Jays Make Small Splash at Trade Deadline

Heading into the trade deadline in 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays stood six games back of first in the AL East. There were 14 deadline deals made, including the signings of LaTroy Hawkins, Ben Revere, and Mark Lowe. Obviously the biggest names to come to Toronto were David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. As soon as the Jays signed both Tulowitzki and Price, the club sold over 300,000 tickets for the rest of the season.

Move forward to the 2016 campaign, the only player to remain with the club, from those trades after making an appearance in the clubs first ALCS since 1993, Tulowitzki. Price would move to Boston, Revere to Washington, Lowe to the Tigers, and Hawkins would call it quits on his career. The club would also see Mark Buehrle walk as well as 15 other members depart ways, whether through trades, free agent signings, or through being DFA’d.

August 1, 2016, let’s take a look at where the club is now, and what Shapiro and Ross Atkins worked out ahead of this year’s deadline. They currently stand just half a game back of first (59-46) in the AL East, taking it over momentarily Saturday, hosting the Baltimore Orioles. They would then lose that lead, after falling in 12 innings Sunday. The front office staff went out and got Melvin Upton Jr. to help as another outfielder. They also signed Justin Smoak to a 2-year deal. Reason being for these two acquisitions primarily was for a safety net. In case Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion don’t return in 2017, they now have appropriate guys to be their replacements for now. Toronto also went out and signed Jason Grilli and Joaquín Benoit. Since they have joined Toronto, they have performed just as they are supposed to, helping out the club thus far in the sixth, seventh, and eight innings.

The Jays did make a couple moves on trade deadline day. The club got Francisco Liriano, sending Drew Hutchison the other way. Toronto also received two prospects in OF Harold Ramirez and C Reese McGuire. They would also send Jesse Chavez to the LA Dodgers, getting back Mike Bolsinger. Chavez was seen struggling with his consistency out of the bullpen, not able to lock down his innings when he was called upon. Bolsinger is currently pitching in Triple A, and is 1-4 with a 6.83 ERA through 6 starts. He will most likely be signed to Buffalo for now, with a potential call-up in September, if there are any injuries or to help the pen out if someone gets injured. For now, he will slot into where Hutchison was in Buffalo.

Liriano will be put into the fifth rotation spot, sending Sanchez back into the bullpen. He has a 5.46 ERA, going 6-11 in 2016, but new ballparks mean new opportunities. Sending Aaron back into the pen, will help the struggles they have faced in the later end of ballgames. Considering Sanchez is 11-1 with a 2.71 ERA pitching in 139.1 innings, the club has decided to move him back to the pen. He is having himself a CY Young award winning season, yet when Ross Atkins spoke out to the media earlier today, to sum it up, he doesn’t want to take a risk. He mentioned how the transition for Sanchez from starting to the bullpen is something he is familiar with and would give the Blue Jays club an increase in their chance to reach the world series and for him to be a bigger part in that run. Once he is transitioned, he will be put into a relief role, like he was last year.

They also sent 18-year-old Guadalupe Chavez to Houston, for Scott Feldman. Feldman is 5-3, with a 2.90 ERA. The good part about Feldman, he was originally in the pen in the early years of his career. This makes him a versatile player, able to pitch wherever he would be found most useful. The look around the club is they are going to head in 1 direction. Liriano had good success with Russell Martin in Pittsburgh, so for now, he will get the opportunity to turn things around and get the wins on the fifth day for the Jays.

Overall, yes, Shaprio and Atkins didn’t do as much as Anthopoulous did last season, however what a lot of Jays faithful forget is that a lot of the pieces to see a world series team is still in place. The only difference is that the other four teams in the East, went out and got better pieces to appropriately help their respective clubs. Heading into the last two months of the season, it is going to be a tight race in the east, and for the Jays loyal fans, they will see a similar situation as last year. It is going to come down to the last couple weeks of the season on whether or not they will repeat at AL east champs.

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Jays Fall to Rangers in Round Three

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                   (AP / Richard W. Rodriguez)

In the last meeting of 2016 between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, a massive controversial event took place in Arlington. Things started to get heated Sunday night when the Rangers Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista to start of the eighth inning.

