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 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.

Jays Offence Comes Alive, Takes Series Against The A’s.

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                 Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Friday night the Toronto Blue Jays would welcome in the Oakland Athletics for a three game series. Prior to the start of Friday’s game, news would break that 1st baseman, Chris Colabello, has been suspended for 80 games for breaking MLB’s policy on the usage of PED’s. With news hitting the teammates and fans around the arena as they flowed into the Rogers Centre, the Toronto team would look to get past the news and focus on the series, against the Athletics.

The Blue Jays would send Aaron Sanchez to the mound to face off against Oakland’s young gun, Sonny Gray. Sanchez would get shaken up early, as the Athletics would score four runs in the first two innings. The Jays would be unable to catch up, even after a late inning effort. To start the bottom of the sixth inning, three Jays would walk to first and after a couple hits; the blue birds would only get a run in. They would manage three more hits within the next couple of innings, but would eventually fall in game one, by a score of 8-5. Sanchez would only go 4.1 innings giving up 6ER, striking out only 3. His opponent Gray would go 7 innings, giving up only 3 runs, striking out 7.

Saturday’s matchup would feature J.A. Happ on the mound for the blue birds, as he was looking to improve on his 2-0 starts. The Athletics would send right-hander Chris Bassitt to the bump in efforts to get another win. Oakland would strike first as Mark Canha would homer on a 2-0 count to right field. It was then the Jays turn to respond. The entire Jays line-up with the exception of Kevin Pillar would see the plate in the bottom of the first inning, managing only two runs. Happ would silence the A’s bats in the top of the second, allowing the floodgates to open up once again, as three runs crossed the plate thanks to a home run from Donaldson, scoring Pillar and Carrera.

The Athletics would be unable to produce more then a pair of runs the rest of the game, which was of no notice to the Toronto club as they would score one run in, for four consecutive innings. Happ would go seven strong innings, giving up only 3ER off 7H, only striking out 1. His counterpart Bassitt would allow 6ER over 9H through 5 innings pitched, striking out 5.

Sunday would be the rubber match between the two clubs on former Oakland Athletic, Josh Donaldson bobblehead day. In front of a near sold out crowd of 46,300, the Jays would look to get back to .500 before welcoming the Chicago White Sox into the Rogers Centre Monday night. The fans in attendance were expecting to see Marcus Stroman pitch, however they would see a familiar face in Drew Hutchison. The feeling was split mutual on Hutchison taking the mound. He went 13-5 last season, but spent some of the time in Buffalo, pitching for the AAA Bisons’. Prior to the game, Josh Donaldson would receive his 2015 Silver Slugger & Players Choice awards. You could say he was having a day, he wont soon forget.

When it came to time to play the game, just like Saturday, Oakland would get on the board first scoring a run in the second, as Khris Davis would knock one out to center off a 1-1 count. Hutchison would then settle down and only give up another earned run in his 5.2 innings of work. He would have the run support behind him early, as the boys in blue would score four runs in the third, and two in the fourth. Carrera, who was in the lead off position in replace of Michael Saunders, would homer on a full count. Through some light singles into shallow center field, Donaldson would see his way home as well as Tulowitzki soon after.

In the fourth, Jose Bautista would take his turn and score a two-run home run, scoring Donaldson. After that, the Jays would find their bats go silent, but still able to hold onto a 6-3 win, taking the series from Oakland, making it their second series win of the season. Hutchison would only allow 4 hits striking out 5, while Eric Surkamp of the A’s would give up 6ER, over 9H through 4.2 innings. Sunday’s game would be Surkamp’s second loss of the season. Roberto Osuna would receive the save as he came in the ninth, and struck out the only three batters he would face, giving up not a single hit.

The Chicago White Sox will now come into town for a three game series. The Toronto faithful will be seeing a few former Jays as Brett Lawrie, Melky Cabrera and Dioner Navarro will all be back facing off against their former club. Marcus Stroman will be on the hill tonight, as he will look for victory number four. The Sox will counter with Miguel González as they look to stay on top of the AL Central division. First pitch takes place at 7:07PM EST.

Stroman Stays Hot, Jays Rally Past Jays 4-2

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

       (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) 

After going 1-1 in the first two games against the Yankees, the Blue Jays would look to rally Thursday night for the first series win of 2016. Marcus Stroman would be sent to the hill to help his team get a much-needed win, and for Stroman, to continue his tremendous start this season.

Things remained quiet during the first four innings of the game. During the top of the fourth, Stroman would run into some trouble as Alex Rodríguez would be hit by a pitch, followed up by a single to right from Teixeira. Brian McCann would then load the bases for Carlos Beltrán. He would hit in a run off a fielders choice and after Stroman threw a wild pitch, Yankees would get another man in, making it a 2-0 game.

Skip forward to the bottom of the 5th, after Martin and Pillar both found themselves on base, the MVP would head to the dish and do what he does best. Donaldson with two on, and two out would crush a home run deep into the 2nd deck of the Rogers Centre straight into center field, which would give the Jays the lead, 3-2. Troy Tulowitzki would have his turn at the dish in the sixth, giving some more comfort to the Jays lead by launching his own home run, which would give the jays a two run lead going into the final stretch of the game.

Stroman would refocus himself after his troubles in the fourth, as he retired the final 11 batters he faced, recording 17 ground ball outs with four fly ball outs. When asked about his performance, going 2-0 this year and winning his seventh consecutive decision, he had this to say. “My curveball and slider were very good and so was my sinker. I thought I was locating my sinker. I felt like I was down more than in my last game and the results showed.”

