MLB: Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays

Recap: Rangers 2, Blue Jays 1; Dyson Makes No New Fans, Stops Toronto Rally Short

The Toronto Blue Jays opened a four game series on Monday night in a rematch with their 2015 ALDS opponent Texas Rangers.  The last time these two met one of the most bizarre and dramatic seventh innings occurred in baseball history, culminating in the famous Jose Bautista “Bat Flip”.

Starting for Texas was A.J. Griffin, who has missed effectively the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery while he was with the Oakland Athletics.  He was signed in the off-season by the Rangers to a minor league contract and made the team out of spring training.  He was able to keep the Blue Jays hitters off balance (sound familiar?) and pitched six innings allowing one run on three hits, walking two and striking out nine.  Griffin was able to effectively mix a 90 mph fastball with a 68 mph curveball. Yes, a 90 mph fastball and a 68 mph curveball, with a separation of 22 mph.

RA Dickey came into this game having only thrown one quality start in his first five outings of 2016.  He had been plagued by inconsistency in his starts, but on Monday night he gave the Blue Jays his longest start of the season. Dickey’s pitched six and a third great innings, allowing one run on six hits and three walks, while striking out three batters.

However, the bullpens would end up deciding this contest, with the Jays bullpen blinking first. In the eighth inning, Gavin Floyd surrendered a solo home run and the Jays lost another game by one run, 2-1.

Top Play of the Game by WPA

In the top of the eighth inning with the score tied at one, Nomar Mazara hammered a home run to deep centerfield to give the Rangers a lead they would not relinquish.  This featured a WPA increase of 0.249.

Bottom Play of the Game by WPA

In the bottom of that same eight inning, Sam Dyson entered the game and the first two runners reached base via a walk and single respectively. Jose Bautista came to the plate for a rematch of the Game 5 at-bat, however, Dyson battled his demons and won this contest by getting Bautista to fly out. After a walk to Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki hit what appeared to be a sacrifice fly to right field. However, Nomar Mazara came up throwing and nailed Michael Saunders at the plate.  This preserved the Rangers lead 2-1 and resulted in a -.392 WPA.

Just a Regular* Seventh Inning

It seems when these two teams play, the seventh inning of the game is never ordinary.  With the bases loaded, Rougned Odor hit a fly ball deep enough for a sacrifice fly and appeared to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.  However, Delino DeShields attempted to tag and go to second on the same play, and was thrown out by Pillar.  As is customary for these teams a seventh inning challenge was used and it was revealed DeShields was tagged before Mitch Moreland could cross the plate.  As a result the run didn’t count and that kept the score tied for the moment.  Never a dull seventh inning between these two teams.

Stay Hot, Kevin Pillar

After slashing .188/.235/.271 as the leadoff hitter to begin the season, Kevin Pillar has been on fire of late.   Tonight, Pillar went three for four, while also making a couple of nice defensive and baserunning plays. Pilar is now batting .290/.324/.400, which although seems good, could be a lot better if Kevin learned to walk at just at league average rate.

Up Next

The Jays will try to get back in the win column Tuesday as Marco Estrada (1-2, 2.92) will take on left hander Martin Perez (1-2, 4.20) starting at 7:07 pm eastern. Hopefully the offense will show up and support the quality pitching.

Lead Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

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