Sunday, August 27, 2023

Game #131 - Cleveland Guardians (62-69) @ Toronto Blue Jays (71-60) - game recap


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. became the first Blue Jay to reach 20 HR this season in a losing effort as the Guardians came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 10-7 in 11 innings

After a solid win yesterday thanks to rookie phenom Davis Schneider leading the charge offensively and a solid start from Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Blue Jays were going for their 2nd straight win, 24th series win and 14th season series win of the season. Erik Swanson was placed on the 15-day IL with thoracic spine inflammation and Jay Jackson was recalled from AAA- ball.  Yusei Kikuchi got the start with Danny Jansen behind the plate. Bo Bichette was back in the field after DH'ing yesterday. Vlad got the half day off as DH with Brandon Belt at 1B. Davis Schneider was in LF and Cavan Biggio got the start at 2B. Could the Blue Jays make it two straight wins and botch their 24th series win and 14th season series win of the season? Here is today's game recap. 

Game Highlights:

  • The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 1st as Vladimir Guerrero Jr hammered a 2-run bomb to the second deck in left; also scoring Brandon Belt. Guerrero Jr is the first Blue Jay to crack the 20HR plateau this season. 
  • The Guardians tied the game in the top of the 3rd as Jose Ramirez bashed a 2-run run blast to left; also scoring Steven Kwan
  • The Guardians retook the lead in the top of the 4th as Tyler Freeman singled scoring Kole Calhoun 
  • Two batters later, Myles Straw singled home Ramon Laureano
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the bottom half of the inning as George Springer whacked a solo blast to left-center
  • Bo Bichette was removed from the game after the 6th inning with right quad tightness. You can bet the team will be very cautious with him and put him on the IL if necessary
  • The Blue jays retook the lead in the bottom of the 6th as Davis Schneider whacked a 2-run jack to left; also scoring Springer
  • May Chapman left the game in the bottom of the 6th with right middle finger inflammation
  • Yusei Kikuchi pitching line: 6IP 6H 4R (all earned) 2BB 8K 95 pitches (61 for strikes)
  • The Guardians took retook the lead in the top of the 8th as Andre Gimenez double scoring Calhoun and Laureano
  • The Blue Jays tied it up in the bottom half of the inning as Daulton Varsho singled scoring Kevin Kiermaier
  • The Guardians took the lead in the top of the 11th as Calhoun doubled scoring Straw and Ramirez 
  • A batter later, Laureano drilled a 2-run jack to left-center and into the Blue Jays bullpen; also scoring Calhoun
  • The Blue jays got one back in the bottom half of the inning on a sac fly by Whit Merrifield that scored Kiermaier 
  • Final score: Guardians 10 Blue Jays 7

My Take:

  • Yusei Kikuchi battled through 6 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 8. He got through the 1st inning efficiently,  but after that his command went on him and the Guardians starting hitting the cover off the ball. It was one of those games every pitcher encounters where Kikuchi did not have his best stuff and as a result he gave up 4 runs. At least his next opponent on passport should be easier in the mile high city next weekend. 
  • The bullpen had a rough day, allowing 6 runs on 6 hits while walking 4 and striking out 6. Two normally reliable relievers,  Tim Mayza and Jay Jackson had bad days.  Mayza did not record an out and gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk. Jay Jackson, after an intentional walk and wild pitch, gave up two run double and then made a bad pitch that went into the Blue Jays bullpen. Jordan Romano and Yimi Garcia were both excellent. Romano threw 1.2 innings, got out of the mess created by Mayza striking out two batters.  He nearly made it through the 9th inning too, but ran out of gas. Yimi Garcia retired every batter he faced and struck out three.  The Blue jays could make a move for a fresh arm tomorrow. 
  • Oh boy,  the Blue Jays lost two key players to injury with Bichette leaving with right quad soreness and Matt Chapman leaving with a recurrence of the inflammation to his right middle finger. It's possible one or both players could wind up on the IL.  Bichette is too important a player for the Blue Jays to take any chances of him playing hurt. With Chapman, the Blue Jays may want to just nip this finger injury in the bud. It's unfortunate that they let Paul DeJong go when Bichette returns from his knee injury.  The team could use his veteran presence. Expect Santiago Espinal to play shortstop and Cavan Biggio to get reps and hot corner. Whit Merrifield and Davis Schneider will likely platoon at 2B. Here's hoping neither Bichette nor Chapman are out too long. 
  • Offensively,  I liked how the Blue Jays bats responded today. Vlad finally cracked the elusive 20 hr plateau, becoming the first Blue Jay to reach the milestone this season.  George Springer and Davis Schneider also both went yard. Schneider was the catalyst to the game tying run with a clutch double. Daulton Varsho would later bring pinch runner Kevin Kiermaier home with a single
  • This game was really lost, once again, on the chronic inability to drive in runners in scoring position. In the 9th inning, Cavan Biggio made a bad bunt and baserunner Danny Jansen was thrown out at 3rd base. Santiago Espinal then grounded into an inning ending double play. In the 10th inning,  Brandon Belt struck out swinging,  Vlad popped out and after Springer was intentionally walked Kiermaier grounded out to end the threat. While the Blue Jays were able to get one run off Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase in the 11th inning, he was able to dig deep and get two huge strikeouts to finally mercifully end the game
  • In terms of the wild card race,  the Blue Jays lost a game to the Astros, who won big, (they are now 2.5 games back of the last WC spot) and the Mariners, who held off a late rally by the Royals and are now in full possession of 1st in the AL west. Meanwhile, the Rangers lost a marathon 13 inning game to the Twins after reliever Jonathan Hernandez issued the straight walks with 2 outs.  The Blue jays face them September 11-14 at the rivers center in what is shaking up to be a massive series. The Dodgers did the Blue Jays a favor by defeating the Red Sox to keep the Red Sox two games back of the Blue Jays. The Red Sox come to Toronto to wrap up the season series September 15-17.
  • Up next, the Blue Jays welcome the Washington Nationals to Toronto for the time since 2021, when the Nationals took three of four in the season series, outscoring the Blue Jays 33-22. While Washington is one of the weaker teams in the MLB, they will no doubt relish playing the role of spoiler, so the Blue Jays better not take them lightly. Kevin Gausman starts against Nationals righty Josiah Gray.