After an abysmal week against the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox that saw the Blue Jays go 1-6, they turned things around with a quick three-game set in New York. After being rained out on Wednesday night the Blue Jays played a pair of seven inning games during a double header on Thursday. They left Yankees Stadium taking two of the three games. Here is a look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from the series.
There is no way I cannot lead off with the pitching performance of one of the blue chip prospects in the Blue Jays organization. Alek Manoah was called up this week and told he was starting Wednesday night for his debut, however, rain pushed his appearance back to Thursday. Nerves appeared to take the better of him during the first at bat of the game as he walked D.J. LeMahieu on four pitches, but to say he settled in after that would be an understatement. Manoah struck out Rougned Odor on three pitches and then dominated Aaron Judge during his at bat at the plate. On one pitch, Judge fell to the ground, albeit more of a lost footing than anything else, but then on the third strike Judge guessed the wrong pitch and just flailed his bat at the ball after it had already arrived in Reese McGuire’s glove.
Manoah would dominate the Yankees for the rest of the afternoon, never finding himself in any trouble and was not in a situation where he saw a runner in scoring position. At one point, Manoah sat down nine consecutive Yankees and finished the day pitching six shutout innings allowing just a pair of walks and hits while striking out seven on just 88 pitches. A lot of me wanted to see him go out for the seventh inning, but I understand the move.
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It is hard to talk individually about Marcus Semien or Bo Bichette without talking about the other. They seem to always match each other game for game. This series they both went 4 for 11 and each had a pair of extra base hits, with Semien collecting a double and home run, while Bichette hit a home run in each of the double header games on Thursday. Both are now in double digits in home runs with Semien sitting fifth in the league in home runs with 13 and Bichette at eleventh with 11. Also, both are top seven in American League hits and top six in stolen bases. I know George Springer has been penciled into the leadoff spot since he signed with the team, but once he is healthy, I don’t know how you move around the top four hitters in the line-up, especially Semien who has been dominant in the leadoff position.
I don’t want to harp on Robbie Ray too much, because he has been good so far this season, especially considering the price they paid to acquire him at the deadline last year (*cough* Ross Stripling). There has been much talk this season about how he has cut down on his walks which has normally been his biggest downfall, however, what hasn’t been mentioned is how he has been the victim to the long ball. Ray started the second game of the double header and was given a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the third, but then gave up a two-run home run to Aaron Judge to tie the game, and also allowed another home run to Gary Sanchez the next inning. Ray was unable to get through the fifth inning after allowing five runs (four earned) , which led to his second loss of the season and he now leads all of baseball in surrendering the home run (14 times).
The bottom of the order continues to really struggle and it showed during the series in New York. The 7-9 spot in the order went a combined 3 for 21 (.143), which two of the hits were off very soft singles by Santiago Espinal and Jonathan Davis. With how much they are struggling, I would really like to see Charlie Montoyo using small ball and turning over the lineup.
One moment that comes to mind was in the third game of the series and the club down by a run in the fifth inning. Davis led off the inning with a single and Danny Jansen came to the plate next. The order was about to turned over the top after Danny Jansen’s turn at bat, which I would have like to see him move him over to second. However, Jansen swung at the first pitch and hit a soft ball to shortstop for an easy double play. Jansen has struggled to put down a bunt over his career, but when you are batting .139 on the season you better learn to help the offence out. Having a runner on second with one out for Semien and Bichette is a way better situation than a runner on first with none out for Jansen.
You can imagine how much this lineup will get deeper once a healthy Cavan Biggio and George Springer return.
The Blue Jays flew out to Cleveland after the game for a weekend series with the Indians. The tribe will send one of their prospects out for his first career game on Friday night when Eli Morgan takes the mound against Hyun Jin Ryu.