Toronto Blue Jays lean on the long ball to grab the second game of the two game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks
The Toronto Blue Jays and the Arizona Diamondbacks squared off for the second of the mini two game series in a late afternoon game on Wednesday. Toronto was looking to get back in the win column after dropping their last three games, while Arizona was looking to keep their five game winning streak alive. The Blue Jays sent LHP J.A. Happ to the mound, while Arizona countered with their own hard throwing LHP in Robbie Ray.
Arizona’s starter Ray was introduced to the heart of the Blue Jays order in hurry this afternoon as the offense took flight early when Russell Martin launched a long 3-run home run to center field. His drive cashed in both Josh Donaldson, who reached with a double and Edwin Encarnacion, who reached via a walk.
— Andrew Hockridge (@drewhockridge) June 22, 2016
Arizona got on the board with 2 outs in the third inning when a line drive single off the bat of Philip Gosselin took a sharp bounce to the left of the inexperienced OF Ceciliani and rolled all the way to the wall. The error was compounded by back-to-back walks to Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt and Rickie Weeks –Happ’s third free pass of the inning — which loaded the bases. Fortunately, for the Blue Jays, Happ was able to find the strike zone to end the inning when catcher Welington Castillo watched a called third strike catch the inside edge.
The Diamondbacks would chip away at Blue Jays’ lead in the fourth when OF Michael Bourn cashed in Yasmany Tomas — who reached earlier on a double to right field — with an RBI single to center field to make it 3-2.
Happ would struggle with this command through much of this game. He battled his way through 5 IP striking out 8 and worked into deep counts on many of the Arizona hitters. This was evident by his 99 pitches through his five innings of work. His most impressive inning was his last when struck out the side after the first two batters reached base on singles. His final line for the afternoon would be 5 IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 4BB, 8K. Not the outing the Blue Jays were looking for but, he kept them in the game long enough for him to grab his 9th W of the season.
While the Blue Jays would go to their bullpen for the 6th inning for Gavin Floyd who tossed a clean inning, the Diamondbacks decided to get a little more out of their starter. This proved a mistake as Encarnacion delivered his 19th home run of the game to chase Ray from the game. His replacement Zach Godley would suffer a similar fate when SS Troy Tulowitzki tagged the reliever for his 10th home run of the season to extend Toronto’s lead to 5-2.
Relievers Drew Storen in the 7th and Jason Grilli in the 8th would do their part by each adding a scoreless inning to this game. Combined with the clean inning added from Floyd in the 6th, they bridged the gap to Roberto Osuna in fine fashion.
Osuna, with the help of a couple nice plays from Devon Travis, would get through the ninth with relative ease to notch his 14th save of the season, and his first since June 3rd.
PLAY OF THE GAME:
Today’s play of the game goes to the lovable Edwin Encarnacion when he crushed a 6th inning HR to give the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead. It always special when a player can do something special on a day when the team is giving away items to fans in their honour.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 22, 2016
The JFtC game ball goes to Russell Martin this evening. Not only did the Canadian get things started for the Blue Jays with a big 3R HR in the first, he also worked Happ through several tight situations on a day where he clearly wasn’t at his best.
Today’s turning point came in two phases. First, with 2 runners on, no outs, and only a one run lead in the top of the fifth, Happ knuckled down to strike out the side to keep the Blue Jays ahead. His ability to escape the inning unscathed lead to the second phase with Toronto’s bats tacking on 2 insurance runs with home runs from Encarnacion and Tulowitzki in the 6th.
NEWS & NOTES:
The Blue Jays traded LHP Wade Leblanc to the Mariners for cash or PTBNL, according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. The Mariners were in need of starting pitching after issues with Taijuan Walker and Felix Hernandez. Leblanc was 7-2 with a 1.71 ERA over 14 GS with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) June 22, 2016
With his home run in the 6th inning, Tulo reached a personal milestone of 700 RBIs in his career.
With that Home Run, Troy Tulowitzki reaches a personal milestone pic.twitter.com/RJAfCYjy9P
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 22, 2016
Toronto has another off-day on Thursday before heading to Chicago to take on on the White Sox for a 3 game set. The Blue Jays will be looking to take advantage of a stumbling White Sox crew who swept a 3 game series at the Rogers Centre back in April, outscoring Toronto 21-6.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison- UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.