What a fucking long month this has been.
For Marcus Stroman Jersey Giveaway Day, the Jays brought Aaron Sanchez to the mound for his comeback start (they should time the days better so Stroman pitches on Stroman’s Giveaway Day). Up against Chris Archer, the Jays went with their regulation line-up, deciding to avoid the potential platoon advantages. This meant Steve Pearce in left, Barney at third, and Travis at second.
Sanchez’s comeback start would start off the right way, after a leadoff walk, a strikeout of Kiermaier than a DP meant Sanchez only took 13 pitches to get through the first.
After Pillar struck out, Joey Bats came up and was greeted by Chris Archer with a ball thrown behind Bautista. Pat and Buck were dumbfounded, I was confused, Joey Bats was confused, and Archer was unrepentant, so I can only presume that he feels or knows something no one else goes. Archer was given a warning for the incident. Eventually Bautista flew out to right. After Morales singled, Smoaky hit a deep liner to the warning track, where it was collected by the Rays left fielder, leaving the scores 0-0 after one.
Sanchez only lasted one inning, with a split fingernail (I think, at least according to Buck). In came Ryan Tepera for long relief, who started with two strikeouts and a pop-up. His good day continued, to the point where his night ended pitching three and a third, only allowing one runner to reach base.
The Jays meanwhile weren’t able to do anything with Chris Archer, to the point where an at-bat summary will just read the same, Archer preventing a runner from moving into scoring position until the 6th.
Loup relieved Tepera, and threw two innings of scoreless ball, it wasn’t pretty, but in fairness it got the job done and kept the Rays scoreless.
As for the bottom of the 6th, the Jays missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. After Pillar struck out, a Joey Bats single and a ground rule double by Morales left runners on second and third with one out. Things looked great until you realised who was coming to the plate, my favourite strikeout machine Justin Smoak, who true to reputation, struck out swinging. When Russell Martin ended the inning by grounding out.
That missed opportunity would come back to haunt the Jays. After a clean 7th by Loup and Tepera and Archer continuing to deal, the Rays would finally break the tie in the top of the 8th against Joe Smith. After a lead-off walk by Logan Morrison, Derek Norris (don’t you wish he decided to sign with us as the backup catcher) singled to leave runners on first and second with no outs. On a foul fly to shallow right taken well by Smoaky, Morrison tagged up and advanced to third, Smoaky also coming down with a knee problem when he planted his feet trying to throw out the advancing Morrison. A sac bunt would score Morrison. JP Howell would come in to finish the inning, which he eventually would, getting Kiermaier to fly out after walking Corey Dickenson.
The bottom of the 8th started with a leadoff walk of Darwin Barney. Sending the runner on a full count, Pillar grounded out, leaving Barney at second with one out and Joey Bats coming to the plate. At that point Chris Archer was pulled for Rays closer Alex Colome. Joey Bats then pulled a hanging breaking ball and I, at 3.45AM local time went nuts, thinking he’d hit the go-ahead solo shot, alas it was only a double off the top of the wall but good enough to score Darwin and level it at one. Following an intentional walk of Morales, a nearly identical scenario to the previous at-bat developed for Smoaky, and again he struck out swinging, this time missing the ball by about a foot, his swing plane nowhere near the changeup (it might have been a slider that didn’t slide that much, frankly I don’t know)
That left two outs, and Russell Martin coming to the plate. This time, Russell doesn’t disappoint, a bloop single along the first-base line scoring Bautista, making it 2-1. Following that play, which left runners on first and third, Zeke pinch-hit for Steve Pearce, seeking to both preserve his hit streak and tack on an insurance run. With an infield single, he got both, making it 3-1, before Devon Travis hit a sharp grounder to third to end the inning.
Osuna came on for the save, and got it with little fuss, although the defence, including Osuna himself didn’t help themselves with the gloves. After a pop out by Longoria, Brad Miller reached on an error, with Goins making a terrible, weak-armed throw Smoak couldn’t dig out, BTW, he had to dig it out because Goins didn’t realise how much time he had. After Rickie Weeks Jr struck out (note he was DH today, a DH who doesn’t hit for much power, what is the point), Osuna allowed Logan Morrison to reach, the ball deflecting off Osuna’s glove and preventing Devon Travis from finishing off the game. Osuna though was able to strike out Derek Norris to end the game, giving the Jays a 3-1 win.
Somehow, despite a strong seven and a third, Chris Archer got a no-decision, conceded one earned run (all Colome’s fault), and only gave up 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out five. Obviously, Sanchez only started one inning, so the bullpen did a great job (a welcome change) covering him and stopping the runs. JP Howell got the win while Osuna got the save.
To conclude, I’d like to talk about the month of April, with April over, who can say they saw this coming. The Jays only won one series for the whole month, and that was only secured in the final game of the month. The bullpen was by and large garbage, with only Joe Biagini pitching really well. The starting rotation is a disaster zone, with two of the five already going on the DL. The offense struggled big time, and one month in the Jays have the worst record in the league. So it can’t really get much worse from here.
THE COMEBACK STARTS NOW, GO JAYS