October 2016

One Bad Pitch, Multiple Bad Calls – ALCS Game 1 Recap 2016

We are the kings of clutch-ness, but last night Cleveland stole that title from us. But just for the day.

On October 14, 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays were set to play the Cleveland Indians in the first game of the American League Championship Series. Grinding off of 5-days rest, things were a bit concerning. Scheduled starting pitcher Marco Estrada does extremely well on 4-5 days rest, but not more then 5.

In the top of the first inning, Carrera struck out, followed by a single from Donaldson and a double from Edwin Encarnacion. With runners on 2nd and 3rd base with one out, Bautista strikes out on a full count, and Russel Martin grounds out to leave two on base in the first inning.

Estrada had an 8 pitch first inning, rather then a 25 pitch first inning from Indians starter and ace Corey Kluber. Leadoff batter, Carlos Santana hit a bunt while our infielders were on a shift, and just like that there is a runner on deck for Jason Kipnis. Luckily for us, he grounds into a double play, and Lindor grounds out to end the inning.

Sadly and truthfully, not much else happened until the bottom of the 6th inning.

After walking Kipnis, Fransisco Lindor hits a 2 run homer to start the inning.

Our offence just didn’t have it’s stuff in game 1. Not advancing the runners to score in the first inning cost them the game. Gibbons said that if we didn’t get to Kluber early, we would have a tough game and that was true. But it wasn’t like they weren’t hitting him, they didn’t cash in any of the runners. Also, many think this loss had to be credited to Laz Diaz, the home plate umpire. Multiple strike outs were not getting proper calls, resulting in a lot less action. Just take a look at this tweet from Barry Davis.

Worst of all, Estrada ended up pitching the complete game with zero run support. That was the first complete game the Blue Jays had a starter pitch all season. Quite a shame.

In game one of last years ALCS, we can look back and see a lot of similarities. Estrada was the losing pitcher and the final score was only 5-0.

On Saturday, the Blue Jays look to bounce back from the loss. Starting pitcher JA Happ will be on the mound facing off against Josh Tomlin.

Stay on the train fans, this series in far from over!

Alyssa Cohen

Revenge is a Dish Best Served with a Broom! – ALDS Game 3 Recap 2016

Imagine loosing to a team in the playoffs, crying about it all year long, finally getting your rematch, and then getting swept. That is exactly what happened to the Texas Rangers.

On October 9, 2016 our Toronto Blue Jays made their way back home to try and complete the sweep against the “best” team in the American League. The Texas Rangers completed the 2016 season with a record of 95-67, only second to the Chicago Cubs (103-58). Over the past two games, they had seemed to really loose their “mogo” and it definitely hurt them today.

I decided to watch the game with my Aunt, as my parents had a wedding to attend and I always prefer to watch games with someone, rather then just myself!

In the first inning, Aaron Sanchez did not look well. He didn’t seem to have much (if any) control of his ball, and it hurt us badly. Sanchez gave up a leadoff walk to Carlos Gomez, and he eventually stole second base. With a ground out from Ian Desmond, Gomez trucks over to third base. With another grounder, the Rangers strike first and score the first run of the game.

Come the bottom of the first inning, their lead didn’t last long! In true Blue Jays style, Carrera leads off the inning with a single right down the middle, and just like that the tying run is on first base! After Donaldson strikes out, Eddie brings out the Edwing with a 2-run home run! One batter later, Russel Martin comes up to bat with an 0-11 post season start. What better then a solo home run to start up Martin’s hitting streak? After the first inning, our Blue Jays lead 3-1!

To start off the top of the 3rd inning, Sanchez gives up a solo homer to inch the Rangers closer by trailing 3-2. Although, he seems to be getting more control by ending the inning with a strikeout.

Carrera starts off the bottom of the third with a leadoff single, and with a bad throw from Lucroy, Carrera steals second base! Josh Donaldson gets a great hit in fair territory and gets a ground rule double to score Carrera! After the ground rule double, Jeff Banister – the Texas Rangers Manager – takes out Lewis and brings in Tony Bornette from the bullpen to finish off the inning. Edwin hits a longgggg single and scores Donaldson! After Martin grounds out into a fielders choice and the inning ends, we lead the Rangers 5-2!