During Bautista’s last plate appearance, the Rangers decided it was time to get back at the creator of the bat flip. Originally Bautista would walk to first and not react. Once on base however, that’s where things began to escalate. When Justin Smoak grounded out to Adrian Béltre, who would flip the ball to Rougned Odor, Bautista would slide into second base hard almost taking out Odor. With a quick step, Odor managed to dodge what could have been a devastating slide, but he wouldn’t step down and move on. What took place next is what people will be talking about at the water coolers at work tomorrow morning.

Odor would shove Bautista and throw a massive punch right square into Bautista’s jaw that started an all out bench clearing brawl. When Josh Donaldson came out to support his teammate, he almost received the same fate as Bautista as Odor tried to punch him in defense. Once the smoke cleared, we could see John Gibbons, who had already been ejected from the game, come back onto the field to help provide some guidance to his team and separate them so they could go back to the game. On his way out, he would have some words for the Rangers bench boss Jeff Banister. Both managers would see themselves to the clubhouse for the rest of the game which a suspension looming on Gibbons for coming back out to the field.

Jose Bautista said after the game, “I had a hard slide at 2B. I could have injured him, I chose not to…tried to send a message that I didn’t appreciate getting hit.”

Once things settled, and both clubs and their fans just wanted the game to end before more wood was put into the fire, Jesse Chavez would hit Prince Fielder on the first throw. Chavez would automatically get ejected from the game and the benches would clear once more. This time there were no punches thrown, and players went back to their respective dugouts quite quickly.

Now comes the question for the night. Will both Bautista and Odor get suspended for their actions? Bautista with the illegal slide and Odor for the punch to the face. Some could argue that Bautista was trying to intentionally take out Odor and end his season. On the other side, Odor could have put Bautista on the DL with a broken jaw as he became very aggressive and clocked Jose in the face. How will one determine who should get suspended and if so, how long?

Yes, Bautista’s revenge wasn’t within the new guidelines the MLB put out this year in regards to sliding to prevent injury, but this is baseball. If Bautista and the Jays wanted to get revenge, they should have done it on the scoreboard, winning the game. Instead, they fell 7-6 after all was said and done. The Jays had a big sixth inning thanks to Jose, but would still fall short.

It will be interesting to see who the manager will be for Monday night’s game as I’ve said, Gibbons will be suspended for his re-appearance on the field in Arlington. First base coach Tim Leiper may also face suspension as he popped up into the dugout to witness the brawl, but was smart enough to not run onto the field. The Blue Jays will now head back to Toronto for a series against the Tampa Bay Rays starting Monday. J.A. Happ will face off against Drew Smyly.

Blue Jays Unable to Complete Sweep at AT&T

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The Toronto Blue Jays headed into extra innings for the third time this season, as they would look to sweep the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Wednesday afternoon.

Marcus Stroman would be sent to the hill in search of his fifth win of the season. The Giants would send Madison Bumgarner as he was in search of his fifth win as well. In the bottom of the second, the Giants would get on the board first as Gregor Blanco doubled to right, scoring Brandon Crawford. Conor Gillaspie would also see the plate, as he would reach home safely on a groundout by Denard Span.

Once Josh Donaldson reached base, he would find his opportunity and steal third. Donaldson reached home helping his team get on the board scoring on a groundout after Crawford would throw out Edwin Encarnacion at first. That wouldn’t be enough however as the Giants added a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Jays needed to get something going. In the eighth, the scales would start to tip in Toronto’s favour.

After loading the bases, Russell Martin earned an opportunity to decrease the deficit the Jays faced. Martin hit a sacrifice fly to Hunter Pence in right field, managing to score Donaldson. Encarnacion would move up to third. Justin Smoak would be sent in as a pinch hitter for Darwin Barney. The Giants would bring in Josh Osich to face Smoak, but would give up a single to right, scoring Encarnacion.

