jays 18 in Phillies eleven
The Blue Jays pounced on Kyle Gibson early, building a 6-0 lead in three innings while threatening to turn him into a laugh behind a resplendent Ross Stripling. Too often this year, bats have gone quiet after building an early lead, costing them outright in the standings or holding on to white-knuckle leads that increased the workload of the back of the bullpen.
While they never actually delivered a decisive knockout blow against Gibson, the offensive barrage kept coming and going relentlessly. Which proved important when Stripling faltered in the middle of the innings and turned into a close game, and later when Julian Merryweather hit big turbulence to be a stone’s throw away at the end. The only real downside was the pace that necessarily suffered as time approached four hours and about an hour to go for the last nine outs.
The Blue Jays attacked Gibson early on, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. cutting off a single (after George Springer lined in a much more impressive contact) and Alejandro Kirk walking with two outs to bring in Matt Chapman. He hit a commanding shot to left to give the Blue Jays a lead they would ultimately never relinquish despite some efforts to the contrary.
They added another pair in the second when Danny Jansen led off the inning with a can of corn down the left field line that Kyle Schwarber never really saw and sank. Cavan Biggio fired one of his own to put runners in the corners, before Springer knocked out Jansen with a single. Kirk drove Biggio home with two outs on a single. More damage followed in the third, as it was Teoscar Hernandez’s turn to open with a double, cashing in a double from Jansen.
Ross Stripling, meanwhile, was absolutely fantastic from the start, so it looked like the Blue Jays were poised to cruise to a fairly easy victory. His changeup in particular had a devastating fade, and he was nearly perfect the first time around, allowing only a leading double in the second to JT Realmuto who was stranded.
The second time didn’t go so well though, starting with Schwarber making decent contact to finish third. An even tougher lineout for Teoscar opened the fourth, followed by Bryce Harper and Realmuto with singles. With two outs, an infield single broke the shutout, but he was still 6-1 and there was reason to think he could go 6 innings.
Unfortunately, the fifth was no better even at the bottom of the order. Stripling challenged Dalton Guthrie with a fastball on the letters, and got tattooed for his first MLB home run (7-2). Not a big deal in and of itself, but two more line drive singles followed, and then another laser beam double (7-3_. Their night ended with another RBI single by Bryce Harper (7-4).
Zach Pop wasn’t much better to begin with, giving up a third hit to Realmuto to make it 7-5 with the Phillies in over position. He was rescued when, after inducing a fly ball, Stott tattooed a ball just to Springer at CF, and doubled Harper at second to end the inning. To his credit, Pop recovered in a quick and orderly sixth inning.
Fortunately, the Blue Jays kept going. Jansen had cashed in a leadoff double from Chapman in the fifth, and they added another in the sixth thanks to an error by Stott after a leadoff double by Springer. Teoscar hit a leadoff double in the 7th, scoring after Tapia hit a ball to the right of the left-field line and ran to third. He later scored to make it 10-5.
After Tim Mayza worked with ease in the bottom of the sixth with two strikeouts, it looked like the Blue Jays were on cruise control. Then things got really wild. The Blue Jays’ first five batters reached the eighth with two free passes and two singles, capped off by a double by Tapia. Three outs followed, but at 14-5 it looked like a laugh as the Jays made several substitutions.
That included bringing in Merryweather for what should have been an easy cleanup, but he immediately had two singles broken to get himself in trouble (to be fair, one of them was Realmuto who was doing that to everyone). Then a walk to load the bases, strike out and walk. A grounder traded a run for the second out, but then challenged Kyle Schwarber with an uphill fastball, and well … he can do more damage than Guthrie.
Then at 14-10, suddenly it wasn’t a boat race anymore. David Phelps got the last out quickly to send him to the ninth, but of course it wasn’t going to be a quick, drama-free inning either. The Phillies brought in old (brief) friend Brad Hand, who apparently decided to throw against the Blue Jays while he was throwing for them, with a few more defensive lapses mixed in. Jackie Bradley Jr.
Catcher Garrett Stubbs used a series of tricks to get the final two outs.
Of course, the bottom of the inning also had some drama, as Realmuto homered for his fifth hit. With two out, Bichette grounded out and the bases were loaded before Phelps happily finished it off at 18-11.
jays of the day: Chapman (+.235 WPA) is the only one by the numbers due to the distributed nature of the attack, with five others finishing between +.048 and +.071. We’ll add Springer (2 of 5, BB), Teoscar (4 of 5) and Jansen (3 of 6) as the rush ended up being pretty big. Pop (+.176) also has the number but paradoxically most of it was for the first inning that he didn’t deserve in the slightest.
suction: Nude (-.206). And Merryweather (-.017) in principle despite being well below the mark. Bichette had the lowest water mark among hitters at -.077 (plus error).
Tomorrow, the Blue Jays will look to sweep the two-game miniseries in Philadelphia, with Kevin Gasuman once again taking the mound against another team’s ace in Zack Wheeler at 6:45 EDT.