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 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.

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).

Jays fall to Red Sox, Lose Ground to Yankees

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         (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

It was a late afternoon start at the Rogers Centre Saturday as the Jays were set to face the Red Sox in game two of the last series in Toronto. R.A. Dickey would be sent to the mound as Boston would send Wade Miley as his counterpart. The Jays were looking to remain steady with the Yankees who won their contest earlier on.

Things would stay quiet during the first five innings as both clubs would get runners on base, but couldn’t produce on their attempts. Boston would get a run in first before Edwin Encarnacion would launch his 34th home run this season over the left field wall making it a 2-1 game. Boston would then tie it up in the seventh as Jackie Bradley Jr. would double scoring Brock Holt to tie it up.

Heading into the eighth, the Jays would score two more runs making it 4-2. The boys in blue had their eyes set on winning their 86th game this season. However the boys in grey had other ideas. Boston would score five runs hitting off of Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, Matt Hague, would be up to the plate. The international league MVP would help the Jays with some momentum hitting a double on a sharp line to center field. Justin Smoak would follow at the plate, but not on the same level. He would ground out to end the ballgame.

The Jays would lose a nail bitter 7-6 falling 85-63 on the year. Not a huge break on the record, but the club would see their ground on the second place Yankees fall to 3.5 games. They also stand 1.5 games back of the Kansas City Royals for first overall in the American League. The Toronto team will look to bounce back in the rubber match hoping for a Yankees loss to gain more ground back before facing the Bronx team for a three game set starting Monday night.

Mark Buehrle will take the hill for the Jays as Rich Hill will start for the Red Sox. This will be just the second start for Hill this season as this is the first year he’s taken the mound in the past six. This is his third stint with Boston and is hoping to prove why he deserves to stay on the rotation when next season comes around. First pitch takes place at 1:07PM EST.