Down by a run in the ninth, Santiago Casilla would come in to close out the game. His first batter he would face would be Michael Saunders. On a full count, Saunders homered to center field, tying up the game at four runs each. The Giants would see their three run lead fade away in front of them, ultimately sending this game into extra innings. This would be the fifth game in extras for the Giants and third for the Jays.

In the 13th-inning, Ryan Tepera would be the sixth pitcher to come into the game from the bullpen. After a pitch hit Brandon Belt, Denard Span hit a sacrifice bunt plus a fielder’s choice moving Belt to second. Tepera would throw a wild pitch moving both runners up. The Jays would elect to intentionally walk Joe Panik loading the bases for Buster Posey.

Tepera would find himself struggling, as he ultimately would walk Posey, scoring Belt and ending the game. The Jays unable to sweep the Giants and would fall back to .500. “We missed some opportunities but our guys battled to even come back,” said Blue Jays manger John Gibbons. “To come back and tie that thing, it was just one of those games, you burn through everybody to get to that point. But, yeah, you never want to lose a game on a walk.” (Quote provided by Gregor Chisholm & Chris Haft/MLB.com)

The Toronto Blue Jays (18-18) will now have a day off before heading to Arlington to face off against the Texas Rangers (20-15). The two clubs will see each other for a three game series starting Friday night. R.A. Dickey will start Friday night for the Jays as Martín Pérez will start for Texas. Both pitchers are in search of their second victories of the season.

Jays Bats Come Alive in Series Finale Against Texas

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

        (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The Toronto Blue Jays would say goodbye to the Texas Rangers Thursday evening, hoping to send them off with a loss. After winning the previous two games with back-to-back walk-off wins, the Jays would look to keep rolling, with the hopes of having more of an offensive attack.

After Prince Fielder would score Adrian Beltre to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Blue Jays would respond, and in a heavy way. With a pair of singles and a double from Edwin Encarnacion, the Toronto fans would see Toronto get five runs cross the plate. Kevin Pillar would see the plate twice in the first, as Derek Holland would face off against every batter in the line-up.

In the bottom of the third, there would be more runs scored, once again in Toronto’s favour. Pillar would start back up at the dish, hitting a two run double making it a

7-1 lead for the hometown club. After Jose Bautista would ground into a force-out, scoring Ezequiel Carrera, Encarnacion would be back up to the plate. He would decide to take his parrot for a run, homering a three run shot to left field, making it an 11-1 lead.

Things would remain quiet until the Jays added an extra one in the eighth, as Justin Smoak would hit in Josh Donaldson. Ryan Tepera would come in to pitch to close out the game in the ninth, The Rangers would get a run in, scoring Mitch Moreland, but would not be able to power through. The Jays would send the Rangers out of Toronto, winning the series on a much-needed offensive night. J.A. Happ would pick up his fourth win of the season. Holland would lose his second game of the season.

Friday evening, the Blue Jays will welcome in the L.A. Dodgers in a three game set. Marcus Stroman will be sent to the hill, as he will search for his fifth win to keep his undefeated season going. The Dodgers will send Kenta Maeda as the counter in search of stopping the Jays winning streak. First pitch takes place at 7:07PM EST.

Jays Turn Things Around, Win Tampa Series

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               (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

The Blue Jays would fly into Tropicana Field for a mini three game series this past weekend. Aaron Sanchez would be sent to the bump for the Jays, as he would be looking for another strong start. The Rays would send Drew Smyly for this matchup. The Jays would be looking to put an end to their three game losing streak in a needed win ahead of their upcoming homestead versus a familiar opponent, the Texas Rangers.

Things would remain quiet for the most part of the game. Thanks to a couple of home runs from Michael Saunders and the MVP Josh Donaldson, the Jays would go up 2-0, heading into the eighth inning. The pace of the game would start to pick up, but not for the home team of Florida. The Jays would score three runs, as Michael Saunders would homer for a second time Friday evening, before Donaldson and Bautista would both score a pair of runs as well. The Rays would manage to score one run on the board, but would ultimately fall 6-1 to the blue birds.