Carlos Beltran gets a leadoff walk and all of a sudden we have one on with nobody out for Odor. Two pitches later he hits a 2-run homer and just like that it’s a one run game, heading to the bottom of the fourth.

Come the top of the fifth, Sanchez strikes out all three batters of that inning (Mazara, Gomez and Desmond).

But the top of the 6th is not a nice inning for our Blue Jays! With two quick outs from Sanchez, he seems to lose control of his ball yet again. Odor walks and Lucroy singles. Gibby takes the ball out of Sanchez and into Biagini’s hands to end the inning. Although Sanchez was out, the two base runners are his responsibility. A deep single from Moreland (and a JUST missed catch from Kevin Superman Pillar) gives the Rangers the lead for the first time ever this series. Finally we get out of the inning but we trail 6-5.

Heading to the top of the 6th, trailing 6-5 and we know something has to happen! Tulowitzki hits a deep single into LF and just like that, the tying run is on first base. Banister decided to take out the current pitcher and bring Diekman into the game. The next batter he faces is Melvin Upton Jr. who has been quite good during the post season! To justify my point, Upton shoots a double to RF, and Tulo stops at third base. Pillar walks with 2 on one out (this is because there was no one on first base, and if there was they could have gotten a double play to end the inning, as there was already one out) for Darwin Barney. Barney pops up right next to third base, not advancing any runners. On the next pitch, there is a passed ball issued and TULO SCORES! We are tied! Carrera then hits a deep fly ball to RF, but sadly Mazara catches it to end the inning.

Let’s ZOOM to the top of the 10th inning, that’s right folks, we are in extra innings!! Donaldson starts off the inning with a leadoff double, and the fans get hyped up! The Rangers intentionally walk Encarnacion (which they must have learned from the Orioles mistake). On a 3-2 count Bautista strikes out, quite the mood killer! Now comes the most exciting play of the series. Martin hits a ground ball to shortstop, setting up what looks like a double play. They get the first (and only) out at second base, and with the ball in his hand Odor throws to first and Moreland NEVER CATCHES THE BALL!! And what does the MVP to about it, well he runs to home… AND HE SCORES!! WE WIN THE GAME!! As I was celebrating, half screaming half crying with my aunt, Banister reviews the play at second to look for any interference. If the call was overturned and interference was called, it would have been an automatic double play and we would’ve been headed to the 11th inning. Thank goodness the call was upheld, the runner scored and WE OFFICIALLY SWEPT THE TEXAS RANGERS!!!

What a series, eh?!

If you want to recap on the entire series, read my ALDS Game One recap and Game Two recap!

Everyone on twitter (was of course) going nuts! Here are some of my favourites:

And now we are headed to the ALCS! The Indians completed the sweep of the Red Sox last night, and we will be headed to Cleveland on Thursday, to start the series on Friday. Click here for the ALCS schedule.

The Blue Jays are the favourites to win the ALCS because of all of the momentum that we have had so far in October! We have seven out of the nine frequent starters that have at least one home run in the playoffs this year. Some even have 3 in the past 4 playoff games… *cough* EDWIN *cough*!

I am very excited for the ALCS to begin, remember we only have four more wins until the World Series!

Alyssa Cohen

Knock, Knock, Who’s there? 0-2 Rangers! – ALDS Game 2 Recap 2016

About one week ago, Osuna balked in the tying run at Fenway Park with the Blue Jays season on the line. Now they’re 1 win away from the ALCS. What a difference a week can make.

On October 7, 2016 the Blue Jays played what hopefully will be their final game in Texas. And although I was at school for it’s entirety, I was able to miss my afternoon classes (with teacher permission… I’m not a rebel!) and watch the 2nd-6th innings, what I think were the best innings of the game! Here’s a look at my school during “Blue Jays Day”! (FYI: I edited out some school posters and info for safety purposes.)

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This was only a very small fraction over the 1000+ students that attend my high school, but it was enough to seem like we were in the Rogers Centre!

While I was eating lunch, the cafeteria erupted in a “Lets go TU-LO!” chant, even though the game was only going to start in about an hour.

