The Toronto Blue Jays offense continued to struggle but did enough to scratch out a much needed win to open their homestand.
Toronto would send the struggling Francisco Liriano (5-5, 6.15) to the mound on three days rest to take on journeyman, Chris Smith (0-0, 2.77) in the first game of the four-game series. Each team came into the contest with a 44-54 record.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 24, 2017
Another day, another baseball game. pic.twitter.com/jLKz5poF4K
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 24, 2017
Starting Pitcher Matchup
Oakland Athletics – 2 R 2 H 0 E
Toronto Blue Jays – 4 R 8 H 1 E
Russell Martin belted his 10th homerun of the season in the bottom of the first to knot the score at one after a shaky first inning saw Toronto in a 1-0 hole early.
Toronto took the lead in the fourth inning after a Josh Donaldson lead-off double, walks to Justin Smoak and Troy Tulowitzki loaded the bases. Ezequiel Carrera and Ryan Goins would commence to each drive in a run with singles to centrefield. More damage could have been done; however, considering how things have been going of late, two runs and a 3-1 lead was more than welcomed.
After loading the bases, and chasing Oakland reliever, John Axford, Toronto first baseman, Justin Smoak, earned his 65th RBI on the season with a walk to cash in Jose Bautista, who also reached on a walk to start the inning. The run put the home team up 4-2 who, unfortunately, failed to cash in further.
Despite his 8.62 ERA in the month of July, and an uneven start in the first, Liriano, delivered an excellent effort for the Blue Jays on this night. Given he was on short rest his 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K line was exactly what was needed. In his typical fashion his used a long pitches (86, 51 strikes) to get through his start, but limited damage with five groundball outs.
The bullpen once again shined on this night. The combination of Joe Biagini (2 IP, 0 H), Ryan Tepera (1 IP, 0 H) and Roberto Osuna (1 IP, 0 H, 3 K, 25th Save) shut the door on the Athletics to preserve the win for Liriano and the Blue Jays.
Unfortunately the pitching woes of Francisco Liriano followed him home to the Rogers Centre for the first inning. His inability to throw strikes showed up early with back-to-back walks to Rajai Davis and Marcus Semien. He was partially bailed out of trouble when Martin threw out Davis attempting to steal third, but that was short lived. A single from Ryon Healy, and an error from Steve Pearce gave the Athletics a 1-0 lead in the first.
If there are lowlights in a team win while only surrendering two hits, it’s the wasted opportunities by the offense. Not that this is brand new information to most, but there were several opportunities presented that would have allowed this game to be blown open that were quite simply wasted. In total, Toronto would leave eight runners on base while going two-for-eleven with RISP, with a hefty part of those totals coming in the sixth and seven innings.
GM Ross Atkins addresses #BlueJays trade deadline strategy:
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) July 24, 2017
Player of the Game
Nice little game the 2015 Jays would have won 20-2, but who's your @JaysFromCouch Player of the Game?
— Roy-Z. 🐺 (@yeahiroy) July 25, 2017
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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.