Today was the big day, like Simba coming back to find the kingdom ravaged because of Scar’s rule, Tulo and Donaldson would come back with a team well under .500, with two non-performing bats taking up their position, and the Jays crying out for the good old days of last season.
The lineup was pretty much back to normal, with JD and Tulo returning to their natural positions, and Devon and Smoaky at second and first respectively. Zeke was at left, Pillar at center, Joey Bats at right, and Martin catching. God it feels good to say that the field was normal again, now about Bolsinger.
Bolsinger pitched around a leadoff single to strand a man at third in the first. As for the bottom of the inning, Donaldson’s double was the loudest cheer for a double I’ve ever heard, it’s good to be back it seems.
The Rangers would take an early lead in the top of the second, a leadoff walk issued to Napoli brought Joey Gallo to the plate. His FC grounder should’ve limited the damage, however Travis threw the ball away, allowing runners at first and third with no outs. A sac fly by Hoying would score Napoli and give them a 1-0 lead. Gallo though would be stranded at third as DeShields and Shoo both grounded out. That lead wouldn’t last long though.
Smoaky walked to lead-off the second. A Martin single to left would then get things really going, and a 5-pitch walk by Tulo would load the bases. I didn’t get to see what happened next due to a call of nature, but when I came back, what I missed was tremendous, a grand slam by Devon Travis giving the Jays a 4-1 lead with no outs in the second. Devon connected on a changeup, depositing it just over the wall in left.
After AJ Griffin struck out Zeke looking, he grabbed for his oblique and would come out of the game with an injury. My belief is he pitched injured, as most of the stuff in that inning was breaking balls. On came Austin Bibens-Dirkx to pitch in long-relief. Other than his long name, Bibens-Dirkx was a former Jays farmhand, playing at Double-A New Hampshire a few years back. In the second, he would strike out Pillar and Donaldson to end the inning.
Elvis Andrus (the man that single-handedly give Joey Bats the chance to hit the shot) singled to begin the inning, Donaldson and Tulo clearly not fully confident in their bodies in not diving for a ball that could’ve been taken by them. Mazara would then fly out to Pillar in deep-center. Bolsinger and the Jays would then catch another break, Lucroy would double with the ball evading Smoakys glove near the first base line. Andrus though would run through the stop sign from the third base coach, and was tagged out by Martin, giving the Jays a free out, and no man at third. Instead of men on second and third with one out, the Rangers had two outs, and only Lucroy at second, and it would haunt them. The Jays would get out of the inning through a good catch by Joey Bats in deep right field, keeping the score 4-1 in the middle of the third. Again, Andrus saves the Jays.
Joey Bats would have a long at-bat to leadoff the third, but would eventually fly out to shallow left, DeShields and Andrus clearly not communicating as they nearly collided and only just caught it. Morales would then ground out before Smoaky would hit a solo shot to right, the score was 5-1 after three.
Another leadoff runner for the Rangers, a single by Napoli. Napoli would advance to second on a wild pitch by Bolsinger, before going to third on a groundout to third by Gallo. The Jays made the smart play, allowing Napoli to score and taking the out, Smoaky just beating Hoying to the base for the forceout. Donaldson would again fail to field a difficult ball, a double down the third-base line for DeShields. Bolsinger though would get out of the inning, striking out Shin Soo Choo.
Travis would have a one-out double in the 4th, his 15th double of the month surely approaching some sort of record. He would be stranded as Zeke struck out looking on a full count, and Pilalr flew out to Hoying in center.
Elvis Andrus again reached base to leadoff the fifth and proceeded to steal second, after Mazara struck out and Lucroy grounded out to Tulo, Odor came to the plate and was again greeting by well-deserving jeering. Andrus would steal third, before Odor would walk on a full count. Napoli would then hit an RBI single right between the diving Tulo and Donaldson, scoring Andrus and leaving runners on first and second with two outs. Bolsinger would be pulled for Aaron Loup. The out would be made thanks to Tulo, the score kept at 5-3.
The Jays would add another, a two-out solo shot to center by Morales off of a high fastball. In the sixth, Loup would pitch a 1-2-3. Another change in the bottom of the sixth, Buck off to the toilet and gone for the first 30 seconds, Pat doing a great job stepping into the void. In the actual game, Bibins-Dirkx was still pitching, and would allow Tulo to reach base on a one-out walk. Travis then had a really long at-bat, fouling off several pitches, before finally singling to left, runners on first and second with one out. That would end the night of Bibins-Dirkx.
Jeremy Jeffress, another former Blue Jay would come in to relieve Bibins-Dirkx, and would issue a walk to Zeke, loading the bases with one out. Pillar would then bounce into the forceout, a play made a home. That meant the bases were still loaded for the Bringer of Rain. On a 1-2 count, a wild pitch on a curveball in the dirt scored Travis. Donaldson would ground out, but an insurance run left the score 7-3 after six.
Danny Barnes would come out to pitch the seventh, after two quick outs he’d walk Lucroy, but a strikeout of Odor would give the Jays a 7-3 lead heading into the seventh inning stretch.
Jeffress stayed out to pitch, and after Joey Bats struck out to leadoff, Morales singled right up the middle and Smoaky walked. Russell Martin would strike out, bringing Tulo to the plate with another runner in scoring position. Tulo would single, but because its Ron Rivera, he sent Morales to get gunned down at the plate, inning over.
Ryan Tepera had eighth inning duty tonight, and after getting Napoli to pop out, allowed a two-strike double to Joey Gallo, who golfed it into the power alley. Tepera would get out of it though, striking out Hoying and DeShields.
Jeffress would stil pitch, giving Smoaky and Zeke to start the eighth before being removed for Matt Bush. He’d get Pillar.
Joe Smith would come out to pitch the ninth in a non-save situation. Choo would strike out, and following a groundout to Tulo, Mazara would get an infield single, beating out the game-ending forceout by inches.
Lucroy would double right over the third base bag. At this point it made sense to be nervous, and for good reason, as an Odor homer would make it a one-run game. Osuna now had to come on for the save opportunity, and fuck did it feel nervewracking. But he’d strike out Napoli and earn the save.
The pitching was iffy, especially the starters. Mike Bolsinger didn’t pitch enough to get the win, but it wasn’t a terrible start, four and two-thirds pitched, giving up 3 runs (two earned), off of 6 hits and 4 walks, while striking out two. As for AJ Griffin, the injury meant he only pitched one and a third, giving up 4 runs off of three hits and two walks, while also striking out two, he was also tagged with the loss. Austin Bibins-Dirkx deserves a mention too, he pitched four innings, and gave up 3 runs (because Jeffress pitched a shocker) off of 4 hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
The Jays record improves to 22-26, with the Jays now within six and a half games of the Yankees. Tomorrow will see Marco Estrada up against Yu Darvish in an afternoon clash.
To sign off with some quick thoughts. First, boy does Russell Martin looks weird without a beard. Devon Travis has a 10 game hit streak, and isn’t baseball a game of inches.