When the game came on, I had to complete an assignment in my Gym class, and then our teacher let us watch the game.

Although I couldn’t watch the entire game live, I am glad to say I was able to re-watch the entire game, and now comes the recap! (It will be less detailed though, as I forgot to take notes as I was watching… silly me.)

In the second inning, TULO hit a 2-run home run off of Yu Darvish to push the Blue Jays on the scoreboard first.

With a 2-1 lead in the top of the 5th, Kevin Pillar hits a home run into left field and the Jays now lead by two runs.”I feel like I’ve gotten good pitches to hit all series,” Pillar said. “I haven’t been able to get any hits. I just stayed aggressive. I was also in a good count too. I felt like I was going to go get a fastball and put a good swing on it.” But that wasn’t the only home run they got that inning!

Two batters later, Ezequiel Carrera hits another solo shot and it’s 4-1 Blue Jays! During this time while I was watching, EVERYONE thought that the Rangers right fielder had caught the ball and before we knew it was a homer everybody said “aww.”, as in we were sad Carrera didn’t hit the home run. But, as we saw him running the bases everybody left and cheered! It was quite a funny moment.

And with two out, who better then Edwin Encarnacion to be up at bat?! Of course, he does his thing and blasts yet another solo home run and it’s 5-1 Blue Jays!! Now, when is the last time a starting pitcher has allowed 3 home runs in the same inning during the post season? Well, non other then Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox, who just happened to do it the previous day before this game! What a coincidence!

5-1 lead heading into the 8th, a little shakiness comes from Francisco Liriano and Roberto Osuna, Osuna’s first outing since the Wild Card game. Before Osuna, Liriano let two guys on base. Now two on, one out for Carlos Gomez. Gomez shoots the ball straight for Liriano’s head, and drives in a run. The exit velocity of the pitch was approximately 102mph. After the game, Liriano was taken to hospital and has a mild concussion. He will be out for the rest of this series, and will be day-to-day during the ALCS and WS. Now 5-2 Jays, Osuna gives up a run, and it’s 5-3 Jays. He strikes out the final batter to end the 8th inning, a spooky one at that.

Come the top of the ninth, no score change and Osuna gives up a leadoff hit. That hit then progresses a steal and we have a runner in scoring position with 1 out. Osuna gets the last batter to fly out, and we end the nail biter game!

Injuries so far this postseason: Benoit, Liriano, (potentially) Travis.

The Texas Rangers are now 4 for 36 with RISP against Toronto, and have now lost 5 consecutive Postseason games (continuing on from last season). We hope to make it 6 tomorrow!

JA Happ pitched an okay game, but he definitely didn’t look as sharp as he has been in previous starts. He had at least two runners on base every inning from the start of the 2nd inning, until the 6th. Yu Darvish was the worse of the two, giving up 5er in 5 innings pitched.

Now we look forward to Sunday, game 3 of the ALDS. Instead of last season where our hearts skipped a beat every time a pitch was thrown, we can look forward to an advancing series win.

It’s time to “Sanchize” Toronto.

Alyssa Cohen

Safe to Say, the Blue Jays Threw the First Punch in this Series – ALDS Game 1 Recap 2016

Texas fans started off the game booing Bautista, and they ended the game booing their own team.

The wild-card game was quite the heart attack, and this game was the exact opposite. If anything, it was an adrenaline rush! From the first pitch I was on my feet, and at one point I was jumping up and down (to be honest, more then one point).

On October 6, 2016, our Toronto Blue Jays started the first game of a five game series against the Texas Rangers. But this isn’t just any other series, this is the American League Division Series. Sound familiar?

The game started off pretty normal, which was surprising. No bench brawls (even throughout the entire game), no punches (thank goodness), and no beer throwing (speaking of beer throwing, read this). Although, throughout the first 3 innings, there were 3 plays that were challenged. All of the calls were upheld and remained the same call that was originally called on the field. All postseason MLB clubs are restricted to two play reviews per series, and since non of the calls were upheld, that does not affect the two reviews they own.

