Smoak’s Two Big Swings Lead the Blue Jays to Victory

Blue Jays and Rangers locked themselves into another pitcher’s duel until Smoak decided to take matters into his own hands

On a night where the Blue Jays needed a win, they looked to Marco Estrada to help them find one. The Texas Rangers countered with Martin Perez, the young lefty who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Rougned Odor got things started in a hurry for the Rangers by taking the second pitch of the game over the right field wall for quick 1-0 lead.

Estrada quickly shook that off and was able to settle in – despite a few hard hit balls – to keep the Rangers off the board through six innings. His change-up command, which was erratic in the early innings, was once again found, and used to effectively keep Texas hitters off-balance. Estrada left the game after six strong innings trailing 1-0, with his line for his evening of 6IP, 2H, ER, 1BB, 3K on 88 pitches.

Toronto’s attempt to counter fell short on a couple of occasions when they hit into two 4-6-3 double plays in the first and second innings. The offense was able to get runners on base – seven through five innings – but just couldn’t do much with Martin’s offerings, leaving five runners on base.  One positive note being the Blue Jays lineup, once again, was able run the pitch count up on a starting pitcher to force Perez out of the game after five innings.

With both starters gone from the game the bullpens took over. Texas went to relievers Tom Wilhelmsen (6th), Jake Diekman, Tony Barnette (7th), Sam Dyson (8th) and Shawn Tolleson for the ninth. Tolleson was looking for his tenth save of the season when he was quickly greeted with an opposite field home run by Justin Smoak to tie the game at one.

The Blue Jays bullpen was just as impressive with Jesse Chavez, Brett Cecil, Roberto Osuna, and Joe Biagini keeping the Rangers offense off the board for the rest of the game. Biagini worked two scoreless innings to earn the victory – his first in MLB – after Smoak launched his second home run of the game off Texas reliever Phil Klein to win it for the Blue Jays 3-1.

Play of the Game:

Darwin Barney ran down a bloop fly ball off the bat on Adrian Beltre in the eighth inning making a great over the shoulder catch. Without hesitation he turned and fired a strike to Donaldson at third to catch Odor who tried tag and advance on the play.

Ryan Goins who came in the game late after sitting in favour of Barney made a fantastic play in the tenth inning. He never seems to disappoints in the field. 

Game Ball:

Today’s game ball goes to first baseman Justin Smoak. His leadoff HR in the ninth inning gave the Blue Jays some life in this game.

Turning Point:

It felt so good the first time Smoak went back for seconds in the tenth for the WALK OFF!!

News & Notes:

Tonight’s game was the first walk-off win for the Blue Jays this season. It was also the first win recorded by the bullpen who had suffered through an 0-9 record to start 2016.

Next Game:

The Blue Jays will be at home for their third of the four game series with the Texas Rangers. Check out the series preview here.

 

*Featured Image Credit: Johnny Peacock– UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0

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W Black

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.