The Toronto Blue Jays won their third series of the season, taking two of three games from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon.
A huge reason for the successful start to the road trip was the performance of the pitching staff, which allowed just five runs over the three games.
It’s a great sign for the Jays after some shaky early starts and is a good indicator of the potential for a rotation that is considered to be one of the best in the big leagues. The bullpen has been solid keeping them in games, and, led by Jordan Romano, closing them out.
Blue Jays, steady starts
Coming into the first series of the season at Fenway, it was starting to feel like Alek Manoah was the most reliable pitcher on the staff, and he wasn’t scheduled to pitch.
Yusei Kikuchi took the mound on Tuesday night, and, at first, it wasn’t pretty. He walked the first two batters but then got a double-play ball and another groundout.
That would turn out to be a theme as Kikuchi got 10 outs via the groundout. He battled through five innings and allowed just three hits and one earned run. He wasn’t helped by a Bo Bichette throwing error in the fourth, but that would turn out to be a theme too.
David Phelps, Yimi Garcia, and Trevor Richards all pitched clean innings in relief. Garcia suffered the indignity of taking the loss on an unearned run after another errant Bichette throw and the Blue Jays bats couldn’t put runs on the scoreboard. His record is 0-1 despite maintaining a perfect 0.00 ERA in six innings so far.
Jose Berrios took the ball the following evening and, once again, the early results weren’t great. Three hard-hit balls, including an RBI single by J.D. Martinez to give the home side the early lead. Berrios struck out both Xander Bogaerts and Trevor Story to limit the damage.
Overall, he gave up eight hits but didn’t allow the Red Sox to string them together to do further damage after the first inning. Berrios pitched six innings and earned the win in an encouraging start.
The bullpen didn’t need to be perfect but they nearly were. Tim Mayza gave up a pair of singles and that’s it. Richards pitched for the second straight night and got four outs. With a 6-1 lead, Charlie Montoyo turned to Julian Merryweather, who got the final three outs.
Blue Jays: Glorious Gausman
After two steady starts which allowed the bullpen to have a manageable workload, Kevin Gausman nearly provided an entire day off for the relievers.
Gausman was sensational, pitching into the ninth while scattering six hits, all singles, and striking out eight. Montoyo gave him a chance to go the distance but made the move to Romano after a leadoff single.
The closer hadn’t pitched in three days and his return was a bit uncharacteristic. He walked the first batter, then surrendered an RBI double, and an RBI groundout. With the game-tying run a third base Romano got consecutive infield ground ball outs to end the game, capture the series, and earn his seventh save of the season.
The Jays won’t pitch this well all season and it is just one series but it’s a step in the right direction. As the season rolls on, there’s no reason to think this staff can’t be just as good as their headline-grabbing teammates swinging the bats.