WP: R.A. Dickey – 7.0IP, 2H, 2ER, 6K, 3BB
LP: Jeremy Hellickson – 3.1IP, 8H, 5ER, 2BB, 2K
The Toronto Blue Jays started the month of September on the right foot on Tuesday night, with an 8-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays. Starter R.A. Dickey featured an electric knuckleball on the night, holding the Rays to just two hits while guiding his club to their third straight victory.
The Blue Jays batters returned again to the patient approach that has served them so well over parts of this season. When faced with adversity, the abandonment of this approach is often what causes the offence to go dormant. The Blue Jays forced Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson to throw 87 pitches through just 3.1 innings as they appeared intent on hitting the right pitch, not just the first pitch.
Danny Valencia got the Blue Jays started with a home run deep to left in the top of the 2nd inning. Coming off of the right-handed Hellickson, this is an encouraging sign that Valencia could be shaking his label as a platoon player.
After handing the lead back to the Rays in the bottom of the inning, Jose Bautista would pull the Blue Jays back even with an RBI infield single in the 3rd. The Blue Jays would load the bases with none out in that inning, but a ground ball to the pitcher from Adam Lind would result in a double-play and wasted opportunity.
The deciding blow of the game came off the hot bat of Jose Reyes, with a 3-run home run in the top of the 4th. Josh Thole and Kevin Pillar had both reached base ahead of Reyes with infield singles. Pillar’s was particularly impressive as he used his underrated speed to burn down the first base line and beat out the throw.
Insurance came of the bat of Ryan Goins in the 8th, with a long triple over the head of the centre fielder. Goins has shown the odd flash of extra-base power in 2014, which the Blue Jays will hope to see develop further through September. Dioner Navarro then tacked on a two-run, pinch-hit bomb to left field, leaving John Gibbons looking like a genius (at least for the night).
Aaron Sanchez followed Dickey out of the pen in the 8th and pitched flawlessly, then gave way to Todd Redmond who pitched a clean 9th to close out the ball game. In a game where the Blue Jays outhit the Rays 11-2, everything seemed to go right for Toronto on Tuesday night. The Jays will need an encore of May if they hope to revive their playoff hopes, and step one has pointed them in the right direction.
MVJ: Jose Reyes. After seeing 9 pitches in his first AB of the night, Reyes singled his next time up and delivered the big bang in the top of the 4th. Reyes’ 3-run home run ignited the Blue Jays one inning after failing to convert with the bases loaded and none out. If the Blue Jays are to make any sort of run, the top of the lineup will need to catch fire. This starts with Jose Reyes.
A tip of the cap also goes to Edwin Encarnacion, who walked four times on Tuesday night, giving way to pinch-runner Dalton Pompey as he made his MLB debut in the 9th. If this is a sign that Edwin is starting to see the ball well, the power could be coming close behind.
Tomorrow’s Probable Starters:
TOR: Marcus Stroman (8-5, 3.88 ERA)
TB: Chris Archer (8-7, 3.40 ERA)