With a difficult stretch in the schedule coming up during which the Jays play three games against both the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, they no doubt were looking to take advantage of a home stand against weaker opponents, beginning with the Angels. While the Jays were firing on all cylinders last night, tonight was just not their night. Marco Estrada, who has scuffled since the implementation of the six-man rotation, got rocked early, giving up back-to-back home runs against the always dangerous Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. In all fairness to Estrada, both pitches were down around the shins of Trout and Pujols and sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the opposing hitters.
All told, Estrada surrendered six earned runs on ten hits (both season highs for Estrada) in five innings of work. The Jays’ offense was unable to get anything going against Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker, who shut out the Jays on three hits through six strong innings. Both Scott Feldman and Aaron Loup gave up a run in relief to make it 8-0 Angels, but those runs made absolutely no difference to the outcome of the game. The Jays did avoid the shutout, when Russell Martin – who leads American League catchers in RBI – singled off JC Ramirez to drive home Josh Donaldson. They scored a second run in the bottom of the ninth to make it 8-2 but it was much too little much too late. Chalk it up to being just one of those nights.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
With the Angels already up 2-0 in the top of the second, Jett Bandy led off the second inning with a single to left field, advancing to second base on a groundout by Kaleb Cowart. A subsequent walk to former Jays infielder Cliff Pennington brought Kole Calhoun to the plate, who doubled to right to score Bandy on what was the top play of the game by WPA (.104).
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
Down 6-0 in the fourth, the Jays attempted to mount a comeback when Josh Donaldson led off the inning with a single to right followed by a walk to Edwin Encarnacion. Russell Martin flied out to right, advancing Donaldson to third. But, Troy Tulowitzki struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, eliminating the possibility of a sacrifice on what was ultimately the bottom play of the game by WPA (-.028).
Trend to Watch
Much has been made of the fact that Estrada has been cold since the implementation of the six-man rotation. In his first two starts since Francisco Liriano was added to the rotation, Estrada gave up a total of eight runs (seven earned) in just nine innings of work. Tonight was no different. While I am loathe to suggest causation with such a small sample size, it was Estrada himself who had stated that he needed to adjust to the additional rest. Whether or not that’s the reason for his recent woes or if there’s some other factor at work is impossible to know, but it will certainly be speculated about in the days to come. One would imagine that if it is indeed the issue, the Jays may attempt to set up their rotation in such a way to allow Estrada to pitch on regular rest. Regardless of the cause, one hopes that Estrada figures it out and can regain the form he’s had for most of the past two seasons.
The Jays will attempt to win the series tomorrow when Cy Young candidate J.A. Happ will take his 3.05 ERA to the mound in search of his 18th victory of the season. He’ll do battle against Jered Weaver, who’s struggled this season to the tune of a 5.47 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. Weaver is a shadow of his former self. His diminished velocity provided a feeding frenzy for the Yankees Friday night, so expect the Jays’ offense to find their groove again. Something else to look forward to: Jose Bautista is expected to return to the lineup. First pitch flies at 7:07 PM ET.
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