Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: All kinds of “firsts” during Saturday’s loss to Chicago

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 28: Starting pitcher John Axford #77 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers the ball in the first start of his career against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 28, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 28: Starting pitcher John Axford #77 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers the ball in the first start of his career against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 28, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Saturday’s game may have been disappointing, but it will be memorable for the Blue Jays and their fans because of the number of “firsts” that took place.

The Blue Jays looked like they had their second straight win over the White Sox under control until late in the game when everything fell apart. The result was a disappointing loss, but the game still had plenty of notable things happen, so unfortunately we’ll be forced to remember it for awhile in one way or another.

On the plus side, those notable things that took place were all positive for the Blue Jays in the quirky affair with the White Sox.

It all started because the Blue Jays had a “bullpen day” on the mound, which meant John Axford got his first career start as a big leaguer. He hadn’t taken that role since 2008, and he was a minor leaguer at the time. He was very effective in his short start as well, giving up just one hit over three innings, and throwing 38 pitches. That one hit likely could have been an out as well, as Axford himself bobbled a ball before throwing late to first base.

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The start was also the first time that the Blue Jays have had an all-Canadian battery, as fellow Canuck Russell Martin was behind the plate catching Axford’s outing (although, I’m going off of Mike Wilner’s tweet, which was admittedly unconfirmed). They’ve worked together many times of course, but this was the first time that a Canadian had started a game with a Canadian behind the plate for the Blue Jays (Jeff Francis never started a game with Martin behind the plate). It’s also the first time that an All-Canadian battery has worked in an MLB game since 1993, when the Expos’ Joe Siddall caught Denis Boucher on October 3rd of that year.

While Axford had a good outing, Russell Martin also added a home run to the stat sheet. That blast was significant as well, because it marked the first time the Blue Jays had a Canadian hit a home run in a game started by a Canadian. Sure, we’re getting a little more obscure here now, but still pretty cool regardless.

Of course I’m saving the best for last as well, as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. just keeps impressing Blue Jays coaches and fans everywhere. If you’re not excited about this young man by now, then you’re not watching. The Cuban-born budding star picked up hits in the first and second inning on Saturday, making it his 10th straight multi-hit game. That feat hasn’t been accomplished since Shoeless Joe Jackson did in… in 1911! It’s also, obviously, the first time a Blue Jay has ever accomplished that feat.

Gurriel has been arguably the most exciting player on the roster over the last several weeks, and might just be positioning himself as a fixture of this club for year’s to come. At 24, he’s showing raw ability that exceeds nearly all of the other infielders on the roster at the moment, and I sincerely hope the Blue Jays continue to find him regular playing time. On Sunday he’ll have an opportunity to make history as the first rookie with 11 multi-games since 1876. No joke.

So while it may have been an ugly outing for the Blue Jays on Saturday, the game will go down in their books for a lot of reasons. Fortunately they were all positive, at least the noteworthy things that will be revisited down the line.

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The Blue Jays will oppose the White Sox on Sunday for the third and final game of their series, sending Ryan Borucki to the mound against Carlos Rondon. Hopefully Borucki can give the Blue Jays some length, as, to quote John Gibbons after the game, “we’re screwed with our ‘pen tomorrow”. Gotta love good ol’ Gibby.

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