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.