Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Blue Jays: Coming Into Their Own Against Tampa Bay

The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays squared off recently in an exciting set that would have nothing less than fireworks throughout.

The Toronto Blue Jays started their three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Victoria Day with RA Dickey on the mound for the Jays and Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi who was called up in place of David Price, who had been injured recently and placed on the DL. The Blue Jays and Rays would strike early, each team dishing out three runs, a piece in the first three innings and it would stay that way until the bottom of the seventh inning where the Rays pitcher Josh Lueke would walk into some trouble. Lueke would walk Emilio Bonifacio, Munenori Kawasaki and Jose Bautista, then give up the lead to Edwin Encarnacion, smashing a two out double that would bring in every runner to score and make the lead 6-3 in favor of Toronto. The Jays would score one more time in the eighth inning, thanks to Kawasaki who would hit a triple to bring in Henry Blanco. Funny enough Brett Lawrie did the same thing in the first. With the score 7-3 for the Blue Jays, manager John Gibbons would look to Casey Janssen to finish the game. After two outs Yunel Escobar would hit a two run homerun off of Janssen, (that is right Yunel Escobar of all people), but that is all the Rays would get and the final score would be 7-5 for Toronto.

RA Dickey would pitch a great game going 8 innings strong in this first game, the most innings he had pitched all season. He would have only 4 hits and three runs against him with five strikeouts earning his fourth win of the season in front of 29,885 happy Blue Jay fans. Odorizzi would go 5 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs, striking out 6 in the game and would get the no decision; Lueke would be the unfortunate player to earn the loss. Looks like the rain helped the Jays, because the bullpen would get more rest and Dickey would pitch a great game – great way to celebrate Victoria Day.

For the second game the Jays looked to veteran pitcher Ramon Ortiz to take on the Rays and Alex Cobb. Ortiz however would not get past the third inning after giving up 6 hits, 4 runs and 2 homeruns, 1 strikeout in only just 2.1 innings. The bullpen would have to pick up the slack and try their best to prevent the Rays from scoring anymore. Down 4-0 the Jays would finally get on the scoreboard after Colby Rasmus’ solo shot in the bottom of the fifth inning. It would be the only blemish on what would be a good day for the Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb, he would go 6.1 innings with 1 run, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. The Rays would looked to their bullpen for the rest of the game, but their pen would not be as solid as the Jays.

The Jays would score one in the bottom of the 8th inning thanks to a Joey Bats single and could have gotten more if JP Arencibia did not ground into a double play. In the bottom of the ninth inning it got even more exciting after Rasmus would score on a wild pitch to make it 4-3, Kawasaki would walk, and the recently hot Melki Cabrera would come to bat. Unfortunately it would not end the way the Jays wanted it to, as Melky would strike out and the game would be over with a 4-3 game in favor of the Rays. It was not a bad game and the bullpen proved it can be very reliable which is a good sign going forward.

The third and final game, the Jays sent Mark Buehrle to mound to face the Rays Jeremy Hellickson and once again the Jays would play some exciting baseball right to the very end. After leading 1-0 nothing thanks to a Jose Bautista RBI single, the Jays walked into a small jam, which lead to the Rays scoring two runs. This can easily be blamed on Maicer Izturis who had an error on the play. With two outs in the top of the third and two men on, Ryan Roberts would hit a ground ball that would come to second basemen Maicer , it could have easily been a routine play, but he tried to bare hand the throw which lead to a throwing error and a run scored for the Rays. Another run would score off of a Ben Zobrist single and the score would be 2-1 in favor of Tampa. I do not know what Izturis was thinking, maybe he thought he had no choice to bare hand the ball but clearly it was a bad call which could have cost the Jays in the long run. Luckily for the Jays Jose Bautista would hit a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth to make it 2-2.

The next run to be scored by any team would be in the top of the ninth where James Loney would single of off Casey Janssen and then Evan Longoria would score. Once again it was down to the 9th inning where Jose Bautista would once again for the second time this game hit a solo homerun and tie the game 3-3. Bautista would play the hero again in the 10th with an RBI single to win the game for the Jays 4-3 and would win the series against the Rays, 2 games to 1. For the Rays, Hellickson would get a no decision with 8.0 innings of work with 4 hits and only two runs against with 4 strikeouts while Cesar Ramos would get the loss. On the Jays side Mark Buehrle would get the no decision as well as 7.0 innings pitched four hits 2 runs and 6 strikeouts in the game. He probably should have earned the win had it not been for a certain someone screwing up in the top of the third, but it does not matter as the Jays would win and Aaron Loup would be credited with that victory.


Nicks Notes:

It was nice to see Dickey and Buehrle heat up like this. They have really shown that they can become reliable pitchers, and if the Jays can play smart baseball and get enough runs to support these guys they will have a lot more wins coming their way. Hopefully Brendan Morrow and Josh Johnson can follow RA and Mark’s example.

The Jays are playing some great baseball lately (ignoring the Yankee series) and I firmly believe that this team is not giving up anytime soon, they still need about 8 wins to hit the 500 mark, but the wildcard is only 6.5 games away. Yes they are second last in the AL and have a lot of work to do, but this team is waking up and trying very hard to win every game that they play.

Jose Bautista who went 4-4 with two homeruns in the third game of the series also went 6-10 in the series against the Rays with 3 runs, 2 homeruns and 5 RBIs.

The bullpen has been lights out in this series as well as only allowing 3 runs, ironically the only one who has allowed these runs has been Casey Janssen, everyone else has been perfect. Personally I would not worry too much about Casey Janssen, he is a good pitcher who knows how to bounce back – and frankly the two times he pitched were not even save situations.

The next series is a four game homestead series against the Baltimore Orioles, if the Jays play these games right they could easily win this series and be on their way up in the standings. Stay tuned!

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Photo Credit: Keith Allison via Photopin


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