If you’re a fan of good ol’ fashion pitchers duels, then tonight’s game was for you. Jose Quintana took the mound for the White Sox in the final game of the series, while Marco Estrada toed the rubber for the Blue Jays. Both pitchers aren’t necessarily the most recognized around the league, but since last season’s all-star game, they rank No. 1 and No. 2 in ERA. Tonight’s game was an appropriate example of why these two have been so good at suppressing runs as of late. They pitched on the corners and changed speeds exceptionally well. Much to the dismay of the White Sox hitters, Estrada was showing off the 13 mph difference between his fastball and his changeup tonight.
Having said that, this game took a dramatic turn in the 7th inning. Estrada started to get into trouble with two men on and one out. He was able to strike out Avisail Garcia, which brought up Dioner Navarro. The ex-Jay is hardly a likely candidate to hit a triple, but on Wednesday night at the Rogers Center, he came through in the clutch and broke the scoreless affair. Jesse Chavez promptly replaced Estrada and gave up another triple, this time to Austin Jackson.
That wasn’t the end of the festivities for the top of the 7th inning. Skipper John Gibbons voiced his displeasure with the strike zone all evening, and finally home plate ump John Tumpane had enough. Gibbons got ejected, but I don’t blame him too much. The strike zone was exceptionally generous throughout the entire game, but it was consistently bad if nothing else. The zone was just the tip of the iceberg that eventually sent Gibby over the edge. The lack of offensive production from the Jays recently has likely taken its toll, and the Jays wasted another good outing from their starter.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
The top play of the game was the two-run triple by Dioner Navarro. With one swing of the bat, Navarro added 0.326 win-probability for his team. This is no surprise, as two teams combined to score four runs, and in this one play, two of those were scored.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
Former Blue Jays take the cake for our top play and bottom play of the game. The bottom honour goes to red bull-loving, glasses-wearing Brett Lawrie! In the second inning, with men on first and second with no outs, Lawrie grounded into a double play started by Tulowitzki. He decreased the White Sox’s win-probability by 0.108.
I thought Estrada pitched extremely well for the majority of the game. As previously mentioned, he struggled in the 7th inning, but prior to that he was using an effective mix of his fastball and changeup. It really is amazing to see him work the top of the zone as consistently as he does. His changeup was devastating as usual, and Marco tossed in the occasional curveball which truly kept the White Sox hitters off balance.
In classic Estrada fashion, he worked the fastball up and the changeup down. Estrada has been nothing but consistent for the better part of 25 starts and we need him to keep this up if the Jays are to overcome their offensive woes. Hopefully the nagging right shoulder that Estrada kept touching throughout the game turns out to be nothing other than a little stiffness. The last thing the Jays need right now is for one of their most reliable starters to go down with an injury.
The Jays have an off day on Thursday and will then face Tampa Bay on Friday at the Trop. They will play the Rays in a three game weekend set where J.A. Happ will take the mound versus Drew Smyly in the opener. Happ has been tremendous thus far for the Blue Jays and we hope he can continue this trend. Perhaps the Jays bats can get something going against a out-of-character Tampa Bay starting rotation.
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