The truly beautiful thing about baseball is that no matter how badly you perform on a given day, there is always another opportunity tomorrow. And, for the Toronto Blue Jays (12-15), tomorrow (or, today, as it were), and another shot at the Texas Rangers (15-11), could not come quickly enough.
The Jays once again got a stellar effort from their starting pitching, only to see their offence fail to show up, again. The once vaunted Blue Jays offence managed just seven hits and a single run in a 2-1 loss. The top five in the Jays order went a combined 2-17 with three walks.
Meanwhile, R.A Dickey pitched a solid game going 6.1 innings allowing just one earned run only to see no run support and Gavin Floyd allow a leadoff homerun in the 7th to give Rangers the lead.
But, it’s a new day.
Marco Estrada (1-2 with a 2.92 ERA) goes to the mound for the Jays. The Rangers counter with Martin Perez (1-2 with a 4.20 ERA).
It didn’t take long, just three pitches, for the games first runs to be scored as Rougned Odor took Estrada deep for a leadoff homerun. He’d settle down afterward getting a couple groundouts and a fly out, but the Rangers had an early lead.
The Jays offence threatened to make some noise in the bottom half after two singles brought up Jose Bautista to the plate but he would ground into a double play and Troy Tulowitzki, after an Encarnacion walk, would fly out to end the inning.
The Rangers threatened again in second but the Jays caught a little bit of a break when a ball off the bat of Brett Nicholas landed between Kevin Pillar and Michael Saundersbut also bounce over the wall for a ground-rule double. This prevented Mitch Moreland, who had walked earlier in the inning, from scoring from first on the play.
Estrada got Delino DeShields to weakly dribble a ball back to the mound to end the inning, escaping danger.
And then NOTHING happened.
It’s not that the team wasn’t scoring runs, but that nothing was happening. In truth, if you missed the game, you still probably had a better time than those who watched the first five innings. Sure, both teams had some base runners. The Jays even had two on with two out for Josh Donaldson in the 5th and he missed a homer by about two feet, and then struck out to end the inning.
Come the end of the fifth inning neither team had scored any more runs. Neither had really threatened to do much damage (minus the 5th inning “rally” by the Jays), and both pitchers had been enjoying relatively easy outings.
The most fiercely discussed conversation in chat was the upcoming U.S Presidential Election. And, it was at this point I strongly considered flicking to the Raptors vs. Heat game, or Tampa vs, New York Islanders. Maybe flick to the Dodgers game, or start Supernatural on Netflix.
But, professionalism, dammit! I stuck to it!
On the plus side of tonight’s game, both Russell Martin and Tulowitzki had hits. So, positive results!
Martin Perez’s night ended entering the 6th. He went 5 Innings, allowed no runs on 4 Hits, striking out 4 and walking 3 on 90 pitches. Tom Wilhelmsen came in to relieve him for the bottom of the 6th.
As for Estrada, his night came to a close after six innings. He went 6, allowing the one run on 2 hits, and had 3 K’s and a single walk. He left after just 88 pitches and in-line for the loss. Jesse Chavez came into the game in relief.
In the seventh Jake Diekman entered the game for the Rangers, promptly hit Kevin Pillar and walked Russell Martin, giving the Jays two on and no one out. Darwin Barney tried to bunt on what was strike one and two before battling the count full fouling off pitches and showing a very good eye and discipline. On the 15th pitch of the AB Barney would strike out looking. Was still a fun AB, at least… Michael Saunders struck out, leaving Josh Donaldson, again, with two runners on and two out.
Tony Barnette entered the game to face the 2015 AL MVP and while Donaldson hit the ball fairly hard, it would not manage to find space in the outfield and would go simply as a heartbreaking out number three.
Brett Cecil took over for Chavez after he recorded the first out in the either, and then allowed Odor and Nomar Mazara to reach base on a pair of singles leading to Gibby turning to Roberto Osuna with one out in the 8th.
Adrian Beltre popped a ball up in the very difficult space in shallow right field between outfielder Jose Bautista and the infield but Barney managed to make up ground making a very difficult over-the-shoulder catch, turned and fired a strike to third catching Odor trying to tag up on the play for a very impressive second and third out of the inning.
Sam Dyson, once again, came in to face Jose Bautista in the home half of the 8th inning and got him to fly out on just one pitch. Encarnacion grounded out and Tulo K’d to end the inning taking this game to the ninth.
Inexplicably, Joseph Biagini would come in for Osuna to start the ninth. Seems weird that Gibby would bring in Osuna trying to keep the game close, but then take him out in the ninth in favour of a guy near the bottom of the bullpen depth-chart.
Prince Fielder doubled to lead off the inning before being pulled for a pinch-runner. Ian Desmond singled to right just out of the reach of a diving Bautista who appeared to hurt himself on the play. He stayed in the game but keep this in mind of later. He was definitely feeling discomfort in his right shoulder/upper back area.
Mitch Moreland ripped a ball on the ground to Barney who would fire it home and get the runner trying to score keeping the game 1-0 but giving the Rangers runners on 1st and 2nd for Elvis Andrus, who Biagini would K. He’d go on to Nicholas to ground out weakly to second. So, it worked out fine, but was still a questionable decision in my mind.
Shawn Tolleson came in to close this game and FINALLY, after over three hours of baseball, something interesting happened. Justin Smoak, who hadn’t hit a homerun so far this season, heroically smashed his first in dramatic fashion, over the left field wall, to tie the game up at one. Opposite field variety, for what it’s worth. Tie game!
Kevin Pillar hit one off the wall in left for a double putting the potential winning run in scoring position. Martin K’d, Ezequiel Carrera (pinch hitting for Barney) walked on four straight pitches to bring Michael Saunders to the plate. He’d end up striking out, then Josh Donaldson walked, leaving Jose Bautista to come up with the bases loaded, 2-out, in the bottom of the ninth.
Unfortunately, he’d fly out to end the inning. Little anti-climactic, but Smoak had already done the dirty work for the team.
1-1 after 9 Innings!
So, this boring game, that got a little exciting after three hours of playing, decided to go into extra innings. It had all the makings of a four-hour snoozefest that ends on some ridiculous play (a balk) or something like a sac-fly, a testament to it’s boring nature. Except, it was at this point, somewhere in the three and a half hour range, that the game finally got interesting.
Phil Klein came out of the pen for the Rangers in the bottom of the 10th (but, Mike… what happened in the top of the 10th? Good defence, my friends. And a 1-2-3 inning for Biagini), the Rangers’ 7th pitcher of the evening, set to face Encarnacion, Tulowitzki, and Smoak.
Encarnacion singled on a hard hit ball to left. Tulo struck out on a two-seam fastball, bringing up the Jays big 1B. The only remaining member of the 1B vs. 1B debate, fresh off his game tying HR in his previos AB. And then, when I’d thought I’d seen everything baseball had to offer me, JUSTIN SMOAK BLASTS A BALL TO LEFT FIELD AHHAHAAAAAA!!!! Oh… uh… sorry, I mean, Justin Smoak smashed a ball to left field for his second homerun of the night, in consecutive plate appearances, in consecutive innings, to give the Jays a 3-1 win!
JAYS WIN 3-1!
via Mike Hannah, SB Nation | photo USA Today
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