We’re nearly halfway through the season, the all-star break is approaching, and the Jays are at a crossroads, unable to crack .500, with a group of pending free agents and a team that can’t stay off the DL. Going to Kansas City for the last part of the road trip, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be it, if we were swept would players be traded? I didn’t want to think like that, no Jays fan wants to, so we prayed, prayed that we could at least win this series, and delay what looks like the inevitable.
For the Jays today, we had a new face, because why the hell not. Left-Handed Outfielder Ian Parmley came up from Triple A Buffalo to start in Right Field for Today. Smoaky given a night off with Morales sliding into first base in his first trip back home. Joey Bats would DH, with Russell Martin catching, and Goins at second. Dwight Smith Jr stays at left. God knows the batting lineup is pretty screwed up, as it goes in this order:
Joey Bats, Martin, Donaldson, Morales, Tulo, Smith Jr, Pillar, Goins, Parmley. We probably aren’t going to score many today, and we’re up against Jake Junis.
Pitching for us today would be the mighty J.A Happ, looking for three straight wins.
Joey Bats would leadoff the game on the right track, hitting through the shift, singling to right field. Martin would look at a full count strike, and with Joey Bats running, it was a strike em out throw em out DP. Junis would strike JD swinging to end the inning.
Happ would have the longest 1-2-3 inning in history in the first, a 21-pitch inning keeping it scoreless after one (a rare occurrence for us recently). Parmley would be called into action immediately, catching a regulation ball on the run for the first out.
Smith Jr would hit a 2-out single, slapping it to right, a balk would advance him to second. Pillar though would strikeout to leave him stranded at second. Happ meanwhile would sweep through the second again.
The 3rd was light on action until a Joey Bats fly ball was misread by Lorenzo Cain in center, the ball coming off of his webbing and falling safe, keeping the inning alive. Russell Martin would then smash a ball that I thought Moustakas dropped, it turned out that he probably saved a run getting the ball down and still in the infield. Runner on first and second for Donaldson, who would again strike out to end the inning.
Happ would be perfect through three, with Goins making a great play to end the inning. He took 20 pitches to get through the second and third, less than it took to get three batters in the first.
Morales would leadoff and reach on a HBP. Tulo would then bat the first run in, an RBI double scoring Morales from first, a crappy throw allowing Morales to get home. Smith Jr would then advance Tulo to third with a deep flyout. Pillar would get to a 3-0 count with the chance to score Tulo, and would eventually walk. A wild pitch would score Tulo, and advance Pillar to second, a Goins groundout would then advance Pillar to third.
So this meant a golden opportunity for Ian Parmley to get his first big league RBI. Parmley would groundout to end the inning. BTW, that Parmley bloke has got some ‘wheels’.
Happ’s perfect game would end in the fourth, with a near-end with Donaldson making a backhand catch, before the actual end with a double from Jorge Bonifacio. Happ would get out of the inning though, a groundout by Cain followed by a footrace between Happ and Hosmer to the bag which Happ won keeping the game at 2-0 after four.
Both pitchers went 1-2-3 in the fifth, or at least should have. The shift was played against Brandon Moss, and we went against it, the Bringer of Rain nearly making a play, nearly. Escobar would foul out to Martin to end the inning. After five, Jays lead 2-0.
Like the second, Smith Jr would single down the middle to bring Pillar to the plate with two outs. This time, Smith Jr would be stranded as Pillar would fly out.
Happ continued to deal, and got a borderline pitch on a full count to boot, again sweeping through the side. Still 2-0 after six
Junis came out to start the seventh, it didn’t look like a good idea for the Royals as Go-Go walked to leadoff, a sac bunt by debutant Parmley would advance Goins to second. That would end Junis’ night, as Junis would receive an ovation by the Kaufmann Stadium crowd. He’d be replaced by Aussie Peter Moylan.
Joey Bats would strike out on Moylan’s sweeping slider, before Russell Martin worked out that Moylan is just like Joe Smith, and just laid off everything. He’d walk Martin, before Donaldson would strike out with a nasty slider, the bat flying towards third base on his whiff.
Lorenzo Cain would leadoff the seventh with a hustle double, felt like shades of David Price’s game in the playoffs here in 2015. So think about the following play, a Ryan Goins error, my god. Men on first and third. Smith Jr would nearly make an awesome play, but again, nearly. That would be a RBI single for Sal Perez, and men on first and second with no outs. A Moustakas pop-out gave us one out. Happ would strikeout out Moss to gave the Jays hope, but Gibby wouldn’t allow Happ to get out of it himself, giving the ball to Danny Barnes.
Danny would do it as well, a fly-out by Escobar to Pillar in center allowing the Jays to escape the jam with a 2-1 lead.
Tulo would get a one-out infield single, Smith’s third hit of the game would then put runners on second and third with only an out in the eighth. So again, Pillar would come up with the chance for an RBI. For the third time, he did nothing, a groundout leaving the runners on second and third. Darwin Barney would pinch-hit for Goins, but could only ground-out to short, stranding the pair.
The Royals would get a one-out double, with Smith Jr losing the ball in the lights. Barnes would get a pop-out from Bonifacio, before Tepera would come on with the goal of holding the lead. Tepera would do his job, striking out Lorenzo Cain.
In the ninth, Joey Bats would again single through the shift, and a Martin walk would put runners on first and second with one out. The Bringer of Rain would then single to score Joey Bats, before Morales singled home Russell Martin, giving the Jays much needed breathing space. Tulo would grounded into a fielders choice, with Smoaky (pinch-running for Morales) out at second. Dwight Smith Jr would strike out to end the inning, a three-run lead for the closer.
Tonight, the closer wasn’t Osuna, but Ryan Tepera. Tepera would be hard hit. A liner to Parmley in right, followed by a double by Perez. Tulo would catch the bloop, a good play especially seeing that if that lands, it’s big trouble for the Jays. Tepera would then have a long at-bat, which would end in a wild pitch and men at the corners with two outs. So up would come Alcides Escobar, and Tepera would be very unlucky, a bloop single scoring Perez and knocking Tepera out.
Loup would come in for the save, just one out to get against the lefty Alex Gordon. Well you know how Loup has gone against lefty’s, Gordon singling with the first pitch. So Grilli Vanilli would come on for a save now. Well WE LOST, A TWO RUN DOUBLE BY MERRIFIELD LOSING THE GAME.
Both pitches had very strong nights. For J.A, he’d pitch six and two-third, giving up just the solitary run off of 4 hits and 5 strikeouts. For Junis, he’d pitch six and a third and give up two runs, that off the back of 6 hits, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts.
To conclude, I’d like to bring back the closer situation. I don’t know why Osuna didn’t pitch today, but I like Tepera pitching that ninth. It was a three-run lead, an easy save, so why waste Osuna. Tepera didn’t get the save, but those things happen sometimes. AND WE BLEW THE GAME. Good bullpen management by Pete Walker and Gibby (I think), pity Loup wasn’t kept in the game.
From here on out, Jason Grilli will be known as Grilli Vanilli, because it turned out that what happened last year was a sham, with someone else with the real talent masquerading as Jason Grilli.
An early start tomorrow. Jason Vargas up against Marco Estrada. Osuna will be available to pitch tomorrow as well.