MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays

Recap: Blue Jays 5, Rays 3; Dickey Dances and Saunders Smashes

Didn’t we just do this? The Blue Jays won another 5-3 game, though they took a bit of a different path to get there today. Dingers, umpires, knuckleballs, and the Blue Jays going to the bullpen early rather than the Rays. R.A. Dickey picked up the win, going the minimum five innings but getting the job done. Drew Smyly notched the loss, allowing five runs over six and two-thirds innings, with most of the damage against him coming on – what else? – home runs. However, they weren’t all from who you’d expect. We also got the first look at new Jays relieves Jesse Chavez and Drew Storen, who appeared in relief of R.A. Dickey. Though both teams threatened in the later frames, neither was able to budge the score, and Roberto Osuna notched his second save of the season.

Kevin Pillar had his first great catch of the year, running headfirst into the wall in the seventh inning:


With the Jays leading 2-1 in the fourth inning and a runner on second base, Michael Saunders hit a home run to centerfield, just beyond a leaping Kevin Kiermaier. That boosted the Blue Jays’ chances to win by 19.3%. It was an encouraging sign from a player who logged all of nine games with the Jays last season, and hit exactly zero home runs.


There were several candidates from the losing side here, with the Rays getting runners on base in several innings. It was in the eighth against Drew Storen that they saw their best chance, with two runners on base and Hank Conger coming to the plate. After running the count full to 3-2, Storen buckled down and struck out Conger with a fastball.  This lowered the Rays’ chances to win by 8.6%, ending the inning with no runners crossing the plate.


With lefthander Drew Smyly on the mound for the Rays, one could be forgiven for assuming it would be one of the Jays’ many right-handed sluggers who would tee off. While Josh Donaldson did have his first dinger of the season, it was lefty swingers Josh Thole and Michael Saunders who got the party started. Thole hit a solo blast just over the wall in right in the third inning, and Saunders hit a two run shot in the fourth. For Saunders, it was his first home run as a Blue Jay, and for Thole, it was his first home run since August 21, 2013 (that tidbit courtesy of’s Gregor Chisholm on Twitter).


The umpires managed to be at the center of two controversial plays during the game. The first was the aforementioned Thole home run in the third inning, where it was initially ruled a double due to fan interference. The Jays challenged, and after review, it was ruled a home run. The other one was a very strange play, when Chris Colabello flied out in foul territory to Steven Souza in the fourth inning. First base umpire Tim Timmons initially ruled it no catch, and Laz Diaz, manning second base, said it was a catch. After a review that took over five minutes, it was determined that Souza caught the ball, and Colabello was called out.

For those curious about why the replay took so long, this is why:


It seemed like Dickey was in trouble a lot of the night, but did a good job minimizing the damage. With two runners in scoring position in the first, neither scored, and though he allowed a home run to Steven Souza, there were no runners on base at the time. When runners did get on base, Dickey did a good job getting harmless outs that prevented the Rays from getting several extra runs. After allowing Jennings to reach in the 6th, he was pulled from the game, and finished with three earned runs over 5+ innings of work.


The season is very young, but Jose Bautista has had two misplays in two games in right field. After dropping a fly ball yesterday, he allowed Kevin Kiermaier to advance to second on a single tonight, making the mistake of throwing behind the speedy Rays center fielder. Alert fans noticed a drop off in Bautista’s defense near the end of last year between declining range and the occasional dropped routine fly. Bautista certainly isn’t paid to be an elite defender, but it would be better if he wasn’t a noticeable liability. Hopefully he cleans up the mistakes.


The Jays look to continue exorcising their Tropicana demons with another win. Tomorrow’s tilt features Aaron Sanchez (7-6, 3.22 ERA in 2015) squaring off against Jake Odorizzi (9-9, 3.35). Same time as tonight, 7:10 PM eastern, at one of the two stadiums that still feature artificial turf. Or the two teams in the AL East whose city name starts with T. Or some other arbitrary comparison to make them seem similar. Baseball is back, friends! Enjoy it.

Lead photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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