That was one heck of a ballgame and it concluded in the best possible outcome, a sweep of the Kansas City Royals. Marcus Stroman was excellent for a second consecutive outing, not giving up a baserunner until the sixth inning. Michael Saunders led the offense with a home run and the game winning RBI in the eighth, cashing in Edwin Encarnacion from second base. The Jays looked to be in control for the majority of the game but never generated a large lead. They led 2-0 through five innings at which point Stroman issued a leadoff walk to Brett Eibner and Alcides Escobar followed that up with an RBI triple. Stroman was able to induce two consecutive ground balls which kept Escobar at third and he polished off Whitt Merrifield to end the threat. That wasn’t the end, however, as in the eighth Brett Eibner hit a game-tying home run and I thought this one was destined for extras. I was quickly proven wrong in the bottom half of the inning as the Jays piled on two runs. Roberto Osuna came out in the ninth and closed out the game, keeping everyone’s blood pressure quite low. The Jays have won five in a row and, it is worth repeating, have swept the Kansas City Royals.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
The best play of the game came late in this one. With the game tied at two’s and Encarnacion standing on second after a two out double, Saunders stepped to the plate. He cranked a liner to center field which scored Encarnacion after a terribly off-line throw by Jarrod Dyson. With one swing of the bat, Saunders increased the Jays chance of winning by 0.281 WPA.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
The worst play in the game occurred in the seventh inning with Salvador Perez at the plate. Eric Hosmer had just singled to right field to lead-off the inning when Perez buried a ball to third base. A relatively routine double play snuffed out anything the Royals had going in the seventh. Perez decreased his team’s chance to win the game by -0.145 WPA by grounding into this double play.
All eyes were on Stroman coming into this start. Over the last two weeks, many pundits were calling for Stroman to be sent down to AAA to work on his delivery and refine his pitches. Last start, Stroman began to silence those critics; going six and two thirds innings allowing just one run while striking out six and walking only one. That was against a red-hot Cleveland team. Tonight was much of the same, as Kansas City was not on the same hot streak as the Indians were but they are the defending World Champs and Stroman had to bring it again tonight. Well, let me tell you, he certainly did. Every single one of the first 15 batters of the game went back to the dugout after their AB. Nine of those 15 batters were retired via the groundball as Stroman’s sinker was on fire tonight. Stroman went eight innings, giving up three hits, striking out six, walking one and allowing two earned runs. Marcus was working on his delivery over the past couple of weeks and it appears the tweaks have worked. He displayed exceptional accuracy tonight, requiring only 85 pitches to get through eight innings. Hopefully Stro-show can continue this new found dominance after the All-Star break.
Michael Saunders Has A Chance To Be An All-Star
Michael Saunders has been named as one of the five remaining AL players that fans can vote into the mid-summer classic. The MLB released a vote total today and it had the west-coast Canadian at the top of the list. It would be truly incredible for the Jays to have four representatives at the All-Star game. He followed up this announcement with a spectacular game, launching a home run to right field and then cashing in the game winning run on a single to center field. Keep it up Saunders and hopefully us fans can vote him in!
The Jays play host to the Detroit Tigers (45-40) for four games starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday. The Jays are 1-2 against Detroit this year and this will be the last meeting between the two teams during the regular season. After that, the All-Star break commences and we will be able to see Encarnacion, Donaldson and Estrada get honoured for their first-half accomplishments. Drew Hutchison (1-0, 5.40) will face Justin Verlander (8-6, 4.11).
Lead Photo: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports