The Blue Jays and Mariners had a pitcher’s duel early on in the game, with J.A. Happ and Wade Miley tossing up zeroes in the first few innings. The Jays broke through against Miley in the fourth inning and added another in the sixth on the way to a 2-0 victory.
Though the Jays have been successful against Miley previously in the left-hander’s career, they weren’t able to manage much against him on this day, as he scattered four hits and two walks over his six innings of work. He did allow a home run to Edwin Encarnacion in the fourth inning and a manufactured run in the sixth, as Josh Thole scored when Josh Donaldson grounded into a double play. The Mariners bullpen kept it clean after that, but it didn’t matter terribly, as a day after scoring 14 runs, they were unable to mount any offense at all.
J.A. Happ may have thrown six shutout innings, but he was not without his jams, walking four hitters and hitting a batter, even though he allowed just one hit. The most trouble he had was a walk to Chris Ianetta followed by him hitting Robinson Cano in the top of the fourth inning, but he struck out Nelson Cruz and Dae-Ho Lee and got Kyle Seager to pop out to quell the threat. Happ seemed to struggle with his control at times, but in the end, got the result he wanted. The Jays bullpen came in and locked down the last three innings, much to the relief of a fanbase used to them making things a little more interesting. There was a pinch-hit appearance from former Jay Adam Lind in the ninth inning, though Jays closer Roberto Osuna struck him out.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
The game was scoreless through four innings, before Encarnacion’s home run off Miley broke the shutout. His solo home run to deep centre field increased the Jays’ chances to win by 13.9 percentage points, and gave them a lead they would not relinquish.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
The Mariners threatened in several innings against Happ. Mike Zunino walked to open up the third inning, and was promptly caught stealing. Happ threw a pitch that bounced well in front of the plate, Thole got to it, but Zunino had already taken off for second. Thole’s throw easily beat the slow footed Mariners catcher, snuffing out a chance for a rally. This lowered their chances to win by 6.6 percentage points. Zunino getting caught stealing was followed by a single, which would have moved him to second if he was still on base.
Figuring Out The Bullpen
Drew Storen being designated for assignment was a mild surprise to those following the Jays. Not based on his performance, but his contract, as the Jays will have to pay around $2 million to make him disappear. It is a signal that the club has not been satisfied with the effort from their bullpen so far, and that some roles are up for grabs. This game had the Jays using their preferred 7-8-9 guys, with Brett Cecil, Jason Grilli, and Roberto Osuna finishing the game cleanly. Cecil having a clean inning was a very encouraging sign, given his struggles of late. The Jays will need him and others to step up down the stretch.
Thole Holds the Fort
Generally, a Josh Thole start has meant one deep, dark hole in the Jays’ lineup, a bottomless pit of despair from which there is no escape. Thole’s last few games have seen him contributing positively on offense. In Thole’s last five starts, he’s 5 for 14 with two doubles, two walks, and five RBIs. Given his abysmal .159/.250/.216 line coming into the game, anything Thole gives them with the bat while Russ Martin sits is a bonus.
Tomorrow has the San Diego Padres making a rare visit to the Rogers Centre, in a game that starts at 7:07 PM ET. The Jays send Aaron Sanchez (10-1, 2.87 ERA) to the mound. The Padres will counter with Colin Rea (5-4, 5.01 ERA). Following the All-Star game, Sanchez has continued to pitch well, even as Jays fans wonder if and when he’ll be sent to the bullpen. Rea is coming off a loss to the Cardinals where he went six innings and allowed four runs. This is the third interleague game he’s started this season.
Lead Photo: Kevin Sousa-USA Today Sports