The Blue Jays hit three home runs en route to a 5-2 win this afternoon at Rogers Centre. The Jays got to Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray early, when Russell Martin tagged him for a three-run homer in the first inning. The Jays were unable to capitalize on their strong start however, as Ray held the Jays offence scoreless until the sixth inning, when Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki both hit solo home runs – Edwin off Ray, and Tulo off reliever Zack Godley. Despite struggling to throw strikes this afternoon, J.A. Happ battled through five innings of work, limiting the damage to two runs on six hits. The Blue Jays patchwork relief corps were sharp as well. Gavin Floyd, Drew Storen and Jason Grilli each pitched scoreless frames, allowing one hit and striking out four over three innings of work ahead of Roberto Osuna. Despite mustering only five hits against the Diamondbacks this afternoon, the three home runs would be enough offence for the Jays to win 5-2 and split the two game series with Arizona.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
What should come as a surprise to no one, the highest play by WPA was Russell Martin’s first inning home run off of Robbie Ray. After striking out Saunders for the second out of the inning, Martin cashed Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion, providing all the offence the Blue Jays would need. The play increased the Jays’ chances of winning by 24.7 percentage points.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
The bottom play of the game came in the top of the 3rd inning, when J.A. Happ struck out Welington Castillo with the bases loaded. Despite retiring the first two hitters of the inning, Happ walked three Diamondbacks hitters, around an error by Darrell Ceciliani that loaded the bases and saw one D-Backs runner score. The timely strikeout limited the damage to one run and lowered the D-Backs’ chances of winning by 8.3 percentage points.
Long Time Coming: Devon Travis Hits Leadoff
In a move that had been anticipated for most of the season and offseason, Devon Travis was inserted into the leadoff spot on Wednesday afternoon. With Ezequiel Carrera out and Jose Bautista injured, the latest shuffling of the Blue Jays lineup saw Travis leading off with Donaldson and Encarnacion hitting second and third. Seen by many people around the team as the ideal candidate to hit ahead of the Jays big boppers, Travis had yet to be used atop the lineup due to injury and the success that came with Jose Bautista’s stint as leadoff hitter. In his debut, Travis went 0-4 with 2 K’s.
Another Outfield Injury
With Jose Bautista’s foot injury officially diagnosed as Turf Toe, his replacement, Ezequiel Carrera was also held out of the lineup on Wednesday afternoon, nursing a sore Achilles. Carrera is listed as day to day right now, but it will be interesting to see who the Jays run with (is it finally Dalton Pompey time???) if Carrera’s absence is longer than a day or two. Former first round pick Darrell Ceciliani got the start on Wednesday afternoon.
Vintage J.A. Happ
So far this season we have seen J.A. Happ evolve as a pitcher. His revamped approach on the mound includes inducing more grounders, generating fewer strikeouts, and working deeper into the game than in years past. The reinvented Happ has enjoyed success with his new approach, pitching his way to a 3.41 ERA. This afternoon however, Happ looked more like the pitcher of years past, struggling with his control (four BB) and inducing more fly balls and K’s than grounders. Despite looking shaky at points, Happ minimized the damage against him over five innings work before handing things over to the pen.
After a brief two games home stand and an off day tomorrow, the Jays head to Chicago for the weekend to take on the White Sox (35-36). The series opener features a series of young flamethrowers as Aaron Sanchez (7-1, 3.35 ERA) takes on lefty Carlos Rodon (2-6, 4.16ERA). While Chicago came out of the gate hot this season, going 17-8 in April, they have struggled of late and currently sit at 35-36 for the season.
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