The Blue Jays faced the Baltimore Orioles in the first game of a pivotal series coming down the stretch of the wild card race on Tuesday night. Entering the game, the Jays held a slim one game lead over Baltimore. The team could not have started any better than they did. Impromptu lead-off hitter Ezequiel Carrera drew a walk against Orioles’ starter Kevin Gausman, perfectly setting the table for Donaldson. Josh got a pitch to his liking in a hitters count and drove the ball over the left field wall. Two batters into the game for the Jays and they had already put up more runs than Baltimore would be able to plate for the entire game.
Aaron Sanchez was instrumental again in limiting the opposition to only one run. His location was tremendous tonight and he was able to mix in quality changeups and curveballs to keep the Baltimore hitters from sitting on his sinker. Tonight, he had his swing-and-miss stuff, causing 10 Orioles to strikeout over six innings of work. Considering the Red Sox look like they have the division all but clinched, Sanchez will be set to pitch the wild card game if the Jays make it.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
It’s no surprise that the top play of the game goes to Josh Donaldson. It happened early on, the second at-bat the Jays had in the game. Carrera worked a walk against Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman and the reigning MVP hit his 37th dinger of the season. Gausman missed with the first two pitches of the at-bat; Donaldson, somewhat curiously, let a 2-0 fastball right down the pipe go past him. When the count was 2-1, however, he got the exact same fastball and crushed it to left centre. Even though the homer came in the first inning, this increased the Jays’ chance to win by 0.153 WPA.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
There is a tie between Machado and Alvarez for the worst play of the game. So naturally, Manny Machado had the worst play of the game during today’s game. With men on first and second with only one out, Machado cranked a liner to the right of Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo made an incredible dive and came away with the ball in his glove. Machado only decreased the Orioles chance of winning by 0.050 WPA; or rather Tulo increased the Jays’ chance to win by that amount with this slick play.
Aaron Sanchez is Overpowering
Once again, Aaron Sanchez displayed his full arsenal of talent against an offensively oriented Baltimore Orioles club. He limited them to one run during his six innings and showcased an impressive ability to locate his sinking fastball. I have never seen a pitcher with such movement on their fastball be able to locate it with the precision that Sanchez does. He can locate his pitch down and away to a right handed hitter. Think about that. What is a batter supposed to do when a pitch starts belt high and nearly half a foot off the outside of the plate and then it darts its way to the outside edge? Not to mention that the pitch is 96 mph. Needless to say, I am excited to watch Sanchez pitch in the wild card game… I mean, he has to be the starter right?
Trend to Watch
The most alarming concern right now for the Jays is the health of Devon Travis. He re-injured his shoulder in last night’s game (presumably in the brawl with the Yankees). I don’t mind Barney taking his place but I would prefer a player that can drive the ball opposed to one who lays down sac bunts. Although, I will eat my words tonight, since Barney dropped a sac bunt that moved Pillar up to second and then he was cashed on a single by Carrera.
Two more games against the Orioles in Rogers Centre. The Jays have a chance to close out Baltimore from the first wild card spot. Going to be a fun week!