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.

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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.

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.

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.

Jays Fall To Royals, Face Elimination

during game four of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 20, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.

                     Harry How/Getty Images

Things got off to a rough start for the Toronto Blue Jays who were trying to tie up the series with the Kansas City Royals Tuesday afternoon at the Rogers Centre. The Jays would have the knuckleballer R.A. Dickey take the mound. Chris Young would be his counter part in today’s contest.

The game would start off with a leadoff bunt from Alcides Escobar. Escobar would be the first player to leadoff the first inning with a hit in four straight games of a series. Ben Zobrist would then step to the plate, and on a 0-1 count Zobrist would launch a shot to right field scoring both himself and Escobar making it a 2-0 game. That would open the floodgates for the Royals, as they would score two more runs before the half inning would conclude. After giving up a home run to former Jay Alex Rios, Gibbons would come to the mound and send Dickey to the bench. Dickey would only go 1.2IP giving up 4ER off 4 hits. It would be the shortest outing in post-season history. In his last eight starts, Dickey posted a 1.94 ERA striking out 35 batters with a WHIP of only 0.84. In today’s matchup, the numbers would be quite different, as he would leave with a 21.60 ERA striking out only one and holding a WHIP of 3.61.

Liam Hendricks would enter the game. In the bottom of the third, Donaldson would hit a ground-rule double, scoring Ryan Goins cutting the Royals lead to four. Jose Bautista would then ground out, but score Ben Revere, as they would only trail by three, winding right back up into the matchup. In the seventh, LaTroy Hawkins would come in, in hopes of ending the flood that was taking place. That would not be the case though as Hawkins night would be over at the start of it, as Hawkins would load the bases before being pulled in relief of Ryan Tepera. With the bases loaded, Tepera would see four additional runs score, now making this a 9-2 game.

Trying to save their bullpen for what could be the last game of the 2015 season for the Toronto ball club, Gibbons would go to position player Cliff Pennington in the ninth to pitch. On his first throw in his career, he would throw a 91 MPH fastball for a strike. By the end, two runs would score and the game would end, as the Royals would dominate a night of quiet bats, taking the game 14-2.

The Jays will have their backs up against the wall for the second time this post-season, facing elimination on home turf. They will send Marco Estrada to the mound in a game one rematch, as Edinson Volquez will be the starter for the Royals as he hopes to guide his team to a World Series appearance for the second year in a row. Estrada is hoping to be the speed bump on that journey as he will throw out the first pitch at 4:07EST,

Jays Sweep Angels, Look Ahead to Rangers

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Over the weekend, it was quite a site to see for Blue Jay fans as their team faced off against the Angels of Anaheim. Looking to gain more ground in the Wild Card spot as well as potentially take back first in the east, the Jays had a lot of work to do.

Well, the bats went to work over the three day set. The Jays would set a franchise record for the most runs scored (36) and hits (48) within a three-game series. The three key players for this record to take place included Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion. The power trio would go to the plate for 21 hits, 3 homers, and 19 RBI’s in the series set.

Another record seems more achievable as the team has scored at least 10 runs, 18 times this season. They are only one game shy of the club record which was set back in 2003. When asked about the team and the series against the Angels, Gibbons was humble about it. “The West Coast has never been particularly good to us. But everybody in our lineup has been swinging. It was a heck of a series. One thing we do is score runs. We’ve been doing it all year.”

Another person to watch tonight will be Edwin Encarnacion. He is currently riding a 19 game hit streak and will look to continue that as he climbs the rank of players with the longest streaks in the franchise. The leader of the list, Shawn Green. Green has a 28 game hit streak in 1998.

The Jays will now head into Arlington to face off against the Rangers (64-59) who just took 3 out of 4 against the Tigers over the weekend. They currently sit 3.5 games back from the first in the AL West, but are sitting in the second wild card spot heading into tonight. They Jays and Yankees are tied at 4.5 games for first, but that will change quickly over the next few days. The Yanks are set to take on the Houston Astros who currently lead the AL West.

The starting matchups for the Jays this week will be Buehrle/Holland, Price/Lewis, and Estrada/Gallardo. Buehrle will be looking for his 14th win of the season tonight as the club looks to back him up and get the bats going early as they look for their fourth straight win. First pitch will be at 8:05PM EST.

All in all, there is one thing for sure. Over the next week, there will be a lot of scoreboard watching by all the teams around the league as August wraps up, and we head into the final season of the regular season. Teams are putting their final ounces of gas into their tanks to boost themselves into key spots needed respectively in order to see some October baseball.

Errors Assist in Jays Lost

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(Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Heading into Wednesday evening, the Blue Jays were looking to wrap up their mini series with the Philadelphia Phillies on a winning note. Things started off poorly as the Phillies would score four runs in the first three innings. The Jays would then get on the board with two of their own with help from Edwin Encarnacion and Pennington in the top of the 5th. Encarnacion’s blast to left field would continue his hit streak to 16 games as he looks to catch up to Chris Colabello who reached 18 earlier this year.

Colabello would then pinch hit for Buehrle who would be replaced by Bo Shultz to start the 6th inning. Colabello however would end up striking out which didn’t seem to please the manaylst Greg Zaun. Zaun said in the post-game talk said that he would have liked to see Colabello pinch-hit later in the game, as he is one of the best pinch hitters on the team. He would then speak on how as a manager, you don’t know if you’d get that chance later in that game.

The Jays would score a pair of runs in the top of the eight, but that’s all they would get, as they would fall in the finale 7-4. In Buehrle’s post-game interview, he said tonight was a frustrating night. In his shortest outing of the season, he spoke on his pitching tonight was due to bad luck.

“It was one of those bad starts. This games frustrating. You may have your best stuff and you don’t come out as good and other times where you don’t feel like you pitch that good and your stuff’s not that good and you come out with a win, so it’s frustrating.”

Turning to Gibbons, when asked if he would give Russell Martin some extra days off due to the obvious fact he’s been battling with hamstring tightness, his reply was no. Gibbons stated; “Why would I?” When a reporter said it was due to the fact that he can barely move, Gibbons said he thinks he’s fine. “He’s not complaining about it.”

The Jays will have an off day Thursday as they fly into Anaheim to face off against the Angels starting Friday night. They currently stand 3 games back of the Angels; however, the Angels may gain ground with a win tonight when they face the White Sox and in tomorrow’s finale before seeing the Blue Jays. Price will take the mound, as he will be countered by Hector Santiago.