The Blue Jays flew into Buffalo late Wednesday night so they could make up two games against the Philadelphia Phillies in a doubleheader on Thursday. The Blue Jays showed a lot of grit as they came from behind in both games to take the series.
The two wins now put the team in sole possession of third place in the division and 2.5 games back of a playoff position. Here is a look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the two-game series.
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The commitment to team play and moving the baton needs to be acknowledged, especially in the case of the bullpen and offence. As this was a doubleheader both games were just seven innings in length. In-Game 1 of the series, the Blue Jays fell behind early 2-0 and were trailing in the bottom of the sixth 2-1. The bullpen kept the game tight so the offence could come back and walk off the game in the seventh. In-Game 2 of the series, the team fell behind 7-0 after the first inning and again the bullpen shut the door as the door through the middle parts of the game as they allowed just one more run. In the first game it there was just one extra-base hits as the offence just chipped away to score the runs and the bullpen just kept passing the ball to the next guy and keeping the team in the game.
As for players go, Julian Merryweather gets the first acknowledgement. For those who don’t know who Merryweather is, he was the player to be named later in the Josh Donaldson trade from a couple of seasons ago. Merryweather who will be 29-years old in October made his MLB debut on Thursday afternoon, facing five batters. The first batter he faced was former third overall pick Alec Bohm who he struck him out on five pitches after falling behind 2-0. Merryweather would pitch 1.1 innings, striking out three and throwing Bryce Harper out at first when he tried to bunt to get on.
While it was just a short day, the offence was sparking as they combined to hit .339 over the two games. Rowdy Tellez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr, Teoscar Hernandez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr all collected three hits. The top offensive player though would go to Cavan Biggio who went 2 for 5, which also included three walks that led to a .625 on-base percentage. Biggio also had the clutch RBI double in the sixth inning of Game 1 that tied the game.
The defense was not good in this game, specifically in Game 2 of the set. Trent Thornton started the second game and lasted just two-thirds of an inning after surrendering six runs on five hits. This is one of the situations where the numbers look much worse than the actual performance. There were three balls hit into the outfield that may have been caught with better routes.
Early in the inning, Teoscar Hernandez had a beat on the ball, however, looked off to see if Randal Grichuk would get to the ball (which he couldn’t) and this would cost the right fielder from being able to make the catch. Later in the inning, fly balls were hit to both Lourdes Gurriel Jr and Hernandez; both spun around multiple times while tracking the balls and they both landed for hits.
As we have already discussed the outfield miscues in the bad, there isn’t much ugly on the day. However, it was announced after Game 1 that Anthony Alford was Designated for Assignment (DFA). I don’t think Alford would have a had a huge impact on the future of the Blue Jays, but I do think he could have contributed for the season.
The team lacks any base runners to come off the bench and he is the teams’ best defensive outfielder. Late in games when you have the lead you’ll want a player to come in to replace Hernandez and/or Gurriel Jr and I don’t think Billy McKinney is a huge upgrade.
I want to be clear, I think McKinney deserves to be on the team and you need to find another player to remove, my choice would have been Brandon Drury as he is batting just .143 on the season and does not bring any strong attributes.
The Blue Jays will fly down to Tampa Bay Thursday night to play the Rays in a three-game series and it will be the final time the two teams play each other in the regular season. What are you looking to see in the series?