After Josh Donaldson was thrown out of the game in the first inning, the Blue Jays’ offence reverted back to its bizarre 2016 form on Saturday afternoon in Minnesota. Facing Twins’ rookie lefty Pat Dean (who?), who had allowed 14 hits in his first eight big league innings, the Blue Jays managed just three hits in six innings. The only runs they managed to score came on a two-run homer from Jose Bautista. On the pitching side of things, JA Happ continued to impress, taking a shutout into the eighth inning. However, while Toronto appeared to be cruising towards its third win in a row, the game unraveled in that eighth inning. Happ surrendered a two run double to Danny Santana, and the bullpen wasn’t able to keep things close, as Gavin Floyd surrendered a three run home run to Eduardo Nunez two hitters after Happ was removed from the game. Kevin Jepsen would close things out (while allowing a home run to Michael Saunders) to add another L to the Blue Jays record. To add insult to injury, the Jays were also the first team to surrender five runs to the Minnesota Twins in one inning this season.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
Danny Santana’s 8th inning double of J.A. Happ increased Minnesota’s chance of winning by 40.4 percentage points and set the stage for Nunez’s three run home run that would ultimately win them the game.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
On a pretty throw by Kevin Pillar, Eduardo Nunez was thrown out at third base after a Miguel Sano fly out during the fourth inning. While the play ultimately didn’t crush Minnesota’s ability to win the game, it did reduce their probability of winning by a game worst 12.4 percentage points.
Ump Show in Minnesota
Josh Donaldson was ejected in the first inning for shouting something in the direction of umpire Toby Banser after grounding out. Donaldson wasn’t even talking to Banser – he was responding to Twins players yelling at him – but the home plate umpire couldn’t figure that out and ejected the reigning MVP. Between umpires’ short fuses when it comes to ejecting both players and managers, and their inability to handle in game conflicts between teams without escalation, it can be very frustrating for fans of the game and casual viewers. This is especially true when the best players are forced to watch the game from the clubhouse.
Controlling the Running Game
Much has been said about Martin’s offensive struggles this season, but Martin has also struggled behind the plate. After leading the league last year in caught stealing rate, Martin is just 5/17 on the season. He was battling some nagging injuries earlier on this season, and his difficulties throwing people out are more than likely attributed to this than a drastic drop off in defensive ability. Danny Santana has been running frequently against Martin this series and had third base stolen again today, if not for Brian Dozier being hit with a pitch. Martin has been looking a little bit better at the plate of late; look for him to start to turn things around defensively too.
Jose Bautista: Leadoff hitter
Jose may prefer to hit lower in the order, but the leadoff role appears to be agreeing with him. Bautista homered and walked for a second straight day as John Gibbons continued to roll with the newly shuffled lineup. While Jose does posses far more power than your typical leadoff hitter, it has been nice seeing one of the team’s best hitters get more plate appearances than anyone else in the lineup.
The Jays series finish their four game series in Minnesota tomorrow afternoon 2:00 EST when Marcus Stroman (4-1, 4.23 ERA) takes on Phil Hughes (0-1, 4.50 ERA). After losing two series to Texas and Tampa Bay, a series win in Minnesota would put the Jays back within two games of the .500 mark.
Lead Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports