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 Win Series Against Red Sox, Go 12-5 in last 15

Jim Rogash / Getty Images

Jim Rogash / Getty Images

It’s been quite a few weeks for the Toronto Blue Jays. To the cheer of the Blue Jays faithful, the offence has finally been found, which has helped the team go 12-5 in their past 15 games. This weekend was no different as they took on the Boston Red Sox at Fenway.

Things started off Friday night as the knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was lights out. David Price would be the one to try and stand in his way, but would get knocked down early. Dickey would not give up a hit to the Red Sox, until the sixth inning. The Jays would help offensively scoring 2 runs in the top of the first inning, thanks to Edwin Encarnacion. He would send one into the stands in center field scoring Josh Donaldson as well as himself. In the bottom of the inning, Mookie Betts would find himself on base after walking and would eventually score cutting the lead in half. Fast forward to the eighth inning, and the Jays would manage to add two more runs on the board, winning Friday’s contest 5-2.

On Saturday, Marcus Stroman would be sent to the bump as he would look to continue his team’s streak. However, he would soon discover he had been figured out by Boston’s offence, as the Red Sox would score in five consecutive innings. His competition across the field would be Steven Wright. Wright would find his defence putting in the work as a Jay would not see the plate until the top of the fourth inning. The Blue Jays would then score in three consecutive innings, but would still fall short by a pair, losing Saturday afternoon 6-4, managing only four hits through nine innings.

Sunday would be the rubber match. There was a lot of excitement surrounding Sunday’s game as it got started. Marco Estrada would be on the hill for the Jays as he would face off against the young gun, Eduardo Rodriguez. The Jays offence would be a major factor, but not because of singles, doubles, or even triples. Jose Bautista started off in the first inning, getting a hold of one and homering in left center field. Heading into the third, Darwin Barney and Encarnacion would both homer respectively, scoring an additional three runs, making it a 4-0 game. It would then be Russell Martin’s turn to fire one into center field, giving the Blue Jays a 5-0 run.

Defensively, Estrada had himself a game. The debatable ace of the team would find himself going into the bottom of the eighth, as he had a no-hitter intact right up until the bottom of the eighth inning before giving up a home run to Chris Young. Young’s home run would then light a fire on Boston’s bench. Leading 5-1 going into the ninth, and just three outs away from a win, Roberto Osuna would come in for the ninth. David Ortiz would hit a line drive, scoring Dustin Pedroia. Hanley Ramirez then doubled, scoring Rusney Castillo. Jackie Bradley Jr. then singled, scoring Ramirez, but that is all that would take place as the Jays would be able to hold on, and win the series 2/3.

The Blue Jays now head into Detroit to start a three games series at Comerica Park. J.A. Happ (6-2) will be sent to the mound as his opponent will be Michael Fulmer (5-1).

Blue Jays Split in Beantown

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                    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox

The Toronto Blue Jays headed to Boston Friday night to start a four game series against a division rival, the Red Sox. On Jackie Robinson Day, the blue birds fell short, losing 5-3 handing R.A. Dickey his second loss of the year.

Boston took an early three run lead in the bottom of the first inning, which would find them ahead of the rest of the game. Toronto would manage to respond with a run in the second, and get two runs in during the seventh inning, but unable to produce any further. Rick Porcello would be credited with the win, keeping his undefeated streak alive, at two games. He would only let in 3 runs, over 6.1 innings of work, striking out 8. On the Jays side, R.A. Dickey would let in 4 runs through just 4.2 innings, striking out just 3. Craig Kimbrel would come in during the ninth for the save, to give the Sox a 1-0 series lead.

The fans heading to Fenway Saturday definitely got their money worth, as they would see a pitching duel between former Blue Jay David Price and Marco Estrada. Jays would get a run in early, however Boston would soon respond in the fourth, scoring four of their own. The blue birds would score another in the fourth as Edwin Encarnacion would hit a double, scoring Bautista who singled just prior. That’s all they would manage, as the Jays would fall once again, this time by a score of 4-2. David price would get the win as he went 7 innings, giving up only 2 runs over 6 hits with 9 strikeouts. Estrada on the other hand had a decent outing, but giving up 4 runs over 6 innings, striking out only 3, which would be the downfall. Kimbrel would appear once again, earning his fourth save of the year.

Game three would be a match-up between the young gun Aaron Sanchez and the knuckleballer, Steven Wright. The Blue Jays would be looking to get a much-needed win, as they would look not to lose the series. Toronto would pull off a similar situation as Saturday night, getting two runs in during the first inning.This time, it would be the Jays that would have the upper hand, as Boston would fall victim, only getting three runs on, two of which came during the ninth inning. Sanchez was lights out, giving up only 1 run, over 7 innings, striking out 7. Steven Wright would receive the loss as he went 6 innings, giving up 2 runs, striking out 6. During the game, Chris Colabello would find himself shaken up as Wright threw an 87MPH fastball, sending Colabello to the ground for a minute. Wright would perform a class act on Monday, sending a bottle of liquor to Colabello’s locker room as a token of apology, as he truly did not mean to have such a close encounter. Colabello would talk about the incident stating, “He went above and beyond in my eyes. It was pretty obvious there was no intent. You could see by his reaction.” Bravo Steven, well done.

Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays would be looking to even up the series at two games apiece. With an early morning game, taking place at 11AM, the blue birds didn’t have much time to rest, but they would send J.A. Happ to the mound in the series finale as he would be competing against Koji Uehara. The Bo Sox would get a man in early, as Josh Rutledge would double in Hanley Ramirez, making it a 1-0 game. There would be no other action until the Jays opened the floodgates in the top of the eighth, scoring 4 runs. The Toronto boys would appear to have this game won, however Boston would not be done responding with 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth, but would not be able to get anything further, falling 4-3. The Jays would end up splitting the series 2-2.

The Blue Jays will now head to face off against another division rival, the Baltimore Orioles who have been on a hot streak. The 7-7 Jays will start a three game series against the 8-3 Orioles, sending their young gun Marcus Stroman who is looking to go 3-0. The O’s will respond by sending Mike Wright to the bump. Wright has only pitched five innings this year, and the Toronto club will be looking to take advantage of that. Game time is 7:05EST.

AL East Champs Go 2-2

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

                      Brian Blanco/Getty Images

It’s 2016 and baseball has returned for the defending AL East division champions. The Toronto Blue Jays started their season opening in St. Petersburg, as they would play guest to the Tampa Bay Rays. Toronto would take the first two games of the series, winning both contest’s 5-3. Stroman and R.A. Dickey would both be rewarded with the victory for their efforts. Things then became interesting during Tuesday night’s game three.

During the first three games, the Jays would strike out 36 times, leaving 12 batters on base, and would have game three end in a controversial setting. Heading into the ninth inning, Toronto would trail the Rays, 3-2. Having one out, and Bautista on first, Edwin would hit a grounder to Longoria who would initially throw a 5-4-3 play, but Logan Forsythe would throw the ball away, which would land Toronto two runs to take a 4-3 lead. Tampa would challenge the call on the field, and after further review, it showed the Bautista broke the new sliding rule when he put out his arm and touched the foot of Forsythe, which is in violation of said rule. The umpires would then call both Bautista and Encarnacion out on a double play, ending the game, resulting in a Tampa Bay Rays victory, giving them their first of the season.

Heading into the fourth and final game of the opening series, the Jays would look to rebound, as they would send former Jay, comeback J.A. Happ to the mound to face off against Matt Moore. Reigning MVP winner Josh Donaldson would get the bats going early, as he would homer a three run shot to give the Jays a lead. Tampa would respond to two runs of their own scoring in the fourth and sixth inning. Nearing the end of the game and looking for a rebound win, Gibbons would send Arnold Leon to the mound to pitch in the bottom of the eighth, with the idea of sending either Storen or Osuna to the mound in the ninth to finish it up. Things didn’t go as planned however, as Leon would give up a home run to Souza Jr., which would score three, giving the Rays a 5-3 lead which would be the difference.

The Canadian boys will now fly home and have an off day Thursday before opening up their first home series this weekend as they play host to David Price and the Boston Red Sox. Stroman will be sent to the mound Friday, followed by Dickey, as they will each be looking for their second wins of the season. Marco Estrada will be sent to the mound for the first time on Sunday, as he will face off against former Blue Jay rental, David Price.

The Price Was Not Right, Heads To Red Sox

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COLE BURSTON / TORONTO STAR

Just shortly after the 2015 baseball season came to an end, the big question for every Jays fan was whether or not David Price would be seen in the Rogers Centre again, in the dugout under section 124. Price’s tenure with the blue birds would soon end however as Price was picked up on the trades deadline as strictly a rental player. This would lead the Blue Jays to their first playoff appearance since ’93, ending their 22-year drought.

This afternoon, David Price would be officially announced as a member of the Boston Red Sox, after signing a 7-year, $217 million deal. The deal provides Price with an opt-out option after 3 years. In the news conference today, some notable things were said that might not sit with the Blue Jays faithful who wanted to do whatever they could to keep him in Toronto. “I think I was saving all of my postseason wins for the Red Sox.”

