Blue Jays Game Recap: Avoid Sweep to Detroit Tigers
The Blue Jays avoided the sweep in Detroit thanks to an offensive explosion in the 5th inning. On a day when the Blue Jays needed their starter to go deep into a game, Marco Estrada had his change up working early on. It looked as though it would be a pitcher’s duel. But, the Blue Jays got to one time dominant starter, Justin Verlander.
While it looked like Estrada was going to take a shut out on the road with him, he ran into trouble in the bottom of the 5th as his pitch count reached 100. The hope that he’d save the bullpen, but he hit a wall and manager, John Gibbons had to dip into the bullpen after 5 innings. Asking for 4 innings from this tired bullpen is flirting with danger. The Tigers added a run in the 6th and a run in the 7th off of Bo Schultz. The run in the 7th came off a home run form Anthony Gose. Yeah.
You knew the Blue Jays offense would not disappear for long after taking the day off in Saturday’s match. The struck for 6 runs in the 5th inning. It all started with a Kevin Pillar single. 4 hits later, the Blue Jays had knocked Verlander out of the game and had a big lead. They would continue to pile it on. At what point do we start thinking that the offense is enough to carry this team to the post season? The idea that pitching wins may have some truth to it, but these bats have fans believing…at least a little.
- Putting Justin Smoak in the lineup seems to be a good idea lately. In the 5th inning, he was on the back end of back to back home runs. His blast to right center field was such a thing of beauty. The sheer power that Smoak brings to the table is too tantalizing to leave him on the bench. And, he brings great defense at first base.
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- Jose Bautista continued his ability to get on base with another 2 walks. His .394 OBP at the start of the game put him in 3rd place in the American League. Many have took issue with his performance of late. Heading into this contest, he’s hitting just .245. Many take that as a sign of struggling. Yet, he’s 2nd in the AL with 55 RBI. He connected for his 17th HR of the season off Justin Verlander in the 5th for the first of the back to back blasts. The line drive seemed to leave the park faster than it go tot the plate.
- As a fan of baseball, it is somewhat disappointing to see Verlander struggle yet again this season. In his effort to come back off of an injury, he’s had a rough go of it. His fastballs just aren’t what they used to be. The home runs he gave up to Bautista and Smoak were like beach balls. They were all over those offerings. His off speed stuff was good, but his trade mark heat has cooled off.
- Bo Schultz entered the game in the 6th and promptly gave up a home run to J.D. Martinez. Now, if there weren’t a cut out in the RF wall, it would have been a double. But, thanks to that cut out, it was a 4 ft high round tripper. It seems every ball park has its oddities.
- As much as everyone loves the power of this offense, it should be noted that they also know how to work a count for a walk. In the 7th inning, the big bats of Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Smoak worked 3 straight walks out of reliever Drew Verhagen. It loaded the bases with no one out. The Blue Jays managed to score two of those runs to open the lead to 9-3.
- Devon Travis extended his hit streak to 7 games with a 2 hit day. Travis drove in 3 runs on 2 hits and a walk. He capped it off with a sac fly in the 9th to bring the score to 10-5.
- Roberto Osuna had to be called in with one out in the 8th as the bullpen allowed the Tigers to tack on a run each inning. When he entered, it was in a save situation. If he can take this role and run with it, it might make the Blue Jays’ mid- summer shopping easier…and less expensive. But, even with Osuna excelling, there is no guarantee of success. Nothing demonstrates this lingering truth more than with two outs in the 9th inning, he grabbed at his back as though something were not right. It prompted a visit from the manager and trainer, but all seemed to be OK. Whew.
Estrada didn’t have his best stuff in this one. He certainly was not in his ‘no-hitter’ form. That said, he managed to get through 5 innings having only given up 2 runs. Those runs came in the bottom of the 5th where it seemed like Estrada hit a wall. In the broadcast, it was mentioned that over his last few starts, Estrada has been worked hard. Perhaps there was a level of fatigue that is catching up with him. Even still, the Blue Jays needed a starter to right the ship. Estrada did that. His grade would have been higher if he could have been more economical with his pitch count and saved the bullpen an inning or two more.
When you exhaust your bullpen with poor starts from the rotation, expectations have to be adjusted. Fresh arms come in and are more effective. Not so fresh arms don’t. So, when Bo Schultz came in with a healthy lead, all we could have hoped for was a solid showing that didn’t cost too many runs. He gave up a run in each of his innings. Aaron Loup came in the 8th and gave up a couple hits that led to a run. That made Gibby turn to Roberto Osuna. He was nails as he struck out pinch hitter, Rajai Davis on the high heat to end the threat in the 8th. Other than a leadoff single in the 9th, he shut the door on the Tigers.
On a night when the offense strikes for a plethora of runs and gets so many contributions from its lineup, it is difficult to single out just one player. But, I will anyway. Bautista went 1 for 4. But, he walked twice, scored twice, and drove in two runs. Of course, this could have been given to Josh Donaldson who went 2 for 4 with a run and two RBI. But, Bautista continues to show leadership by putting together quality at bats and helping his team win in different ways.
The Blue Jays will head to Chicago to take on the White Sox and Chris Sale on Monday. It will likely be a special moment as Mark Buehrle will make what will likely be his final start in the city of Chicago. Many feel that he will retire at the end of this season.
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