In the third inning, Carrera got on base with one out. And with two out, and one on, Donaldson hits a double to score Carrera… and it’s 1-0 Blue Jays! The Rangers challenged the play at second, as Donaldson stretched his single into a double, but the call was upheld and he remained at second (but not for very long!). Cole Hamels – Rangers starting pitcher – boggled the ball as it was hit near him, and this resulted in an infield single for Edwin Encarnacion. Joey Bats does his job and scores the MVP, runners on first and second, still two out for Russel Martin. Martin walks on a 3-1 count to load the bases for Tulo! Tulo absolutely BLASTS a shot into right field and clears the bases, the first one ever in BlueJays postseason franchise history! The third inning ended up being about 30 minutes long, and Hamels had thrown 42 pitches in just that inning. Blue Jays up 5-0 in the third!

Marco Estrada had a 12 pitch bottom of the third, and was on FIRE!!

Melvin Upton Jr. was the leadoff hitter in the top of the 4th inning for the Blue Jays. Upton sent a homer deep to left field, extending the lead to 6-0! After Carrera, Travis comes up to bat with one out. Playing shortstop, Elvis Andrus makes an odd throw to first baseman Moreland and Devon Travis ends up with a one out infield single. As Josh Donaldson is in the batters box, Lucroy (Rangers starting catcher) has a passed ball go in-between him, and Travis steals second base… scoring position for the MVP! Donaldson rips a single to right field and scored Travis, 7-0 for the good guys! After this happened, Hamels left the ball game with 5 er.

In the bottom of the fourth, Tulo made a spectacular throw to get the final out of the inning.

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Zooming into the top of the 9th inning, Donaldson and Edwin single back to back, and who other then Jose Bautista to score them… with yet ANOTHER THREE RUN HOME RUN!!!

In the bottom of the ninth, Estrada gives up his first and only run of the night, and Gibby replaces him with Teppera. Marco pitched a gem of a ballgame and you couldn’t have asked for anything more. “When you’re on the road, that’s something you want to do is quiet the fans, and I think we did a pretty good job,” Estrada said. “Obviously, we don’t want any momentum on their side, and scoring seven runs by the fourth — that’s going to keep a lot of people quiet.” He finished with 8.1ip, 4h, 1r, 0BB, 6k’s.

“In reality, we were due to break out,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “I thought we worked Cole really tough, because he’s one of the elite pitchers in the game. That third inning, we made him work and got a couple of big, big hits. … But that’s one thing we do even when we’re struggling with at-bats — we make starters work.”

Jose Bautista sure was a happy camper after today’s game. “I feel happy that we won the ballgame,” Bautista said. “Coming off having to claw our way back into the playoffs and the Wild Card Game and putting up a lot of runs early feels good, especially when you’re backing a start like Marco had today.”

This game is what I consider to be a glimpse into the future of the postseason for the Blue Jays. There are many differences from this ball club to the 2015 one, but it’s safe to say we should be very confident with this team. Last year, after the Jays clinched, we didn’t play anymore meaningful regular season games. This season however, we didn’t know our fate until the very last pitch of game 162. We are coming into the postseason with a bang, and I sure think it’ll stay with us until the very last out of the World Series.

Alyssa Cohen

The Battle of The Birds was Won by the Parrot – AL Wild Card Recap 2016

All this franchise does is hit crazy 3-run homers.

Number one, the Joe Carter walk-off homer that won the BlueJays their second World Series title in 1993. Number two, the Jose “Bat Flip” Bautista go-ahead homerun that helped the BlueJays win the wildest American League Division Series Game 5 baseball has ever seen in 2015. If you asked me just yesterday what the third one was, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. That’s because it happened last night.

On October 4, 2016 our stomachs were full of butterflies as the Canadian flag was unrolled onto the Rogers Centre baseball field. About 50,000 people were in attendance to witness the do or die American League Wild Card game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. Some people calling it “The Battle of The Birds”.

Marcus Stroman was sharp throughout all six innings that he pitched. His final stats were 4H 2ER 0BB and 6Ks. He looked very confident when facing all of the Orioles bats, and he showed us that Height Doesn’t Measure Heart always.

The first inning was nothing special, both pitchers looked great and everyone seemed to be on the top of the focus scale.