The Jays did not pursue Price aggressively however. Instead of giving D. Price $217 million, they decided to see him leave and hold onto their funds to eventually be able to share around the clubhouse. Price also stated in the news conference, “This is a place that has winning in their history. They definitely have winning in their future.” When breaking down this deal further, if Price starts 30 times in the 2016 season, he will earn $1 million per game ($9,000 per pitch) as he will wind up receiving $30 million in total.

Prior to the Boston reaching out and eventually signing the popular left-hander, the Red Sox spoke with David Ortiz, asking his opinion on Price and what his thoughts were as the two had history together during their days in Tampa. “At some point the Red Sox asked me, and I told them I got no problem with it. He’s not a bad guy. I know him from before. Things happen in the game, but that doesn’t mean that’s how you are. Our adrenaline kicks in on the field.”

So all in all, even though Jays fans are extremely disappointed in the fact they won’t get to see one of the best in the game every 5 days, time will tell if they will be better without him. That being said, they (Jays) have a lot of work to do to fix up their starting rotation and get some key arms in the bullpen as well.

Estrada Keeps Jays Playoff Hopes Alive

during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 21, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Jays would see themselves with their backs against the wall once again. The Toronto ball club would be looking to get into the Kansas City Royals team who have been so dominate this post-season and force a game six back at Kauffman Stadium. Marco Estrada would be sent to the hill in hopes of keeping the season alive; as it would be a rematch of game one, Edinson Volquez would be sent out for the Royals.

In the second inning, Chris Colabello would help get the ball rolling, as he would launch a shot into left center field to strike first, making it a 1-0 game. Marco Estrada would do his part defensively sitting down the first nine batters he faced. He would start the nine batters by sitting down Alcides Escobar who would not reach base in the first inning for the first time in five games. In the sixth, after Revere and Donaldson would reach base safely, Bautista would battle Volquez through ten pitches, but would ultimately walk loading them for Edwin Encarnacion. Volquez would continue the trend by walking Encarnacion making it a 2-0 game.

Volquez would get pulled as Kelvin Herrera came in as relief. Troy Tulowitzki would make Herrera pay. Tulowitzki would crank a double to center field scoring all three runners on base, now a 5-0 contest. Tulo would set franchise history with the double as he now leads the Jays in RBI’s during the ALCS with 7. Candy Maldonado (6, 1992) and Paul Molitor (5, 1993) follow behind.

In the last six games when the Jays have scored five or more runs, they have won all six of those match-ups. Heading into the eighth, Estrada would still be on the mound, which would help with Toronto’s already depleted bullpen. He would only give up 1 hit through the first six innings. However, Estrada would give up a home run to Salvador Perez in the top of the eighth, and then followed by a single. That would wind up being the end of Estrada’s night. When Gibbons came to take the ball, you could read his lips saying wow. He was truly amazed with his performance in this crucial match-up. “He’s a master at what he does” Gibbons said about Estrada. “The fans game me all the energy I needed. We’re not done” said Estrada on the fan support from the over 49,000 blue jays faithful. Estrada would end up going 7.2IP, giving up only three hits, while striking out five.

In the end, the Jays would go on to win 7-1 over the Royals, forcing a game six Friday night in Kansas City. Tonight would be the fourth elimination game the Jays have won and they hope to continue that trend. David Price will take the hill in what we will see as a game two rematch as Yordano Ventura will be sent to the rubber for the Royals.

Royals Keep The Crown in Game 1 of ALCS

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                        Rob Carr/Getty Images

The ALCS would begin in Kansas City as the Royals ball club gained control of the top spot in the American League during the regular season. Playing at home in game one, the Royals would look to take an early lead to gain control of the best of seven series. They would send Edinson Volquez to the mound as the Toronto Blue Jays would send Marco Estrada to the hill. Estrada would only let in one run in his start against the Texas Rangers during the ALDS.

The Royals would get things started in the third, as they would score two and take the lead. Salvador Perez would then step to the plate in the fourth and launch a home run off the first pitch. Volquez would toss six shutout innings, giving up only two hits, walking four and striking out five that would be the key behind the victory and the first win of the series. Estrada would go 5.1 innings giving up three runs on six hits with six strikeouts.

In the eighth inning, Edwin Encarnacion would leave the game to receive a precautionary X-ray on his middle finger of the left hand. He would later be diagnosed with a ligament sprain and is currently listed as day to day. During the regular season, Encarnacion would miss two days of the season with the same issue. The club will announce Saturday whether or not he will be in the line-up, but look for Justin Smoak to be his replacement for the time being.

The Jays won’t have long to wait to try and tie up the series before heading back to Toronto. David Price (1-1, 7.20 ERA) will be sent to the mound, while the Royals will counter with right-hander Yordano Ventura (0-1, 7.71 ERA).