Friday night was the opener of a three game series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Oakland Athletics. It was billed as having the makings of great pitchers duel between Aaron Sanchez and Sonny Gray. However, prior to the game, the Blue Jays and their fans were hit with the announcement that first baseman Chris Colabello was suspended for 80 games due to violating the Major League Baseball drug policy. The expected enthusiasm of the first game of a home stand clashed with the shock, disbelief and disappointment of the suspension.
At 7:06 pm Aaron Sanchez took the mound, and it was pretty evident early on he was having trouble commanding the curveball, hitting the second hitter Chris Coghlan. The Athletic hitters were then able to sit on his fastball. They scored one in the first, but could have been worse had it not been for an outstanding play by Ryan Goins. The hard contact continued next inning where Chris Coghlan, playing for the injured Danny Valencia, hammered a two out, opposite-field homerun to make it 4-0. Sanchez eventually would be removed with one out in the fourth trailing 6-1. Sanchez’s line was 4.1IP, 6ER, 10H, 1BB, 3K, 1WP, 1HBP. 1HR. 85 pitches/63 strikes.
Sonny Gray controlled the game early striking out 5 of the first 6 Jays. However, the Jays would slowly mount a comeback late in the game with single runs in the sixth and seventh. Gray’s final line was 7IP, 3ER, 6H, 3BB, 7K. 1HR. 100 pitches/59 strikes.
Again the early season struggles came to haunt the Blue Jays. In the sixth inning, they had the bases loaded with no one out and the heart of the order up. They were again unable to get clutch hits and only scored one run. Also, once again, the bullpen couldn’t hold it to a one run deficit. This time Roberto Osuna gave up Khris Davis’ second two run double of the night to restore the A’s three run lead. The Jays would not score in the 9th.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
After a botched double play in the second inning, Chris Coglan hammered the next pitch for an opposite field three run homerun. This increased the WPA by 22.4% and gave the A’s a 4-0 lead.
Worst Play of the Game by WPA
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with runners on first and second, trailing by one run, Ryan Goins grounded out (-.122 WPA) to end the inning. The rally was ended, and came up short.
Colabello wasn’t the only player missing from the lineup. It was announced that due to nagging injuries, Michael Saunders (sore hamstring), and Troy Tulowitzki (sore hip), would not be in the lineup. These situations will be interesting to monitor as both players have had trouble staying healthy and on the field in their careers. Also, in the top of the sixth inning, Josh Thole came out to catch in place of Russell Martin. It was later revealed he was removed with a stiff neck, but for precautionary reasons. The one area on this team the Jays can’t afford an injury is catcher, so a speedy recovery is crucial for Russell Martin.
Major League Debut
Chad Girodo, who was recalled to replace Colabello, entered in the top of the fifth with one out and a runner on second. He stranded the runner and proceeded to pitch 1.2 innings, including getting first career strikeout. His pitching helped to keep the Jays in the game through the middle innings.
Saturday the Jays will play game two of this three game series. Chris Bassitt faces off against JA Happ. Hopefully it will be an overall better day for the Blue Jays, and the late offensive outburst is a sign of more things to come. First pitch will be at 1:07 pm EST.
Lead photo-John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports