Donaldson Flashes his MVP Form; Blue Jays win 7-2

The Blue Jays offense kept things rolling in Philadelphia on their way to a 7-2 win to grab a 2-1 series lead.

 

The Blue Jays rolled into Philadelphia to begin the second leg of the home-and-home series with hopes of grabbing both games to keep pace in the now crowded American League East division. Tonight they sent their most reliable pitcher to the mound in Marco Estrada to square off against Jeremy Hellickson.

Edwin Encarnacion got things going in the second inning by launching his 17th HR into the second deck. This was EE’s 5th home run and tenth RBI in his last 5 games.

After a solo home run off the bat of Cody Asche tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the second, Toronto’s bats went to work getting the lead back in the fourth inning. After consecutive walks to Josh Donaldson and Encarnacion, Russell Martin drove in Donaldson with a sacrifice fly — his 6th straight game with a RBI, tying a career high — which was made possible by a perfectly executed double steal. Hellickson was able to get the second out of the inning, but ran into trouble when Ryan Goins delivered a run scoring single to centre field, which was quickly followed by a RBI double off the bat of Devon Travis to give the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead. 

Phillies starter, Hellickson, would leave the game after six innings with 107 pitches. His final line of the night 6IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 4K. Not a terrible night in all, but he did spend a lot of time nibbling around the plate. He would be replaced by RHP reliever Colton Murray.

Estrada would do Estrada things again on this night. Despite allowing a solo home run in the second inning, and a run scoring double in the fourth — both to Asche — he settled in immediately after both hiccups.  In fact, he would retire seven straight after the HR, along with ten straight immediately after the double until a single in the 7th that lead to his exit. Estrada would leave with a 4-2 lead after an excellent 6.2 IP, 4H, 2ER, BB, 5K performance on 104 pitches. 

Philadelphia would go to their bench in the form of Ryan Howard, with a runner on in the second, however, reliever Jesse Chavez would strikeout Howard on four pitches to end the threat. This would be Chavez’s 7th consecutive appearance without surrendering a run, a streak that spreads over 9 IP, with 3H and 10K. 

With the game having been scoreless since the fourth inning, Philadelphia went to reliever Hector Neris to for the eighth inning. Neris would be promptly greeted with Josh Donaldson’s 16th home run of the season, this one to left field to give Toronto a little more breathing room at 5-2. 

It would seem the home run rattled Neris a bit, as he proceeded to walk Encarnacion and hit Martin with a pitch. After tagging and reaching third on a Kevin Pillar fly-ball, EE would score on a RBI ground out off the bat of Ryan Goins, which was immediately followed by a two-out single by Travis to open the game up at 7-2. Neris would be chased from the game after surrendering 3 runs on 3 hits in 2/3 of an inning.

The Blue Jays bullpen combination of Chavez, Chad Girodo and Drew Storen would combine for 2.1 IP, giving up two hits and zero runs. Like Chavez, Storen is in the midst of the good streak himself, having only surrendered only 2ER over his last 9.1 IP, with 8K.

 

PLAY OF THE GAME:

Josh Donaldson granted us with, not one, but two, stellar defensive plays on the evening.

The first came in the 3rd inning where he ranged into foul ball territory to make the play and delivered a long strike to Encarnacion at first.

The second came in the 6th inning on a shot down the line where he made an excellent diving grab, followed by a strong throw which was reigned in by a smooth pick by Encarnacion. 

GAME BALL:

Tonight’s game ball goes to Josh Donaldson. Not only did he give us some gold glove calibre defense on multiple occasions he also had an excellent night at the plate going 2 for 4, with 2 runs scored, a walk, and an RBI (HR).

TURNING POINT:

Despite having a 4-2 lead at the time, tonight’s turning point came in the bottom of the seventh inning when Chavez came up with the strikeout of Howard, who would have been the tying run. Toronto would go on to add 3 more runs in the next half inning to blow it open 7-2.

NEWS & NOTES:

As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported this morning the Blue Jays have recalled Andy Burns and LHP Chad Girodo. With them playing in a National League park for 2 games, it makes sense to have the extra bench player.

NEXT GAME:

Toronto is in Philadelphia for their last game of the home-and-home series with the Phillies on Thursday. The Starting pitchers tomorrow will feature J.A. Happ and Aaron Nola. Check out our series preview here for an in-depth breakdown.

 

*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr)- 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.