John Gibbons must be happy he didn’t give Edwin Encarnacion a day off.
Needing to get Adam Lind some playing time, but restricted with Jose Bautista DHing, the Blue Jays leading slugger found himself starting in left field this afternoon. And his bat came through in the bottom of the 9th, hitting a three-run walkoff home run, as Toronto swept the NL-leading Milwaukee Brewers with a 7-4 come-from-behind win.
Edwin re-joins Nelson Cruz and Jose Abreu atop the MLB leaderboard with 26 home runs, and he’s in sole possession of the RBI lead with 69!
Here’s what stood out from today’s game.
J.A. Happ was very good for the second straight start. He tossed seven innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits, striking out four. He allowed a run on two lucky hits in the first, then ran into trouble in the third. A single, followed by a double, followed by a triple, and a sac fly allowed three runs to score. From there, he retired 15 of the last 16 he faced, allowing just a cheap bunt single in the 7th.
Bautista homered for the second straight day in the first inning. It’s great to have in the lineup. But on the two groundballs he hit in the infield, he wasn’t even running at 50% speed. I’d be very surprised if he’s back in right field tomorrow.
That could be bad news for Lind, who had another ho-hum two hit day, to raise his batting average to .341. He played first today with Eddie in the Outfield, but that will be a tougher assignment in Oakland’s spacious stadium. And with more left-handed starters on the horizon, tomorrow may be his last chance to start for a few days.
Johnny McFrank clubbed his first dinger in 12 games, a moonshot to right field (off a BREAKING BALL, no less!) He’s going to have to pick it up to help turn things around, with Brett Lawrie expected to miss another month.
John Gibbons was ejected for coming out to argue an overturned challenge. That’s an automatic, and inexcusable. He obviously wanted to vent about the strike zone, too, but still, not smart. The other possibility is he was trying to “rally the troops”, which is just really dumb.
In both the 7th and 9th innings, with runners on first and second and nobody out, the Blue Jays were unable to successfully execute a sacrifice bunt. In the 7th, Darin Mastroianni bunted into a catcher-throws-to-third-to-first double play. In the 9th, Anthony Gose bunted back to the pitcher, who got the force at third. Then Mastroianni struck out. That’s what happens when you use Gose and Mastro to replace Bautista and Lind in the 7th inning.
Bunting in the situation isn’t even a great idea in the first place. This is a team that’s built around power, not small ball. Stick with what got you there.
And finally, the Jays were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Six of seven runs came off home runs. That’s not going to cut it moving forward.
The Jays hit the road for a crucial 10-game road trip through Oakland (four), Anaheim (three), and Tampa Bay (three). This portion of the schedule has the potential to be disastrous. All three teams are playing very good ball right now. Oakland is the top team in the league, while the Angels have won 8 of their last 10. The Rays have turned it up a notch, too, having won 7 of 10. And to be honest, they could be in a spell of losing 25 out of 30, and I’d still be worried about Toronto going there. Remember, the Jays haven’t won a series in Tampa Bay since 1917. Or something like that.
R.A. Dickey takes on Sonny Gray on Thursday night (we miss out on Marcus Stroman vs Gray by one day). That would have been fun, since they’re both diminuitive and often draw comparisons.
Brett Cecil might rejoin the team on the trip, and we could see Erik Kratz back up as the team looks for a right-handed bat with some power to combat all the lefties (since Brad Glenn hasn’t provided any of that).
This stretch of games could solidify the Jays as post-season contenders, or could create a hole for them heading into the All-Star break. Time to see what they’re really made of.
For now, this is how we should all feel.