Roberto Osuna came into the game to close it out in the ninth, and ended up sitting down all three batters in order. With Thursday night’s victory, it would send the blue birds back to a .500 season at 5-5.

The Jays will now head to Fenway to start a four game series against the Boston Red Sox. They will be going there looking for some payback after losing 2/3 to them in the home opener this past weekend. R.A. Dickey will be on the hump looking for his second win of the year. The Red Sox will counter with Rick Porcello. Game time is 7:10EST.

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 Take Crown From Royals

Toronto Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar, left, dives for home plate as he scores in front of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez during second inning game three American League Championship Series baseball action in Toronto on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

             THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Game three. Down 2-0 in the ALCS series against the Kansas City Royals. The Toronto Blue Jays were looking to get a win in hopes of staying alive in the series in hopes of going back to Kauffman Stadium to clinch down the road. For now, the Jays needed to take it game by game and tonight they sent Marcus Stroman to the mound to compete against Johnny Cueto who would be sent to the rubber for the Royals.

Things would get on a roll early as the Royals would strike first off Stroman as Alcides Escobar would manage to get home. It would also be the third game in a row where Stroman has given up the lead run in the first inning. Luckily, there were eight more innings for the Jays bats to wake up and go on display, and that they did.

The Jays would score three runs in the second thanks to Troy Tulowitzki going deep scoring Encarnacion and Colabello. After Russell Martin would come in thanks to a double from Kevin Pillar, MVP Candidate Josh Donaldson would step up to the dish and he would not disappoint. He would go long making it a 9-2 game. After just two innings, Cueto would get pulled with chants filling the Rogers Centre “We Want Cueto”.

Heading into the fifth, Ryan Goins would score his first post-season home run of his career. Marcus Stroman pitched into the seventh, as he would be in search of his first post-season win as well. He would go 6.1IP, giving up only four runs on eleven hits. In the eighth, Tulowitzki would complain about the strike zone, as he would eventually get ejected after continuing to chirp the home plate umpire, as he would go out to play defensively. After the game and evaluating the situation, a lot thought that Tulowitzki was selfish as he got ejected in what could have been an extra innings game.

Top of the ninth though, the Jays would be looking to close it out, however the Royals put all the nitro in their tank in hopes of coming back. They would score five runs, but would fall short, losing 11-8 to the blue birds. The team would be able to breath a bit of relief as they now have one win under their belt, and hoping for a second one Tuesday afternoon. Game 4 of the ALCS will take place Tuesday with first pitch at 4PM. R.A. Dickey (11-11) will be sent to the hill as he will be countered by Chris Young (11-6).

Jays Write History with ALCS Berth

TOM SZCZERBOWSKI/GETTY IMAGES

TOM SZCZERBOWSKI/GETTY IMAGES

It was a winner take all night at the Rogers Centre Wednesday evening. The Jays won game four, being able to bring the deciding game back to Toronto with a chance to clinch an ALCS berth in front of their home crowd. Going into the game, everyone knew it was going to be an exciting and electrifying night as it would be the same match-ups as game two, in hopes for the Jays the ending would be different.

Marcus Stroman would be sent to the hill as Cole Hammels was sent to the bump in hopes to end the fairy tale story. To start the game, Texas got on the board early scoring one run thanks to Delino DeShields. All of a sudden, memories of game two started to come to focus. All 52,000 people in the dome became steadily nervous, knowing this was going to be a tight game. The Jays would get on the board however in the bottom of the third by Bautista hitting a double, scoring Ben Revere.

Heading to the seventh inning, the emotions and intensity of the game would reach its peak. In the top of the seventh, Texas would get a man on but would get the next two out. Odor would then score after Russell Martin would throw the ball that would hit Choo’s bat. The Toronto faithful would show their displeasure by throwing beer cans on the field, which would hold the game for 18 minutes.

In the bottom of the seventh, Martin would get on first off an error by Andrus. Pillar would get on first, getting Martin on second as Mitch Moreland would commit a throwing error. Dalton Pompey would come into the game to pinch run for Martin, who would get to third off a bunt by Ryan Goins and would be called safe after Texas would commit their third error in a row. The Rangers were not being able to handle the ball to get any outs. After Ben Revere would reach first with a fielders choice as Moreland would throw the ball home to get Pompey out, Donaldson would step up to the dish and deliver a bloop single that would tie the game by scoring Kevin Pillar.

Bautista would follow, and on a 1-1 count, Jose would launch his 2nd postseason home run off Sam Dyson scoring three runs to take a 6-3 lead. Afterwards before Edwin would step to the plate, he would try to settle the crowd down. Sam Dyson took exception thinking he was trying to pump them up, and benches would clear. Tulo would strike out to end out the seventh, Dyson would then head to Tulo, slapping him on the butt. The two would exchange words, as the benches would clear once more. He would come out for the ninth as well, sitting all five players that came to the plate down to the pine, as Osuna would get his first career postseason save.

The City of Toronto would go insane. Their Toronto Blue Jays would be heading to the ALCS to face the Kansas City Royals. The Jays won the season series against the Royals 4-3, and there has been a lot of bad blood between the two clubs. In this writer’s opinion, I would not be surprised if both benches get warnings before game one, which will take place Friday night in Kansas City. Marco Estrada has been chosen to take the rubber, as Edinson Volquez will counter him. First pitch is set to begin at 8:07PM EST.