Monday, July 31, 2023

Game #107 - Baltimore Orioles (65-41) @ Toronto Blue Jays (59-48) - game recap


Whit Merrifield hit a solo HR in a losing effort as the Orioles doubled up on the Blue Jays 4-2

After dropping yesterday's series finale to the Angels, the Blue Jays were looking to start the week with a win against their division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles, who have won 5 of the 6 meetings in the season series this far, outscoring the Blue Jays 36-21. Jordan Hicks,  acquired in a trade with the Cardinals for a pair of minor league righties, reported to the team and was active.  Mitch White was. DFA'd to make room on the roster.  White finishes his brief Blue Jays career with an 0-6 record and a 7.60 ERA in 20 appearances (6 starts. Jay Jackson was placed on the family emergency list. Bowden Francis was recalled from AAA- ball Chris Bassitt got the start with Alejandro Kirk behind the plate. George Springer got the compete day off with Cavan Biggio in RF.  Kevin Kiermaier was in CF and Daulton Varsho was in LF. Whit Merrifield got the start at 2B. Brandon Belt served as DH. Could the Blue Jays start the week with a win? Here is tonight's game recap. 

Game Highlights:

  • The Orioles opened the scoring in the top of the 1st as Ryan Mountcastle doubled scoring Anthony Santander and Ryan O'Hearn
  • The Orioles added a run in the top of the 3rd as Gunnar Henderson whacked a solo blast to right-center and into the Orioles bullpen
  • Three batters later, Santander scored on a sac fly by Mountcastle
  • Bo Bichette left the game in the bottom of the 3rd after grabbing his knee while running from first to second on what should have been a double
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the bottom of the 5th on a fielder's choice hit by Kevin Kiermaier that scored Daulton Varsho
  • Chris Bassitt pitching line: 7H 4R (all earned) 2BB 7K 113 pitches (71 for strikes)
  • Kyle Gibson pitching line: 6IP 4H 1R (earned) 2BB 5K 97 pitches (60 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the bottom of the 8th as Whit Merrifield smacked a solo blast to left
  • Felix Bautista got the last 5 outs for his 29th save of the season
  • Final score: Orioles 4 Blue Jays 2

My Take:

  • Chris Bassitt battled through 6 innings, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7. The most telling stat was John Schneider letting Chris Bassitt pitch that extra inning. The Blue Jays are still in the early days of a stretch of 17 games in 17 days. There is much uncertainty with the expected starters the next 2 days with Hyun-Jin Ryu coming off the IL to make his first start since Tommy John surgery.  Then Yusei Kikuchi is slated to start and he can be iffy at times.  Nonetheless, the bullpen has been overworked so the Blue Jays needed Bassitt to dig a little deeper and give them an extra inning. 
  • The bullpen did its job tonight, holding the Orioles to a hit and a walk while striking out 4 over the final 3 innings. Bowden Francis went two innings so most of the bullpen should be fresh and ready to go tomorrow with no one knowing how far Ryu will be able to go in his first start back from Tommy John surgery. No question he will be on a strict pitch count and the Blue Jays won't hesitate to pull him if things go south
  • The bigger concern is Bo Bichette and his knee. This will be the biggest test for the Blue Jays, who have largely avoided injuries to the key players thus far,  other than closer Jordan Romano, who had his back tighten up on him at the all star game while warming up to come into the game, and Vlad missing a few games with a sore wrist (not consecutively). Bichette will certainly be getting an MRI tomorrow and worst case scenario would be a season ending ACL tear (very possible with the way the injury occurred). In his absence,  Santiago Espinal will be the SS, although the Blue Jays could try and acquire Tim Anderson should Bichette have actually torn his ACL. The loss of Bichette for any length of time will be tough for the team to overcome,  especially since Bichette has been arguably the best offensive player in the Blue Jays lineup this season. Here's hoping the injury isn't too bad. 
  • The inability to drive in runners in scoring position cost the Blue Jays another game. In the 7th,  8th and 8th innings, the Blue Jays had runners on first and second with one out and could not drive a runner home.  Whit Merrifield was robbed of an extra base hit by a great catch by left fielder Austin Hays, four Blue Jays batters struck out and Alejandro Kirk popped out.  The Blue Jays were an abysmal 0-10 with runners in scoring position. I'm sorry but this cannot continue.
  • The Blue jays are now a brutal 7-21 against the AL East and that could be a big factor if the Blue Jays miss the playoffs. They have just one win against the Orioles and Red Sox combined. They have yet to beat either team at the Roger's center. 
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to snap the two game skid and beat the Orioles on their home turf for the first time this season. As mentioned,  Hyun-Jin Ryu will be coming off the IL to make his season debut and first start since Tommy John surgery back on June 18, 2022. The Orioles will counter with righty Kyle Bradish