Jose Bautista started off the Postseason as we knew he would… with a solo homer! Sadly, there was no bat flip, I assume he’s saving that for Texas! With Bautista’s homer, the Jays were on the board first, 1-0 through the second inning. “Just looking for a fastball in the zone,” Bautista said. “I was surprised he challenged me with a second fastball, but I was leading off the inning, so I didn’t expect anything else. It’s just a lot of time you get ready for those pitches and they end up not being there. That one was, and I didn’t miss it, so I was happy to contribute.”

In the top of the fourth inning, Chris Davis shot a go-ahead homerun, and pushed the Orioles ahead of our Blue Jays 2-1. Little did we know, those two runs would be the only runs the Orioles scored in the intense wild card game.

Down 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Blue Jays scratched and clawed out a run while knocking Tillman out of the game. Michael Saunders blooped a one-out double and Pillar followed that with a double of his own on a ball that was misplayed by right fielder Michael Bourn, causing Saunders to remain at third. Carrera brought Saunders home, which resulted in a tie game. Buck Showalter – Orioles Manager – turned to Michael Givens, and with one pitch Devon Travis grounded into an inning ending double play.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman came away with a no-decision after he was removed from the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out four.

Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Jays had two on (thanks to a Josh Donaldson lead off double, and an intentional walk to Edwin Encarnacion), one out and with Travis up at bat, he grounded into his second inning ending double play of the game. Off to extra innings we went!

Pitching in relief, Brett Cecil and Joe Biagini (7th inning), Jason Grilli (8th inning), Roberto Osuna (1.1 innings, 9th and 10th), and Fransisco Liriano (1.2 innings, 10th and 11th). They were all spectacular, and didn’t allow one run the entire night.

Just as the Blue Jays fans were getting restless, the Blue Jays stepped it up in the 10th. With one out, Showalter made a controversial decision and decided to go with starter Ubaldo Jimenez to finish the 11th inning, instead of going with his CY Young candidate, Zach Britton. Here’s what Britton had to say about that. “It’s frustrating,” Britton said. “You watch the guys battle and you want to go in there and do the same. You want to give your offence a chance to win, especially knowing that if we don’t win, there’s no tomorrow. Like I said, it was tough being down there and having to watch it and not being able to get into the game.” Ultimately, it cost the Orioles the game.

On the second pitch of the at bat, Travis singled into left field. One on for the MVP! Donaldson continued the rally and singled, advancing Travis to third base with the help of third base coach Luis Rivera. On the very next pitch, Edwin Encarnacion blasted a 3-run walk-off bomb and our Toronto Blue Jays won the game 5-2 through 11 innings!

This was the 10th extra-inning winner-take-all postseason game, and the home team has won all but one of those. It was also the first walk-off homer in a winner-take-all game since the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 6-5, in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series.

“I was looking for a fastball, and I was trying to put a barrel on it,” Encarnacion said after the game. “A little bit in front of it because the infield was playing in, and I actually got it. … I was really happy, mostly because it was an extra-inning game. It was just a very special moment for us.”

After the game, the Blue Jays continued with the celebratory champagne soaks!

The Orioles players were interviewed first, and here is what starting catcher Matt Wieters had to say.

“Any way your season ends, if it’s not with a World Series ring on the end of it, it’s going to hurt,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “It was a tough game. Both teams battled, it was a hard-fought game that really could have gone any way. They were just able to have the last swing and Edwin put a good swing on it.”

Buck Showalter was also bombarded with questions about the head-scratching decision about Britton. “He was fine,” Showalter stated. “I considered a lot of things during the course of the game, but our guys did a good job getting us to that point. We just couldn’t finish it off. Yeah, he was available.”

The reaction on Twitter was priceless, and most tweeters (including myself) are still in shock about how the 11th inning went down.

Now, where do our Blue Jays stand?

That’s right! We are going back to Arlington to face our favourite (NOT) the Texas Rangers for another ALDS. Check out the newest commercial!

How do you think our Blue Jays will do in the ALDS? I’m about 99.9% sure we will beat them good!

And now I will leave you with this final thought…

Alyssa Cohen