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 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.

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.