(Thank you Matt Slocum/Associated Press)
It’s a sweep (kind of)! And Marcus Stroman got his first career win (after the Jays blew another 5-0 lead) in a 6-5 extra innings victory.
At least for the moment, it’s the first sweep, good or bad, that the Jays have been involved in this year (And we should savour it right now because despite this eerily 1993-like home and home series shifting back to the ‘Dome, I’m not sure how I feel about Mark Buehrle vs Cliff Lee).
But this game was not the same negative narrative of the past couple of weeks.
Looking back on legitimate aces of the Blue Jays past, the gold standard (in my memory) is Roger Clemens (who was cheating). He’d routinely get huge strikeout numbers every time you’d go to see him, and the Jays would almost always win.
Then there was…
(I chose to go current, for once)
Roy Halladay was not as consistently dominant as the Rocket, but he was just as much of an ace because even on days that he didn’t have his best stuff and was labouring, allowing a lot of hits, he’d battle through and eat up as many innings as he could.
That was Drew Hutchison tonight, plus a little bit more:
That’s Hutch on first base in the 5th inning after his second hit of the game, but Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer’s applause was symbolic for his performance on the whole. Eight innings allowing 5 earned runs on nine hits with (ONLY!!) one walk and 6 Ks.
You can’t afford to be picky about “quality starts” by their strict definition (minimum 6 innings, maximum 3 earned runs) when innings pitched by the Jays’ starters have come at such a premium.
He allowed a hit in each of the first five innings, but pitched out of those jams. He wasn’t so lucky in the 6th when he allowed three straight hits to start the inning, making it 5-1. With two out, after walking pinch-hitter John Mayberry, Cody Asche hit a grand slam to tie the game.
But because he’d only walked one batter, his pitch count was low. He stayed in for the 7th and 8th, both 1-2-3 innings, and finished with his pitch count at 109 – with 73 for strikes.
Much like Doc Halladay was at times, Hutch was hittable, but he fought his way out of jams and did his best, despite only really making one critical mistake. Because he spoiled a 5-0 lead, he didn’t earn the win. But because he toughed it out, ate up two more innings, and was helped out by the rookie Stroman, closer-of-the-night Aaron Loup, and the Jays’ hot offence, he didn’t get the loss either.
He out-dueled veteran Cole Hamels, who also allowed 5 runs with 6 Ks and only one walk, but only went 6 innings and allowed 10 hits.
(Mini)Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Here’s who helped get it done at the dish.
– Edwin Encarnacion crushed his third homer, and drove in his 18th RBI. He also was a couple of feet short of going deep again in the 7th.
– Colby Rasmus hit his EIGHTH homer of the season, a 2-run “dinger” for his 18th RBI as well.
– Jose Bautista reached base four times, with three hits to boost his average to .302. He’s still reached base every game. Wow.
– Juan Francisco played a solid third base, drove in a couple more runs (including the game-winning sac-fly in the 10th), and scored twice. I don’t think he’s going anywhere.
– Another hit, another extra-base hit for Steve Tolleson. He also drove in a run, for his second in three games.
– Once again, the bullpen got it done. Stroman got his first win with 1.1 scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out a batter with a solid heater down the pipe. The kid’s got nasty movement, and poise on the mound. Loup Garou got two ground-outs for the save.
– Solid day at the dish for the whole team. 6 runs on 12 hits, with eight different players collecting hits (including Hutch, who as mentioned, had TWO hits for the first two of his career). The only guys without hits were the two pinch-hitters, Chris Getz and Dioner Navarro, and a player to be mentioned in…
– Jose Reyes – 0 for 4 again, average down to .181. Only starter without a hit. But they won, so this is nit-picking. He was solid in the field, as usual.
– Brett Lawrie didn’t play, which is bad, but one of the few bad things to focus on tonight.
– … Really, nothing at all.
– Hutch became the third pitcher in Blue Jays history to collect two hits in a game. The first was David Cone, who had two hits in Game 2 of the 1992 World Series. The second? Roy Halladay in 2007.
– Manship, Diekman, Papelbon and Bastardo. These are Phillies relievers that pitched tonight. They’re also fantastic names to make funny Tweet-puns out of (hint hint).
The “series” (if you call it that, it’s not REALLY a sweep yet) shifts back to the ‘Dome and the next couple of pitching match-ups are fantastic. First, as mentioned above, it’s a pair of veteran lefties in Buehrle and Lee, then it’s a pair of veteran righties (though extremely different styles) in R.A. Dickey and (TRAITOR) A.J. Burnett.
The Jays finish the road trip at .500, and while, as DiNic talked about in the preview, they absolutely should have won three more for a 7-1 road trip, they didn’t. Instead, they’re 16-17, and only sit a game and a half out of first. The Phillies are probably their most winnable match-up on this 9-game home stand, so another mini-sweep would be great to gather some steam and really separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Tonight wasn’t perfect, but it was a step in the right direction.
For Jays Balk, I’m @TheAsherRoth.