In a game where runs were coming easy, the Blue Jays offense would erupt outscoring the twins en route to victory
Moving on from a disappointing series against Los Angeles, the Blue Jays would put their sights on the Twins. Francisco Liriano would lead the Jays into the first game of the three game set, looking to replicate his excellent last outing. Pat Dean would toe the rubber for the Twins.
It didn’t take long for the Twins to strike, as they would jump into the lead in the top of the first. In his lone blemish of the inning, Liriano would give up a solo shot to Trevor Plouffe, putting the Twins up 1-0.
The Blue Jays wouldn’t take much longer to get on the board either. Toronto however, would do much more significant damage. A couple of BABIP singles would get Troy Tulowitzki and Melvin Upton Jr. on base to start the inning. A Darwin Barney pop out in foul territory would bring the struggaling Justin Smoak to the dish. Smoak wouldn’t struggle in this at bat though, breaking an 0-29 drought with RISP. Smoak would break it in style driving a Smoak bomb to center putting the Jays up 3-1. It wouldn’t stop there either. After Ezequiel Carrera grounded out, Jose Bautista would single bringing Josh Donaldson to the plate with a man on. The reigning MVP would make the Twins pay, depositing a 416 foot home run in the bleachers in right center.
The Twins would follow up by getting one back in the top of the third. Liriano’s propensity to walking the ballpark showed a bit. A lead off walk to Kurt Suzuki was followed by a chopper in between the mound and first base. Liriano would get his glove on it, but couldn’t make the play, the official scorer chalking it up as an error. A Brian Dozier fly out and another walk (this time to Robbie Grossman) would load the bases for the home run hitter, Trevor Plouffe. This time Plouffe wouldn’t send it as deep flying out to right. The ball would carry far enough to score Kurt Suzuki.
Toronto wouldn’t let the Twins stay that close for long, scoring another run in the bottom of the third. After a couple of quick outs Melvin Upton Jr. would continue his personal hit parade, getting his second it of the day. A Darwin Barney single would bring Justin Smoak up again with two on, and the Smoak show continued. Justin Smoak would rip a single to left field scoring Upton, putting the Jays up by four again.
The trading of runs would continue into the fourth as Liriano would continue to struggle to locate. Another lead off walk, this time to Max Kepler, would start the trouble. After striking out Jorge Polanco, Liriano would walk another one (this time Eduardo Escobar) putting 2 on with one out. Kurt Suzuki would take full advantage of the runners on, ripping a line drive to center field that would score both. Liriano would close out the inning striking out Eddie Rosario and forcing a Brian Dozier fly out.
Andrew Albers would replace Pat Dean to start the bottom of the fourth, leaving Dean with a terrible line of 3 IP 8 H 6 R 6 E 1BB and 1 SO. Albers would fare much better to start, pitching a scoreless 4th and 5th. Liriano would also pitch a scoreless fifth before giving way to Joe Biagini, exiting with a final line of 5 IP 2 H 4 R 3 ER 4 BB (!) and 7 SO. It wouldn’t matter who was pitching unfortunately, as the Twins would continue to chip away against Biagini as well. Kepler and Escobar singles paired with a Suzuki hit by pitch would load the bases for the Twins with one away. Biagaini would escape with limited damage though, striking out Brian Dozier after an Eddie Rosario sacrifice fly.
The way this game was going, the Jays weren’t going to stand by and watch the Twins just close the gap. Darwin Barney would lead off the inning with his fourth home run of the year, adding some cushion back to the Jays lead. A loud out from Saunders and Carrera reaching on error would close the book on Albers. Pat Light would replace Albers to try to stop the bleeding.
Despite striking out Joes Bautista for the second out it didn’t look good for Light. Zeke would advance to third on a stolen base and error on the strikeout. Then a walk to Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion would load the bases with 2 out, bringing up the scorching hot Russell Martin. Martin would drill his fifteenth double to left center, clearing the bases. Light would then walk Tulo with a wild pitch allowing Martin to advance to third at the same time. That would close the book on Light, bringing in Michael Tonkin. Tonkin would do the job inducing a ground ball off of the bat of Upton to end the inning. After some great padding, the Jays would head into the last three innings up 10-5.
After Joaquin Benoit would pitch a scoreless top of 7th, the Jays would keep it floored through the bottom. A Barney double, Smoak single, Bautista double, Donaldson single, Martin HR, and Tulowitzki walk would all combine for another 5 runs for the Jays to close out the seventh. The Twins would get a couple back off of Aaron Loup in the top of the 8th on a Polanco liner, Escobar double, Suzuki sacrifice fly, and Rosario single. Loup would struggle again in the 9th, getting touched up for another run, but would close things out for the Jays.
Final Score: Blue Jays – 15 – Twins – 8
WP: Francisco Liriano (7) LP: Pat Dean (4)
Team record: 72-56
PLAY OF THE GAME
The JFtC play of the game goes to the slump busting Smoak bomb. Justin’s home run would be the start of an absolutely fantastic game for him.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 27, 2016
Today’s game ball goes to Justin freaking Smoak. After being completely useless over the last little bit, Justin broke out of his slump in a big way. Smoak had an absolutely phenomenal outing going 3 for 5 with 5 RBI and 2 runs.
Today’s turning point came in the bottom of the sixth. The Twins had closed the gap to within one and Albers had put together a couple of great innings in a row. Darwin Barney would lead off the inning with a wall scraper to left that would start a fantastic inning for the Jays. The 4 run inning would turn out to be more than enough to close out the Twins.
NEWS & NOTES
Dioner Navarro is back! The Blue Jays completed a deal sending Colton Turner to the White Sox to bring back the Blue Jays catcher just in time for a playoff run. Get more details from Jays From the Couch here.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 26, 2016
Devon Travis remained out of the line-up with a thumb injury. Barry Davis passed along positive news, however:
For what it's worth, I just saw Devon and he says he feels good enough to play. #BlueJays being cautious
— Barry Davis (@BarryDavis_) August 26, 2016
Gibbons says you can bank of Travis returning tomorrow. Says one more day will do him good. #BlueJays
— Barry Davis (@BarryDavis_) August 26, 2016
Tonight, Troy Tulowitzki extended his hitless streak to 3 games. Per Sportsnet Stats, this was the first time in a long time that Tulo hasn’t registered a hit in three straight.
#BlueJays Troy Tulowitzki is batting 0-for-8 over his last 2 games. He hasn't gone 3 consecutive games without a hit since April 27-30.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) August 26, 2016
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison-flickr UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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A group benefits consultant by day, Dustin is sports fanatic who loves talking sports more than anything. A self-glossed stats geek, he loves diving into the numbers behind the game. A proud father of 2 amazing kids, Dustin was born in Calgary, and now lives in Morinville.