Heading into Saturday’s game, J.A. Happ would look to continue the momentum. Toronto would score two runs early thanks to Jose Bautista. He would take one deep, scoring himself as well as Josh Donaldson. The Rays would respond, as Logan Forsythe would make a line drive to Kevin Pillar in center, scoring Kevin Kiermaier. J.A. Happ would pitch through 6.2 innings, allowing Tampa to score three runs, and the Jays would not be able to respond scoring only an additional run in the seventh, getting three runs in over three hits. Tampa would tie the series up, at one a piece.

Marcus Stroman turned 25 on Sunday. He would be looking to celebrate the birthday with a win, to get momentum back for his team closing out the series, before facing Texas on Monday. It would be an exchange of runs early for both clubs as it would be tied 1-1 until the fourth. The gates would open up as the Jays would rally four runs in, to help Stroman not only give him the W on his birthday, but give him his fourth win of the season. To start the ninth, Xavier Cedeno would replace Erasmo Ramirez who would give up a double to Darwin Barney, and walk Michael Saunders. Alex Colome would then come in and after striking out Bautista, and making Encarnacion ground out, Troy Tulowitzki would homer scoring Saunders, Donaldson, and himself. The Rays would try to fight back, but Roberto Osuna would come in to do what he does best, close out the game. He would replace Stroman who went eight innings.

The Jays will now fly home for a weeklong stand, facing off against a familiar foe in Texas Rangers who they last saw during the ALDS Championship Series, last year. R.A. Dickey will be sent to the mound, as Texas responds with A.J. Griffin. Griffin looking for his fourth win, as Dickey will be looking to prevent that and work towards his second win of the season.

Chicago Keeps Sox Clean, Sweep Jays

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 26: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox delivers a pitch in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 26, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Chris Sale

        (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

On Monday evening, the Toronto Blue Jays would welcome in the Chicago White Sox and three former Jays in Brett Lawrie, Dioner Navarro, as well as Melky Cabrera. On the bump, would be Marcus Stroman for the Blue Jays as Chicago would send Miguel Gonzalez.

Things would get started early, as both the White Sox and Blue Jays would score runs respectively, landing the Toronto club on top, 2-1. In the third inning, after getting two runners on base, Michael Saunders would homer on an 0-1 count to center field. Stroman would pitch through 6.2 innings of before being pulled in the seventh, leaving the bases loaded in relief for Brett Cecil. Coming out of the bullpen, Cecil would be unable to contain the White Sox, letting five runs cross the plate, with three runs being charged to Stroman. Chicago would add one more in the top of the ninth, securing their game one victory.

Wednesday night, the Toronto club would be looking to rebound from Tuesday night, as knuckleballer R.A. Dickey would be sent out to search for his second victory of the season. He would be put up against Chris Sale. Things would stay quiet until the fifth inning, minus the one run scored in the top of the third on behalf of Avisail Garcia as he homered into center field, giving his team an early 1-0 lead. Chicago would get three runners home safely in the fifth and seventh inning. Former Blue Jays catcher Navarro would homer giving his club a seven run lead. The Jays would only manage to get one run in over four hits in the game, while the Sox would add three more runs in the top of the ninth, securing their second victory in a row, with the chance of sweeping the Blue Jays for the first time since 2001.

Marco Estrada would look to look for his second victory of the season with hopes of helping to prevent a sweep at the Rogers Centre. Jose Quintana would be the counterpart in the attempt to sweep the Jays. It would be a very quiet game through the first six innings. It would turn worse for Estrada in the seventh. As he would ultimately reach 118 pitches through 6.2 innings, Marco would let three runs score before Ryan Tepera would come in during the eighth and let a fourth run cross the plate. Quintana would pitch just six innings, but give up no runs over four hits, striking out ten. The Jays would find themselves swept at home for the first time since September of 2001.

After a day off, Toronto will fly to Tampa for a mini three game series this weekend. Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, and Marcus Stroman will be the three starters to go in Tropicana as the Rays will send Drew Smyly, Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi as the respective counterparts.

