Game Recap: Blue Jays drop another close one to the Rays


After a tough loss to the Rays last night, the Blue Jays were looking for a strong bounce back performance. They especially needed the bats to show up—they didn’t. The Jays offence failed for the second night in a row to take advantage of a severely injury depleted Rays pitching staff.

Daniel Norris struggled early and never got into much of a rhythm apart from a strong 4th inning. In spite of this, he did manage to limit the damage to two runs. His command was shaky and seemed to catch Martin by surprise frequently. The strike zone seemed wonky at times but Norris was often missing by more than mere inches. Norris let up a monster home run to Steven Souza Jr and had trouble keeping the ball on the ground. Seven outs came via fly outs, some of them deep, and only two from ground outs. The other run came in the 2nd after a hit batter, a walk, a steal, and a sac fly by Tim Beckham.

Liam Hendriks took over for Norris and threw a solid 1.2 IP of relief with 2 K. Closer (?) Miguel Castro entered the game with 2 outs in the 7th, threw one pitch and elicited a line out to LF. Castro came back out for the 8th. Souza lead off with a perfect bunt single. Castro made the next batter look utterly foolish with a strikeout. Souza then stole 2nd and proceeded to third on the errant throw. The Jays then handed an intentional pass to Evan Longoria. A sac fly by Jennings then brought Souza home. Castro then struck out Rene Rivera

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Colt Hynes came out to pitch the 9th. He struck out the first two batters, let up two weak singles and then got Asdrubal Cabrera to ground out to third.

Getting his first start in the Majors, Matt Andriese stymied the Jays batters for three innings. In the fourth, the Jays managed to put two runs together. Kevin Pillar singled home Josh Donaldson and Jose Reyes continued his hot streak at the plate by doubling home Dioner Navarro. On Reyes’ double, Devon Travis was held up at third but likely had a good chance to score.

Andriese was pulled in spite of his solid work as he was spot starting and hadn’t really been stretched out. Kirby Yates threw 2 innings of relief and had 2 Ks. Steve Geltz pitched 1.1 innings and Grant Balfour continued to silence Jays bats with a clean 8th. Kevin Jepsen came out for the ninth and got the save. He got some huge assists from his defence. Longoria made a great play on Pillar and Kiermaier robbed Devon Travis at the wall with an amazing catch (the last few sentences were typed through gritted teeth).

Out of the 5 runs the Rays have scored this series, they’ve deserved only about one and yet they win both games. Baseball is cruel sometimes. The Jays can still even up this series. The first step is to wrest a win away from the pesky Rays tomorrow night when Mark Buehrle takes the hill.

39. Final. 3. 21. 2

Game Notes:

– Turf, turf, turf, turf. It was a pervasive topic all night. Occasionally it worked in the Jays’ favour and other times it was a detriment. The turf seemed to help Jose Reyes make a great diving play in the 2nd (a play that saved a run a least). However, in the 4th, there were a few balls hit by the Jays that likely would have reached the fence last year. Could have cost them one or more runs.

– The bottom of the order continues to be effective. Kevin Pillar was 2/4 and Devon Travis was 1/4

– Could the Jays be starting to employ their best relievers in the highest leverage situations? Miguel Castro coming in with two outs in the 7th could be evidence of that. It didn’t work out tonight but that wasn’t really on Castro and they should not let that dissuade from this strategy more in the future.

– After a full house opening night, there were a lot of empty seats tonight

Russell Martin nailed his 3rd base-stealer but also made a key error attempting to throw out Souza. The Rays had 4 steals on the night.

– Rene Rivera, Rays catcher, got the start at 1st. That was unusual as that was only the third time he’s played the position in a game before and he’s only 5’10.

– Pillar was a few feet from a home run in the 2nd as was Donaldson in the 8th and Travis in the 9th

– Russell Martin’s slump continued with an 0-4 night.

– The slow turf will also make it tough for outfielders to throw out runners as the ball takes longer to get to them

– The air seems to be as dead as the turf in the Rogers Centre currently

C+. Daniel Norris mostly struggled through 5 innings but to his credit only allowed 2 runs. Things could have been a lot worse but Norris managed to hold things together decently enough.. . Daniel Norris. STARTING PITCHING

. Liam Hendriks. RELIEF PITCHING . B. Hynes, Castro and Hendriks combined for 4 innings of unearned run relief but none of their outings were very clean. They let up 7 walks and hits. They were solid but not sterling and the winning run did cross the plate under their watch (even though that run is mainly on Martin’s shoulders)

. Kevin Pillar. HITTING . D+.  Once again the offence suffered from bad luck, good fielding on the part of the Rays but it was also poor performance at the dish. When your pitching staff only allows three runs (even 4 with this lineup) or less, it’s up to the offence to win the game. The offence couldn’t do it—again. Sure there were three balls that almost went out but almost ain’t out and it doesn’t excuse the rest of the lineup from an anemic effort against mediocre pitching. We’ll give Kevin Pillar offensive game ball honours for a 2/4, 1 RBI night.

Next: Do the Jays Have More Patience this Year?