Despite a really strong 8-inning outing by Marcus Stroman Thursday night, the Jays found themselves down 2-0 after the 4th inning, when in the 5th the reigning MVP Josh Donaldson launched a 424 ft 3-run homerun to the centre field 2nd level.
With the Jays leading 3-2, Tulowitzki drove a homer down the left field line for a nice insurance run. It was more like a REassurance run, letting everyone know that the Tulo that we know and love is still in there somewhere just making his way out.
Did you notice…?
Do you know what I’ve noticed that’s really cute? Have you ever noticed that whenever Smoak closes out a game at 1st base (and the Jays have won), Donaldson and Smoak will meet each other on the mound and hug? Maybe they just get there first for the team high 5s. Or maybe they’re buddies? I never see them hugging anyone else.
Anyway, Osuna the bett-a man. He’s a Mexican rock.
Full House Home Opener
I was one of the 48 871 who was at the Rogers Centre for the home opener of 2016. Marcus Stroman pitching. Josh Donaldson playing despite his calf strain. The place – was – packed! Josh gets presented his AL MVP award by George Bell. New logos are unveiled. And the players run onto the field with their names announced, but oops! The announcer skips Michael Saunders who runs out while the announcer’s already moved on to Russell Martin. Ouch! The nice, polite Canadian, who’s dreamed of playing for the Blue Jays, who missed ALL of last season with a busted knee, who no one talked about because we all talked about Stroman’s busted knee, finally gets to start the 2016 Home Opener…and they skip his name…
What else was funny? I don’t know how many times clips from last year’s playoffs will be on the Jumbotron this season, but I loved seeing David Price up there celebrating with the Jays, and he and his team watching it from the Boston dugout.
In 2015, the Blue Jays went 93-69 scoring a total of 891 runs, by far the most runs in the League. Now, how many times did the Jays score 7 or more runs? 57 times.
How many times did the Jays LOSE when they scored 7 or more runs? 4.
So the probability of winning when they scored at least 7? 93%.
Well, unfortunately Friday night’s game went against the odds.
The bottom of the 4th was an awesome half inning. The Jays went into it behind 2-1, but then, Michael Saunders gets on base, Russell Martin gets his first hit of the season, Ryan Goins gets on, then Darwin Barney hits a single and Saunders scores. Kevin Pillar is then hit by pitch right in the helmet, and Martin scores. (You can tell Pillar used to play football, because he never seems too bothered by getting hit in the head!). So with the bases still loaded and no one out, who comes to bat but the AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, who proceeds to hit the 2nd Grand Slam of his career! So perfect, and we ultimately leave the inning with a 7-2 lead.
So what happened? How did we end up losing our much anticipated Home Opener 8-7? At the top of 6th, Marcus Stroman got yanked after he loaded the bases. Then Brock Holt proceeded to hit HIS Grand Slam with Jesse Chavez pitching. How irritating that they rained on our Grand Slam parade! The crowd was shocked. It was silent at Rogers Centre as all 48 871 of us watched the ball sail over the right field wall. Silent as the 4 BoSoxers trotted around the bases. Chavez then got out of the inning, with a flyout and a strikeout, and walked back to the dugout, shaking his head. And then in the 7th, Storen left 2 runners on and these 2 scored with Brett Cecil on the mound, putting the Red Sox ahead 8-7.
The Jays made a comeback attempt in the 8th replacing Barney with Smoak to hit, then replacing Smoak with Carrera to run. Carrera proceeds to successfully steal 2nd base, and the crowd is cheering again. It looks like we’ve got a chance when Donaldson gets into the batter’s box, but no, he grounds out to end the inning. So, guess what, who’s going to play 3rd base now? Russell Martin who proceeds to field a groundball and throws out the runner at 1st.
In total, the Jays went through 6 pitchers, Stroman, Chavez, Storen, Cecil, Floyd, Biagini in that order.
Seem a bit unusual to you? I get that Gibbons is feeling out the bullpen, and they need to work or the Spring Training work is wasted, and yeah, the bullpen failed us. But obviously the decision to bring Chavez in for Stroman wasn’t a good one. Easy to say in retrospect. His win probability in a clutch situation 2015 was 0.01. I’m assuming bases fully loaded is considered high leverage?
Should Floyd have come in next instead of Chavez? Should Stroman have been left in?
Maybe there was no intention to use Floyd but they were forced to later when Cecil didn’t have it? Maybe the 5-run lead at the time seemed a safe enough position to have Chavez pitch? Not sure.
As with the last game, I would argue that a WIN would have been a big deal, it being the home opener and the most anticipated sports event in Canada for the past 6 months, and that they needed to bring out their best and do what they needed to win, then hey go ahead and start experimenting after that. They say 10-15 more games and they’ll have the bullpen settled. Man that sounds like a long time. The sooner the better.
Is it weird that rather than feeling all fired up, I breathed a sigh of relief when the Toronto Blue Jays won out over the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. I had been anticipating this game and was relieved to see that the Jays team wasn’t suddenly a disaster and still had the chops that we have been pinning our dreams of another pennant on. They did everything we could have asked for in an opening day game.
Our newly self-minted ace Marcus Stroman pitched 8+ innings! And then turned things over to our awesome 21-year-old closer Roberto Osuna who got the save. This 1-2 punch beat out Chris Archer, one of the top pitchers currently in MLB. Maybe Marcus will give him mighty competition in the rankings.
We saw a Jays homerun. That was Troy Tulowitzki who has had a great spring, who shot the first homerun of the season over the left field wall and drove in Encarnacion giving us the 5-1 lead that we needed. We also saw some trademark Tulo spinning throws to first to get the batter out.
We saw our biggest hitters play smart when they took a patient approach to the down and away ball and sent them all to right field leading to Encarnacion bringing in Donaldson and Bautista on his single in the first inning. That was beautifully encouraging.
And we saw Colabello move his feet and actually get them in the air to save a base hit to right field. Later, he fielded another ball but missed the tag on Kiermaier but did tag the base ahead of the runner. Colabello often defends his defensive abilities. The only thing that I thought was a bit odd, was that he started arguing with the ump before he ensured the play is complete when no one was touching the base. He was right though and we won the first review.
All in all, a great game, and we can all breath a collective sigh of relief that the team is indeed intact. Tulo looks great, Stroman looks great. If they can stay healthy, well, 161 games to go!