Jays Offence Comes Alive, Takes Series Against The A’s.

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                 Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Friday night the Toronto Blue Jays would welcome in the Oakland Athletics for a three game series. Prior to the start of Friday’s game, news would break that 1st baseman, Chris Colabello, has been suspended for 80 games for breaking MLB’s policy on the usage of PED’s. With news hitting the teammates and fans around the arena as they flowed into the Rogers Centre, the Toronto team would look to get past the news and focus on the series, against the Athletics.

The Blue Jays would send Aaron Sanchez to the mound to face off against Oakland’s young gun, Sonny Gray. Sanchez would get shaken up early, as the Athletics would score four runs in the first two innings. The Jays would be unable to catch up, even after a late inning effort. To start the bottom of the sixth inning, three Jays would walk to first and after a couple hits; the blue birds would only get a run in. They would manage three more hits within the next couple of innings, but would eventually fall in game one, by a score of 8-5. Sanchez would only go 4.1 innings giving up 6ER, striking out only 3. His opponent Gray would go 7 innings, giving up only 3 runs, striking out 7.

Saturday’s matchup would feature J.A. Happ on the mound for the blue birds, as he was looking to improve on his 2-0 starts. The Athletics would send right-hander Chris Bassitt to the bump in efforts to get another win. Oakland would strike first as Mark Canha would homer on a 2-0 count to right field. It was then the Jays turn to respond. The entire Jays line-up with the exception of Kevin Pillar would see the plate in the bottom of the first inning, managing only two runs. Happ would silence the A’s bats in the top of the second, allowing the floodgates to open up once again, as three runs crossed the plate thanks to a home run from Donaldson, scoring Pillar and Carrera.

The Athletics would be unable to produce more then a pair of runs the rest of the game, which was of no notice to the Toronto club as they would score one run in, for four consecutive innings. Happ would go seven strong innings, giving up only 3ER off 7H, only striking out 1. His counterpart Bassitt would allow 6ER over 9H through 5 innings pitched, striking out 5.

Sunday would be the rubber match between the two clubs on former Oakland Athletic, Josh Donaldson bobblehead day. In front of a near sold out crowd of 46,300, the Jays would look to get back to .500 before welcoming the Chicago White Sox into the Rogers Centre Monday night. The fans in attendance were expecting to see Marcus Stroman pitch, however they would see a familiar face in Drew Hutchison. The feeling was split mutual on Hutchison taking the mound. He went 13-5 last season, but spent some of the time in Buffalo, pitching for the AAA Bisons’. Prior to the game, Josh Donaldson would receive his 2015 Silver Slugger & Players Choice awards. You could say he was having a day, he wont soon forget.

When it came to time to play the game, just like Saturday, Oakland would get on the board first scoring a run in the second, as Khris Davis would knock one out to center off a 1-1 count. Hutchison would then settle down and only give up another earned run in his 5.2 innings of work. He would have the run support behind him early, as the boys in blue would score four runs in the third, and two in the fourth. Carrera, who was in the lead off position in replace of Michael Saunders, would homer on a full count. Through some light singles into shallow center field, Donaldson would see his way home as well as Tulowitzki soon after.

In the fourth, Jose Bautista would take his turn and score a two-run home run, scoring Donaldson. After that, the Jays would find their bats go silent, but still able to hold onto a 6-3 win, taking the series from Oakland, making it their second series win of the season. Hutchison would only allow 4 hits striking out 5, while Eric Surkamp of the A’s would give up 6ER, over 9H through 4.2 innings. Sunday’s game would be Surkamp’s second loss of the season. Roberto Osuna would receive the save as he came in the ninth, and struck out the only three batters he would face, giving up not a single hit.

The Chicago White Sox will now come into town for a three game series. The Toronto faithful will be seeing a few former Jays as Brett Lawrie, Melky Cabrera and Dioner Navarro will all be back facing off against their former club. Marcus Stroman will be on the hill tonight, as he will look for victory number four. The Sox will counter with Miguel González as they look to stay on top of the AL Central division. First pitch takes place at 7:07PM EST.