Marco Estrada returned and tried to shake of the rust, and James Paxton pitched on ‘home soil’ with a polished approach as the Jays faced the Mariners on Friday night. Save a Canadian vs. Canadian home run from Michael Saunders off of Paxton, the Jays couldn’t find a way to get a big hit with runners on. They fell 2-1 in a game that seemed to have a lot of runners, but not a lot of scoring.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
Seth Smith of the Mariners gets the gold star for his double in the fifth. The big hit drove in Shaw O’Malley to put the Mariners permanently ahead and raise their WPA by 13.7%.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
Michael Saunders gets ‘credit’ for the bottom play of the game at -17% WPA with his strikeout in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on. The at-bat might have unfolded differently as Seattle closer Steve Cishek had been a little wild, but Mike Everett decided that a pitch 13 inches off the ground would be called strike two. Saunders whiffed on the next pitch, ending the game.
James Paxton took a mallet to the middle of the Jays order, the 2-3-4 hitters combined were two for nine with seven strikeouts. In fact, he notched six strikeouts in the first six appearances of Donaldson, Encarnacion and Tulowitzki. When the biggest bats in the lineup are whiffing like crazy, you might be having a special night. The potential in that 99mph fastball is surely what both the Jays and Mariners saw when they drafted him.
Trend to Watch
Josh Thole is going to be filling in for Russell Martin for a little bit. As you may have heard, Martin fell down after a too-long sauna stay, and won’t be able to play for an indefinite amount of time. Will he be able to play like a fringe average major leaguer on offence, and not the .160 hitter we’ve seen so far? Will we see an impact on the pitcher’s results? Catching is an area where the Jays have no depth, and any DL time for Martin will expose a severe weakness.
Hisashi Iwakuma, who, thankfully, is nothing at all like James Paxton, will face off against the Jays and R.A. Dickey on Saturday at 1:07 pm. This might be a fun one if the hot air is rising in the dome.
Lead Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA Today Sports