The Blue Jays continued to struggle in the month of September, dropping the second game of a three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 6-2. Tonight the issue was once again the lack of production from the offense, as they managed just nine hits and two walks in their faint attempt to come out on top in this one. With Josh Donaldson missing his second straight game with what started as “rest” but has been bumped up to a “hip injury”, the bats remained silent. The only offense came off of the bat of Russell Martin, as he hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning, which, at the time, brought the Blue Jays to within one run at 3-2. However, the offense was unable to score for the rest of the night, leaving the bases loaded in the seventh, and going quietly in the eighth and ninth innings.
On the mound, Marcus Stroman was shaky, finishing the evening after the sixth inning, allowing three hits, four walks, and three earned runs. The big blow was a three-run home run off the bat of Alexei Ramirez in the fifth inning. In the bullpen, Joe Biagini came into the game in the seventh inning to relieve Stroman, and gave up his third home run of the season, all of which have come in his past four appearances. That gave the Rays a much needed insurance run, stretching their lead to 4-2. Brett Cecil pitched the eighth inning, allowing a leadoff single to Kevin Kiermaier, but nothing more as he retired the next three batters he faced. Matt Dermody started the ninth inning by allowing a Corey Dickerson single, and was then taken out in favour of Scott Feldman. Feldman fared no better, walking two and eventually allowing Dickerson to score on a fielder’s choice. Aaron Loup came in after Feldman, throwing a wild pitch that brought home a runner, and was replaced by Ryan Tepera, who was finally able to end the top of the ninth and allow the Blue Jays to get one last attempt at a comeback. They did not come back.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
After Corey Dickerson doubled and Kevin Kiermaier walked in the fifth inning, the Rays had runners on first and second with one out for Alexei Ramirez. Ramirez proceeded to hit a three-run home run to open the scoring and give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead. This increased the Rays’ chances of winning by 27.9 percentage points.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
The Blue Jays’ best chance to win this game came in the seventh inning, when Kevin Pillar and Devon Travis reached on singles, and Jose Bautista walked to load the bases for Edwin Encarnacion. With two outs, Encarnacion worked the count to 2-2, but was unable to do anything, striking out on a 93.5 MPH fastball up in the zone. This lowered the Blue Jays’ chances of winning the game by 13.4 percentage points.
When Somebody Says It’s Not About the Defense, It’s About the Defense
Earlier today, I wrote about a few factors that have contributed to the Blue Jays losing their division lead recently, one of which was their lacklustre defense thus far in the month of September. Tonight, the defense was sparkling, turning three double plays behind the Blue Jays pitchers, two on the ground and one via the air. Marcus Stroman wasn’t very sharp with his command tonight, with four walks on the evening, and the ability to erase those added baserunners with some solid defense can go a long way towards having success, or not, as we saw tonight.
The Blue Jays will look to bounce back and win the series against the Rays tomorrow afternoon at the Rogers Centre. Marco Estrada (8-8, 3.68), will look to rebound from a disastrous start to the month of September, against Alex Cobb (0-0, 4.09) of the Rays. First pitch is set for 12:37 PM ET.
Lead Photo: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports