reliever Jordan Romano strained a tendon in his pitching finger. Matt Shoemaker, who was arguably the most consistent starter rotation this season, went down with a strained shoulder the same weekend as Thornton did with his elbow. It must have been frustrating for Shoemaker, who missed almost the entire 2019 season after tearing his ACL in his 5th start in a Blue Jays uniform. Finally, Wilmer Font is also on the injured list with an undisclosed injury. The Blue Jays have been smart juggling players around the lineup and in different positions to be ready to jump in if a player got hurt. Take Cavan Biggio, for example. His natural position is second base. However, he can also be used in right field or center fielder should Randal Grichuk need a day off. He even played at the hot corner for the first time Sunday. Travis Shaw Jonathan Villar, and Joe Panik can all play (and have played) multiple positions in the infield. this is a great luxury to have so much flexibility when it comes to making defensive substitutions late in games when the Blue Jays are leading, or in the event of injuries. 

4. Starter Tanner Roark was livid after he was taken out of the game after throwing 68 pitches through four Innings on Wednesday. All season, Charlie Montoyo has been  leaning towards giving pitchers the early hook as they near the 90 pitch threshold. This has put a lot of pressure on the bullpen, which on most nights has had to get at least 16 outs, if not more. the Blue Jays have been deploying an eight-man bullpen, and making roster changes as needed when pitchers aren't going to be available for at least a game due to having thrown a lot of pitches the past game or two. So far this season,  26 pitchers have thrown at least one inning for the Blue Jays. Rafael Dolis, who got his 6th save of the season Saturday, and Anthony Bass both made their 21st appearances of the season on Saturday and Dolis pitched Sunday to make it 22 appearances this season. Tim Mayza who blew out his elbow after being overused in 2019, is a tale of caution for overusing the bullpen. Many of the Blue Jays relievers are known to throw hard, and thus could be at a greater risk of getting injured. Ryan Borucki has already undergone Tommy John surgery, and had a similar elbow surgery that Thornton just had to remove loose bodies last year. The season could potentially go another six weeks if the Blue Jays make the world series.  They need the starters to start going deeper in games.

5. Another major issue for the Blue Jays has been base-running follies. As of September 3rd the Blue Jays had made 18 outs due to base running mistakes. Whether it be trying to stretch a single into a double, running through a stop sign in an attempt to score, or getting thrown out trying to steal a base, you have to pick your spots and be smart. When it comes to the playoffs, every scoring opportunity counts, and if the Blue Jays run themselves out of rallies, they will find themselves being eliminated rather quickly. Jonathan Villar has been guilty of a few of these running mistakes, and was nearly picked off first base in the 8th inning Saturday. Speaking of pick offs, the Blue Jays had been picked off five times as of September 3rd, with only the Marlins and Padres faring worse in that stat. the Blue Jays best spend the final off day of the season doing a lot of base running drills.

6. A huge part of baseball is executing the fundamentals and making the plays you should be making. Again, as of September 3rd, the Blue Jays had committed 20 errors (which was middle of the pack), but were minus-22 in defensive runs saves, which was among the worst in the league. Twelve different players have committed at least one error this season. Jonathan Villar (4 errors) has the most on the team, and he's only been on the Blue Jays for two weeks. You have to wonder if having players playing multiple positions is really such a good strategy, as opposed to having players play their natural positions every day, with the occasional day off, or until injuries arise. Further, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is supposed to be learning a new position (1B) and yet, he's playing every other game as the DH. Is it punishment for not following his strength and conditioning program?Are the Blue Jays trying to keep Guerrero Jr. from getting injured by limiting his time in the field? Whatever the reason, the Blue Jays should be playing Vlad in the field daily so he can learn his new position faster. Now that Tellez is out with an injury, maybe that will happen.

7. The Blue Jays have been playing musical chairs recently when it comes to the backup catcher. Danny Jansen has established himself as the clear number one catcher that will play the majority of games. He's been solid defensively and worked well with the pitchers. Reese McGuire was initially supposed to be the backup, playing 2 or 3 times a week. However, he's had a terrible time offensively, with just 3 hits in 41AB. McGuire was optioned to the taxi squad after making a terrible throw to third base when the bases were already loaded. The Blue Jays then recalled Caleb Joseph, who got into 3 games (2 starts) before being DFA'd. Joseph was 1-8 at the plate with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI, including a HR. Defensively, Joseph was 0-4 when trying to throw out base runners, had a passed ball and wild pitch when he was behind the plate. Top catching prospect Alejandro Kirk was recalled Friday and made his big league debut Saturday, catching lefty Robbie Ray. Offensively, Kirk was 1-3 with a run scored and a walk. The 9th inning was a bit of an adventure for him with a runner reaching on what should have been the last out of the game after the ball bounced to the back stop. On the next pitch, the ball deflected off Kirk again, but he managed to keep the ball close enough to keep the runner from advancing. It will be interesting to see who the Blue Jays decide to use in the final two weeks of the season. Will they stick with Kirk? Will Reese McGuire be given another chance?

8. I do want to touch a bit on the protests by teams August 26-28 in the NBA, NHL (only the 27-28), NFL (no games scheduled but teams opted to skip practices), and MLB (8 teams boycotted on the 26th and 14 teams boycotted on the 27th). I thought it was interesting that some teams in the MLB chose not to join the boycott. The MLB and it's players should have more of a vested interest in protesting given the history of black baseball players. Before Jackie Robinson, blacks weren't even allowed to play in the majors. There was a lot of backlash online about the players choosing to boycott the games with many saying that sports and politics should be separate. However, these athletes live and work in the communities where the shootings are taking place the majority of the year. The victims of these shooting are their friends and neighbors. The shooting victims have probably watched these athletes perform and even attended games live. Some of the victims may have even been lucky enough to meet some of the athletes and even get their autographs. I'm not going to get into the events that triggered the boycott. However, there's only so much the athletes can do to show their support for the BLM movement. They have knelt during anthems, NBA players have worn approved slogans on their backs instead of their last names, baseball has a stenciled logo supporting BLM on the mounds this season, athletes can wear patches on their jerseys. This time, they felt they needed to send a stronger message by sitting out a game. Will there be no more shootings because of this boycott? No, but the boycott got/kept the conversation going and forced people to step away from their TVs and address what's going on in the world. There will absolutely be fans that stop watching these sports because of this boycott, but the sports will play on and thrive without the ignorant fans that choose not to tune in because the athletes chose to have a voice.

9. Finally, with the sprint of a season about to wrap up, it's time to consider the awards for this season. I don't see how the MLB can really award an MVP, Cy Young winner or rookie of the year winner, because there just weren't enough games played to really weed out the top players. Take the Cy Young for example, can you really judge a starting pitcher after just 10-15 starts? I would honestly be inclined to award the Cy Young to a reliever this season, because they've been having to pick up the slack on a lot of nights with pitchers having to build up pitch counts after a really quick summer training camp and one or two exhibition games. For the batting title, you're judging on ~250AB. Generally, pitchers are ahead of hitters at the start of the season, and it might have taken a quarter of the season for some hitters to heat up. No, this year's awards should come with an asterisk.

10. Blue Jay of the week: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. He robbed two Mets of extra base hits on Saturday and Sunday and had a couple of clutch base hits. Gurriel Jr. has also been one of the more consistent Blue Jays hitters this season.