Greetings, Jays fans! The first week of the season ended with the Blue Jays pulling even with a 2-2 record after their opening series with the New York Yankees. The standings in the AL East looked like this:
Not a bad start to the year, considering the Blue Jays only won 2 of their first 11 games in 2017 and never recovered. A woefully bad April would be a sign of things to come, but how did the Blue Jays fare this week against the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers?
Game Five: Streaking
Game Five saw new starter Jaime Garcia pitch six solid innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out seven. Josh Donaldson belted his first home run of the season, as did Russell Martin. Despite Jose Abreu delivering three hits in the loss, the White Sox just couldn’t seem to get their big hits to happen with runners on base. Welington Castillo cranked two home runs, but both were solo shots. Roberto Osuna did his thing in the 9th and shut down any notions of a Chicago comeback. Overall, the pitching was solid and the Jays did all that they needed to get the win. This means three in a row for the Jays and a nice little winning streak.
Game Six: The First Blowout
Game 6 of the young season saw the Jays explode at the plate with 15 home runs in their first blowout, a 14-5 pounding of the White Sox. J.A. Happ was not particularly good, going 5.1 innings giving up 7 hits and 4 earned runs while striking out nine. The two home runs he gave up were solo shots. The 8th inning saw the Jays rack up seven runs of offense and it was a real gong show for White Sox pitching. Gregory Infante pitched 0.1 innings and gave up 3 hits…and 5 runs. Yikes. Enjoy the hit parade in MLB’s quick roundup:
Game Seven: No Sweep For You
The streak came to an end with a 4-3 loss at home to the White Sox in the finale of the three game set. Aaron Sanchez gave up six hits and three runs across six innings in the losing effort. The hitting was fine, with Justin Smoak continuing his hot start to the year with two hits, but the Jays faced the same challenge the White Sox had in their first loss of the series. Ryan Tepera gave up a big bomb to Jose Abreu in the 8th inning and the rest was academic. Not much to say here except sometimes things don’t line up well in games and no amount of hits scattered across nine innings will generate the runs needed for the win. The Sox bullpen was excellent once starter Carson Fulmer left the game and kept the game locked down in their favour after the Abreu homer. The Jays get the series win and move on to Texas for a three game set.
Game Eight: Same Old Thing
The bats remained super hot going to Arlington and the Jays bounced back in their road opener with an 8-5 victory on the Texas Rangers. The Jays are used to pounding on the Rangers these days:
One sided is right. This game got out of hand quickly as Marco Estrada put in six strong innings, giving up just one earned run. Solarte and Martin went deep with the latter going 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs. Aaron Loop gave up a three run blast to Shin-Soo Choo in the 7th inning, but that was about it from the Rangers. It was great seeing Estrada have a quality start and get his 1st win. The depth of the Jays’ pitching is going to be a key factor in their season’s success.
Game Nine: Surprise!
Finally, it was the Rangers’ turn to mash as they beat up on the Jays 5-1 in a game that saw the Blue Jays very quiet at the plate, hitting only two (!!) balls the whole game. Mike Minor looked good for Texas in his six innings, striking out seven batters and giving up those two hits. It was a pounding that also saw Marcus Stroman pitch poorly with five walks. It’s a long season, so there’s plenty of time for Stroman to turn it around, but his first two starts have been significant disappointments to start the year. Oh well, on to the rubber match!
Game Ten: Series Win!
The Jays win their second straight series beating up on starter/ace Cole Hamels in a 7-4 drumming of the Rangers. Steve Pearce hit the first pitch of the game for a home run, which more or less set the tone for the rest of the game. Kendrys Morales also went deep in the 1st inning for a three run blast, and also went 2 for 4 as he looked like the Morales of old. Great news!
Jaime Garcia got the win and I have to say, I’m very pleased with the number five starter thus far. He didn’t get the win on start number one, but he did in the rubber match and he’s definitely earned his keep in the rotation. Enjoy the game’s highlights:
Well, a 4-2 record was better than I had predicted and the Jays find themselves in good shape ten games into the season. Here are the AL East Standings as of April 8th’s end of day:
Not bad, considering how terrible the opening was to last season. This coming week will be a big test as the Jays play the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians. Both teams have underachieved to start the year but have strong rosters. It should be a competitive week. Again, if the Jays can get out of this week with three out of six games ending with a win, they will continue to be on the right track. The key is going to be consistent pitching from Marcus Stroman and the struggling guys in the bullpen. The hitting seems to be putting together good at bats and are grinding starters from the first pitch. Justin Smoak has been the MVP at the plate as well. This is going to be a fun season if the wins keep coming! See you next week.