After getting silenced by two incredibly lacklustre pitchers in the first two games of this series, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Blue Jays bats woke up and destroyed Baltimore. That didn’t happen tonight. The Blue Jays continued to let mediocre pitching get the better of them, though thanks to their own fantastic pitching, they still came out on top on this one by a score of 5-3.
Aaron Sanchez was able to minimize the damage tonight, allowing zero earned runs on five hits and three walks. One run did come across to score thanks to a Josh Donaldson error in the fifth inning. Joaquin Benoit came into the game for Sanchez after he left at the end of the sixth inning, and continued to provide scoreless relief for the Blue Jays since coming over from the Mariners. He was followed by Brett Cecil in the eighth inning, who recorded one out and allowed a single, and then by Scott Feldman, who got Steve Pearce and Matt Wieters out to end the inning. Roberto Osuna gave up two runs in the ninth inning, but he was able to close it out to give the Blue Jays the victory.
On the offensive side of things, the Blue Jays had nine hits and two walks, leading to five runs scored. On a normal night, that is more than fine, but against a pitcher who came into the game with a 5.69 ERA in 2016, you’d really expect more from the Blue Jays. Either way, the Blue Jays hit three home runs tonight, one from each of Jose Bautista, Russell Martin, and Michael Saunders, and that was more than enough to beat the Orioles tonight.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
The Blue Jays got their offense going early in this one. With Michael Saunders on first after drawing a walk and two outs, Russell Martin slammed an opposite field shot to score two runs and extend the Blue Jays’ lead to 3-0 before the Orioles even stepped up to the plate. This play increased the Blue Jays’ odds of winning the game by 16.8 percentage points.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
With the bases loaded and Aaron Sanchez struggling in the fifth inning, Mark Trumbo stepped up to the plate looking to give the Orioles the lead, or at least tie the 3-1 ballgame. Instead, Trumbo hit a relatively weak flyball to right field that Jose Bautista easily tracked down, preserving the lead, and lowering the Orioles’ win probability by 10.6 percentage points.
Ups and Downs for Aaron
Tonight represented Aaron Sanchez’s first start back since his little trip down to single-A Dunedin while he was being skipped in the rotation, and while the end results look fantastic, the process was a sketchier affair. Throughout the night Sanchez was not able to finish the Orioles’ batters off with two strikes, and only recorded two strikeouts in the entire start. He had to work hard for all of his outs, and thus, his pitch count was elevated and he needed 112 pitches to get through six innings. In the end, this was a good start considering Sanchez hadn’t pitched in 10 days, and something for Sanchez to build on as he tries to lead the Blue Jays to the division crown in this final month of the season.
Trend to Watch
Michael Saunders has struggled since the All-Star break, but he continued to decimate Orioles pitching tonight, going 1-2 with two walks and a home run tonight. He went 2-3 with a home run in his other start in this Orioles series, and hopefully these two good games will jump start him to a great end of the season.
The Blue Jays will take an off day on Thursday after taking two of three from the Orioles this week in Baltimore. Starting Friday, the Blue Jays will visit the Tampa Bay Rays for a three game series. The Rays, current occupiers of last place in the AL East, will look to play spoiler, even though they failed at doing so against the Red Sox in their series this week. Game one of the series will see Francisco Liriano (7-12, 5.22) take on Alex Cobb, making his first major league start since 2014. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.
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