If you like quality pitching, this was a fun game for eight innings, as 27,217 fans were treated to dominating performances by the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman and the Rays' Jake Odorizzi. And if you like hitting yourself in the face with a hammer, the ninth inning was pretty good too.
Things didn't start on the best of notes, as Odor walked the first batter he faced in Michael Saunders on eight pitches. But on the ninth pitch, he retired Josh Donaldson on a double play grounder to Brad Miller. From there, Jake kicked it into cruise control, surrendering just two hits and one additional walk over his seven innings of work, while striking out six. He made very few mistakes. Unfortunately, one of the few was a cutter that was elevated out over the plate to Donaldson in the fourth. The ball left in a hurry over the wall in left for a 1-0 Jays lead.
The only other hit surrendered by Jake was a two-out single by Ezequiel Carrera in the sixth. That threat ended when Zeke was caught stealing by Hank Conger. On a curve ball. No, really. I saw it with my own two eyes.
Ray's (Lack of) Bats
The Rays best chance to score in the early going came in the first with Brad Miller at the plate after a Logan Forsythe lead off single. Miller drove a shot deep to center that only a handful of outfielders get to. One of them is Kevin Kiermaier. Unfortunately, another one is Kevin Pillar.
Stroman cruised from there until the sixth inning, with only a minor hiccup in the third when the Rays put two runners on. Then, with one out in the bottom of the sixth, Evan Longoria took a 2-1 cutter into the seats in left.
Tie game, 1-1.
Unfortunately, that would be it for the Rays' bats. They wouldn't manage another baserunner against Stroman, who went eight strong, giving up just the one run on three hits and two walks, with nine strikeouts.
It felt like a big moment in the seventh when Joey Bats reached on a walk, then moved to second on an errant pickoff. So it was nice to see Odor put on his big boy pants and wiggle out of it (now if that isn't a horrible turn of a phrase, I don't know what is), getting Encarnacion to fly to right, then Tulowitzki swinging at a nasty split to finish his night. And with a clean eight from ErACEmo, you felt pretty good. Even if the bats hadn't put another man on base.
Then Xavier Cedeno came in, and you can stop reading now if you've got a weak stomach.
The X-man gave up a lead off double to pinch hitter Darwin Barney, then walked Saunders on four pitches. Colome relieved Cedeno, and proceeded to walk Donaldson, again on four pitches. Bases loaded, nobody out, Jose Bautista due up. This doesn't look good, does it?
But Colome Rays'd up, getting a huge strikeout swinging of Joey Bats for the first out. Then with Edwin Encarnacion at the plate, El Caballo got a perfect double play grounder. Only one problem: because of the shift, when Frosty fielded the ball on the shortstop side of second, there was no one to make the feed to. The helpless Forsythe did the only thing he could do and took the play at first. 2-1, Blue Jays.
You can dissect that play all day. Personally, I don't like the shift in that situation of this exact reason. However, if you don't have the shift on, nobody is there to make the play anyway. Could Frosty have gone home? Maybe, it's doubtful they get Barney. Plus, Conger never moved out from behind the plate. Forsythe can possibly feed it Miller like he's a pitcher covering first, but then there's no way to make a turn.
It's just unfortunate.
Not as unfortunate as the next batter, though, as Tulo took a 2-1 fastball into the seats in left. 5-1. And for all intents and purposes, that was the ballgame.
The Rays would manage one hit in ninth, a single by Longo off Robert Osuna, but that was it.
- Longo robbed Donaldson in the seventh, but the best part of this was him checking with umpire if the ball was fair or foul before making the throw.
- Tom Hallion (you remember him from ejecting that notorious hothead Jeremy Hellickson a few years ago, right?) did not cost the Rays the game. That doesn't mean he didn't suck, though. He seemed to consult a magic eight ball before making any borderline calls, leaving hitters from both teams wondering what exactly was and wasn't a strike.
- This rundown happened.
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