The Bringer of Rain provides the storm in Seattle with a huge night at the dish as the Blue Jays pull closer to a wild card spot.
The Blue Jays were able to jump on the Mariners starter, James Paxton, early in today’s matinee matchup. Kevin Pillar started the first inning with a double down left field line and was followed by an opposite field shot by the Blue Jays Bringer of Rain, Josh Donaldson. The Blue Jays would continue to score in the fourth inning via the small ball. With two out, Pillar would add another double to his day. His hit would be followed by a Donaldson single, a Jose Bautista walk and Kendrys Morales single. Donaldson would score Pillar and Morales would score Donaldson in the sequence.
The Blue Jays would only collect eight hits on the day, with three of those knocks coming from Donaldson. Even with the limited hits, the Jays offense would score enough as the Blue Jays pitching would do the rest. For his first win of the season, J.A. Happ looks to have regained some of his 2016 form. The former 20-game winner pitched six strong innings, striking out eight batters while only allowing six hits and walking just one batter. Happ twice stranded a runner on third base to avoid the Mariners gaining any momentum. Happ would strike out Taylor Motter to end the second and get Kyle Seager to ground out to end the third. Both situations would have given the M’s some confidence. Fortunately, our big lefty handled the situations in impressive and unwavering fashion.
Happ’s positive game has a huge weight on the direction of the Blue Jays season. If Happ can become the pitcher of old, the Blue Jays will trend in the right direction. Especially as the Blue Jays inch closer to the .500 mark. The Blue Jays now hold a record of 31-32 and have been very impressive over their last 20 games. The Blue Jays were able to split their West Coast swing and now sit 1.5 games back of the second wildcard spot currently being held by the Cleveland Indians.
In a game with many positives, it is hard to find game lowlights but there is always a couple things to look at. The Blue Jays continue to struggle offensively by the second base fill-ins. Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins are continuing to prove that they are depth players for the Blue Jays and not roster starters. Darwin Barney would finish today’s game 0 for 3 and in the eighth would be pinch hit for by Ryan Goins who would promptly strike out with his attempt to provide offense. This further spotlights the Jays need to add to this position or to the left field position if we want to make a serious playoff push. No serious contending team has two giant black holes on it batting card.
In order to preserve the shutout, the Blue Jays had to use six arms, including closer Roberto Osuna to stop the floodgates from opening in the bottom of the ninth. In a game where you have a chance, with a four-run lead, to preserve the arm of your young stud it is a hard pill to swallow that you need to bring him in to record the final out and guarantee the win.
Also, it’s tough to see both lefty specialists appear and depart without recording a single out, but that’s what happened to both Aaron Loup and Jeff Beliveau today. Both gave up hits to the only batters they would face (Beliveau to Ben Gamel and Loup to Robinson Cano). LOOGYs need to be able to get their targets out.
The win pushes Happ’s record to 1-4 on the season. The performance looked like the Happ that Blue Jays fans have come to enjoy watching last season. He was in command of his pitches and really located and worked his fastball. The emergence of Happ’s health will only lead to future wins for the Jays.
With Russell Martin getting a routine day off for some well-deserved rest, fill-in Luke Maile handled duties behind the plate admirably. Maile and Happ were in a groove all game and the change up never faltered the confidence of the pitching staff.
Osuna will be credited with his 16th save of the season. He has been on fire since his rocky start and the constant emergence of his dominance will bring the Jays confidence late in games.
Player of the Game:
— Ryan Andrews 📎 (@NeoAC18) June 12, 2017