After dropping the first two games of the series against the Oakland Athletics, the Toronto Blue Jays offence woke up and took the final two games to split the four-game series. Here is a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the series.
The Blue Jays bullpen, which is arguably the best in the majors, continues to be the reason the team has seen success in the first part of the 2021 season. During the four-game set, nine different relief pitchers were counted on to throw 14 innings and they surrendered just one run. That one run allowed was by Tyler Chatwood, which marked the first time all season that he allowed an opposing player to cross home plate.
Travis Bergen led the bullpen as he made two appearances in the series and ate 3.2 innings for the team, while Trent Thornton bounced back from a couple of shaky previous outings. Thornton came in relief in the second game throwing 2.2 innings and striking out three. The series saw the Blue Jays rotation start four lefties, and you have to start to wonder if Thornton can find himself a spot as a starter. Thornton currently leads the bullpen with 16.2 innings pitched which puts him fourth on the club.
Oakland Athletics fans showed a lot of class and that they missed their former All-Star Marcus Semien throughout the series. His response to the warm welcome was to put on a hitting clinic, specifically in the finale where he collected four hits and was a triple shy of the cycle. In total, Semien went 7 for 17 (.412) with a pair of walks in the series. He also led the club in extra-base hits with two doubles and a home run.
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Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez also had a strong hitting series, as they combined to collect 13 RBI’s and 10 hits over the four games, while Cavan Biggio finally got his average above .200 as he went 5 for 16 (.313).
While the bullpen was spectacular in the series, the starting rotation was the opposite. Robbie Ray was the only starter that was able to pitch into the sixth inning and the four lefties combined to post an ERA of 7.20 after surrendering 16 runs over 20 innings pitched. A positive that you can take from the rotation is that the group allowed just four free passes, so things could have been much worse had they allowed were surrendering more walks.
Steven Matz had a particularly rough game as he allowed five runs on seven hits, two of which were home runs over five innings. After dominating all Spring Training and his first three starts to begin the year, Matz has struggled in his last three outings. Matz has given up 14 runs in 13.2 innings to raise his ERA from 1.47 to 4.78 on the season. I don’t think Matz is as good as the 1.47 ERA, but also not as bad as his recent starts.
The injury bug has really taken its toll on the team this season and it continued during the series in Oakland. David Phelps came into pitch during Wednesday night’s game but had to be pulled during his warm-up. The team announced on Thursday that he would be put on the 10-day injured list with a right lateral strain. The team will miss Phelps as he has appeared in 11 games this season and allowed just one earned run over 10.1 innings while striking out 15.
In no surprise, after sitting out a couple of games, the Blue Jays announced on Wednesday that George Springer would also be placed on the 10-day IL with a right quad strain. As many know, Springer signed a massive six-year deal this past offseason but has only had 18 plate appearances thus far this season going 3 for 15 (.200) with two home runs while dealing with the injuries.
The Blue Jays will be back at it on Friday as they head into Houston to face the Astros with Ross Stripling making the start against Jose Urquidy.