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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Tigers Pounce on Jays, End Consecutive Streaks

DETROIT, MI - JUNE 7: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays gets caught leading off third base as Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 of the Detroit Tigers makes the throw to third baseman Nick Castellanos #9 during the sixth inning of the game on June 7, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

                        (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Heading into the weekday series against the Detroit Tigers, the Toronto Blue Jays were looking to continue their streak of consecutive series won. The Jays have won 5 pervious series, and on Monday, they would send J.A. Happ to the mound in hopes of starting off the three game set with a victory. The Tigers would send Michael Fulmer to the hump in attempts to get the first win on their side at Comerica Park.

Things would get started off early for the Tigers ad they managed to score four runs in the bottom of the second inning, as James McCann would get the ball rolling. After Nick Castellanos and Justin Upton got on base, McCann would homer on a 1-2 count. Followed shortly after, Ian Kinsler would single to left, then move to second on a balk by Happ. After a passed ball, which would move him to third, Happ would throw a wild pitch scoring Kinsler. After just five innings of work and six earned runs batted in, Happ would be pulled in relief of Gavin Floyd. Floyd would let in three runs of his own in the sixth, and in the eighth, Storen would allow two, making Monday night’s game a blowout one for the Jays, as the blue birds would lose 11-0.

On Tuesday, and in this second game of the series, the Jays would look to rebound as they would look upon Aaron Sánchez to have another stellar performance and be in search of his sixth win of the year. Facing off against the Jays on the hill would be former Blue Jay, Matt Boyd. It was a much smaller affair of hits for the Tigers as the Jays would score first, but not until the fifth. The earned run would be brought upon center fielder Kevin Pillar. Looking ahead to the seventh inning, Pillar would be the help they needed once again, as he would score the second run off a fielder’s choice. Just three batters away from a win, Roberto Osuna would come in as relief, and would find himself in a bit of trouble as he would allow the Tigers to score a couple of runs, tying the game that would send this one into extras. In the tenth, Joe Biagini would give up a single to Justin Upton, and after a single to left, Upton would score, taking game two of the series, and just one game away from a sweep. Throughout the game though, the story wasn’t the runs or the lack of, but it would be on the Jays Sánchez. In just his tenth pitching performance of the 2016 year, the young right hander would see himself going 8IP, giving up only 2ER, walking 1, and striking out a season high 12.

The Jays would now find themselves staring a sweep down the tunnel. R.A. Dickey would be the man the Jays would be looking at to shut down the tigers and salvage a win before heading home to face off against the Baltimore Orioles. Jordan Zimmerman would be the man for the Tigers, as he had hopes of helping his team get a sweep. Both clubs would score a pair of runs to start off the game. Justin Smoak and Nick Castellanos would both hit home runs respectively, helping their clubs. Entering the third inning, the bats would start to come alive for the Blue Jays as Josh Donaldson would hit a three run home run scoring Josh Thole and Jose Bautista, now making it a 5-2 ballgame. Two more runs would score in the top of the fifth, and that’s all that would take place as the Jays would salvage their much needed win. Dickey would wind up going 5.1IP, giving up only 2ER while Zimmerman went 4.2IP giving up all 7ER.

The Blue Jays 32-39 will now head back home to Toronto to get ready for a four game match-up against the Orioles. Marcus Stroman (5-2) will start Thursday evening as his counterpart will be Tyler Wilson (2-5). The home town club of Toronto will look to continue their winning streak and get back on pace to winning series.

Jays Clinch AL East, Split Series with Orioles

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               Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

All eyes were on the first game of Wednesday’s double-header between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles. The game was supposed to be played Tuesday night, but due to Mother Nature, it got postponed and so did the chance of the clinching game for the Jays.

Heading into the 4:05 first pitch, all the Jays needed to do was win their game, and they would clinch the AL East. This would be the first time the ball club has done so since 1993, the last time they won the World Series. Marcus Stroman would be sent to the bump, as the Orioles would counter with Miguel Gonzalez.

Toronto would get on the board first in the top of the second scoring a pair of runs. Looking at the top of the fourth, the gates would open, as a second pair of runs would score before four more would round the bases in the fifth. Baltimore would overplay the ball a number of times and thanks to some high throws, the Jays would capitalize, sealing their fate as AL East Champs.

In the top of the ninth, Jorge Rondon would give up back-to-back home runs off Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The Jays would go ahead with five runs to defeat the Baltimore club in historic fashion to win the east by a score of 15-2.

It would then be time to give a toast inside the clubhouse before having to go out for game two of the double header where the Jays would lose 8-1. However, not a single member of the Jays club really looked like they cared for they wanted to celebrate the end of a huge drought that was bestowed upon them.

During the post-game interviews, there were a lot of hysterical moments. A couple to mention would be Josh Donaldson quoting WWE star Stone Cold Steve Austin by yelling, “1 beer, 2 beers, 3 beers, 4 beers” during his interview with Hazel Mae while with Barry Davis, Munenori Kawasaki would say, “I’m drunk” and when asked if ate his serving of banana’s today, he would reply by saying “I don’t need banana, I need champagne.” It was truly a surreal moment, not only for the veterans on the team such as Bautista and Encarnacion, but also for the rookies such as Stroman, Pillar, and Goins.

This has truly been a long time waiting and the Blue Jays faithful have only one man to thank. Alex Anthopoulos. Some of called him a god; others have referred him to an architect. For this writer, I simply see him as a man with a plan that was executed perfectly. The only thing to make it one for the books would be to bring home some shiny flags on a round stand. Otherwise known, as the World Series trophy.

Jays Take Game 2, Win 5-1 Over the Orioles

Toronto, Canada - September 5 - during baseball action against the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on September 5, 2015.

Cole Burston/Getty Images

It was a hot Saturday afternoon in Toronto. That didn’t stop the Jays however from bouncing back from a 10-2 loss Friday night at the hands of the Orioles. In game two, the Jays were lookin for a win before facing the O’s in the finale on Sunday.

Bautista would help get things rolling by launching a solo home run on a 2-2 count. The Jays would then score four more making it a 5-0 game by the start of the sixth. The Orioles would get one on the board in the seventh when Caleb Joseph would single to left, scoring Chris Davis. That’s all they would get though, as they would fall to the Jays 5-1.

A key part of the win for the blue birds was the man on the mound, David Price. Price was not only looking for a win in today’s matchup, but he was also looking for win #100. With seven strong innings pitched, he was able to do just that. Price allowed only one run and three hits over seven shutout innings. The left-hander walked four, matching a season high and striking out eight. Since joining Toronto at the trade deadline, he is 5-1 with an impressive 2.15 ERA.

After the game, there was some scoreboard watching for fans, and more then likely some of the guys in the clubhouse. The Yankees were only half a game back heading into Saturday’s matchups but were facing a loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays in their matchup. Sure enough, things went how they wanted, as the Yankees loss 3-2 putting them back to a game and a half behind the AL East leading Jays.

Both clubs will face off in their respective series finales. For the Jays and Orioles, it will be Marco Estrada (11-8) facing off against the right-hander Chris Tillman (9-10) For the Yankees and Rays; it will be Ivan Nova (5-7) going up against Chris Archer (12-10). Interesting fact, Chris Archer is undefeated at Yankee stadium posting a 3-0 record with a 1.54 ERA in five career starts in the Bronx.