Game Recaps: Blue Jays, Aaron Sanchez drop another tough one to Rays
If there is one thing the inherent truth about the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, it is that this team is built around its offense. Unfortunately, the offense has failed to produce much of anything in three of the four games against the Tampa Bay Rays, and that directly contributed to Toronto dropping the finale against Tampa 4-2.
As has been the story of this series, save the 12-run explosion on Wednesday, Blue Jays bats were once again quiet against Rays pitching. This time, it was Tampa ace Chris Archer that dominated the Toronto line-up. Archer went 7 strong innings, striking out 11 while allowing just 2 hits and a walk. The Jays hitters just seemed off balance all night, with Archer mixing in his high-90’s fastball with a mid-80’s change and a sharp slider. That led to a lot of soft contact, which in turn wasn’t aided by the slow turf either.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays handed the ball to Aaron Sanchez, who was making his second career start. Coming off tough performance against the Baltimore Orioles, Sanchez looked much more comfortable on the mound on Thursday night. He got through the first two innings unscathed before Tampa does what they do best; situational hitting.
The Rays plated one in the top of the third, after forcing a first and third, no-out situation. Kevin Kiermaier came in on a Steven Souza ground-out. Tampa would add another on a bloop double by David DeJesus that scored Kiermaier with the second run of the game. Two more runs would come across when Tim Beckham hit a pinch-hit 2-run home run off of Aaron Loup in the top of the 6th.
Toronto put on a bit of a rally in the 8th inning, loading the bases with nobody out. However, Kevin Jepsen got Jose Bautista to pop up for the first out. Edwin Encarnacion would hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate the first and only Jays run before pinch hitter Dioner Navarro grounded out to end the threat.
The Blue Jays would add another run in the bottom of the ninth on a Devon Travis RBI double, scoring Russell Martin. However, that left the tying run at the plate in the from of Ryan Goins, who popped up to end the game.
- As discussed, Sanchez looked much better tonight and deserved better than to take a loss. He showed nice movement on his fastball, often running it up to 97 at times. He finished with a line of 5.1 innings of work, allowing 5 hits (3 doubles), 3 walks, and 4 strike-outs. It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly a step forward.
- Shortstop Jose Reyes left the game after grounding out in the first inning. Reyes appeared to grab his left side while running off the field and reports were quick to note that he’s been dealing with an oblique injury since a check swing in Baltimore. Ryan Goins came out in the top of the 2nd and took Reyes’ place in the field.
- After having struck out just 3 times coming into tonight’s game, Kevin Pillar was rung up 3 times by Chris Archer.
- Some bad blood appeared to be brewing in the 8th inning. After Archer hit both Russell Martin (2nd inning) and Edwin Encarnacion (7th), the Blue Jays appeared to get some revenge in the 8th when Marco Estrada plunked Evan Longoria on the right hip. Chris Archer immediately began running his mouth, which got Mark Buehrle up to the top step in the Blue Jays dugout, telling him to sit down. Laz Diaz wanted nothing of it and told Archer to sit down as well.
- The fireworks got hotter in the 9th when Steve Geltz hit Josh Donaldson on the finger on a pitch up near his head. Diaz warned both benches in the process. It’s hard to imagine that it was intention to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate, but the warnings needed to be issued at that point. We’ll see how it gets handled when the two teams meet again next week, but I’m sure this will be a story to watch this season.
- Speaking of Estrada, the right-hander turned in three innings without allowing a home run. In fact, he threw two scoreless frames. Small miracles, right?!
Next: Kevin Pillar showing the D but is the offense still a work in progress?