The Toronto Blue Jays got big days from JA Happ, Donaldson and Tulo to beat the Athletics Saturday afternoon.
After a terrible day yesterday that was capped off by an ugly loss, the Blue Jays looked to shake some demons and stop the losing skid.
J.A. Happ did his part early on. He was working quickly and effectively. Through 3 innings, he’d only thrown 40 pitches; 40 easy pitches. He gave up a mistake to Mark Canha in the first inning, but settled down after that.
The Blue Jays bats were given the gift of a pitcher who was serving up very hittable offerings. Nothing helps an offensive cold streak like some meaty pitching. Chris Bassitt was tossing in rather straight offerings early on and the Blue Jays made him pay for it. Of course, the A’s defense did not help out the cause for their pitcher. The Blue Jays picked away in the first with soft contact, singles and dribblers that brought 2 runs in. Bassitt would end the day with a line of 5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.
The 4th inning saw a bit of trouble as Jed Lowrie singled and moved over on a Billy Butler single. And then, another single from Coco Crisp plated a run. But after that, Happ strolled along through the afternoon. His final line: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, BB, K, HR on 92 pitches. Thus far, in his second go with the Blue Jays, Happ is very much shedding the memories of his last tour of duty.
“Russ (Martin) did a good job,” Happ said. “We were just trying to mix it up. We threw a lot of curveballs today.”
The second inning saw the score jump by 3 runs thanks to a home run from Josh Donaldson, his 7th of the year. Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera were on base at the time. Carrera was inserted into the leadoff spot and didn’t disappoint, setting a career high with four hits and adding a pair of nice catches in the outfield.
“It’s one of the best games I ever played in my life,” the Venezuelan told reporters via a translator.
“He’ll be back in there tomorrow,” John Gibbons added. “I can tell you that.”
After watching him flub a play in LF on Friday, it was nice to see Carrera in good shape defensively. Perhaps, he heard the first episode of Whisper Songs (our latest audio quick hit program) and it motivated him.
Troy Tulowitzki would add his first solo home run in the 5th inning. In the 6th inning, former Blue Jay, Liam Hendriks came in for the A’s and gave up a double to Kevin Pillar and then drilled Donaldson in the leg. Whether it looked intentional, or not seemed to be up for debate. Hendriks looked unhappy about it.
“I tried to run it in and ran it in too far,” Hendriks said. “I’m still trying to find my location up, but there was definitely no intention against Donaldson.”
The next batter, Jose Bautista, drove a sac fly to RF to score Pillar. That brought the score to 7-2.
To start the very next inning, Happ showed support for his teammate by drilling Khris Davis on the first pitch. That resulted in a warning. But, the value of standing up for your best player mitigates any warning. Davis would end up scoring in the inning, but since it only brought the score to 7-3, the beaning had to happen. Tulo’s second solo shot of the game got that run back anyway: 8-3 Blue Jays.
Donaldson would add a run in the 8th with a single that scored Carrera who was on third thanks to a throwing error on a simple comebacker to the pitcher. Gavin Floyd came on in the 8th to finish off the game.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 23, 2016
— Blue Jays Fans (@BJsFans) April 23, 2016
The Tulo Hate Club right now: pic.twitter.com/s8g6kE4QIz
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Play of the Game:
This goes to the 3 double plays by Tulo and Ryan Goins. This combination up the middle is looking so smooth. And, the more you see it, the better it looks. The chemistry is noticeable and is resulting in #SexyBaseball. Just what will happen when Devon Travis returns remains to be seen. But, that is way down the road. For now, this is pretty to watch.
It might be poor form, but today’s game ball gets shared between Happ and Donaldson. His 4 RBI led the charge. And, the start from Happ was such a change from what we’re used to. He looks more confident, he works quicker and more efficiently. It might be tempting to give the Game Ball Carrera with his 4 hits and nice catch. But, I’m not quite there, yet. Of course, we have to acknowledge the 2 HR day from Tulo!
The game turned when Josh Donaldson brought rain to the Rogers Centre. His 3-run shot created a gap that the As would not be able to come back from. On the season, Donaldson has 7 HR and 19 RBI.
News & Notes:
Before the game started, we heard that Michael Saunders is close to being ready to return in the next day or so. Heading into today’s contest, Happ’s ERA was the 2nd lowest in baseball since August. This is the first time the Blue Jays have scored 8 runs in a game this season.
Next Game: Blue Jays will wrap up the series against the A’s on Sunday at 1:07ET. It is also Josh Donaldson MVP Bobblehead Day. Drew Hutchison will get the start for the Blue Jays.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.