The Blue Jays’ 7-0 victory over the New York Yankees was a complete team effort. The Blue Jays mastered all facets of the game against the Yankees and in some ways, the Blue Jays hearkened back to the the team that won 93 games last year.
Speaking purely in terms of runs scored, it wasn’t their biggest margin of victory, but it was one game where the Blue Jays received equal offensive contributions, good starting pitching, good defense and perfect relief from the bullpen.
For a game that didn’t see its first run scored until the bottom of the 5th inning, this one was really the Blue Jays’ game to win.
Sanchez’ Strong Start
Let’s dive into Aaron Sanchez’ individual start; statistically speaking, not his best game of the season, but 6.2 innings of shutout ball is still impressive. Mind you, it was against the New York Yankees; but a solid start is a solid start.
Sanchez worked himself into a few jams early in the game, but managed to get those clutch strikeouts in key situations. John Gibbons was also wise to go to the bullpen to avoid having Carlos Beltran face Aaron Sanchez for a third time.
If anything, that outing by Aaron Sanchez reiterated that he should be in the starting rotation and not in the bullpen. Until his arbitrary innings limit is reached, Sanchez is far more valuable to the Blue Jays in the rotation.
The Lineup Looked Good
The offense was as good as it’s been this season. The lineup managed to muster seven runs; all without the aid of a home run, which seems near impossible for the Blue Jays. They struck the ball well against Masahiro Tanaka and sent a bunch of screaming line drives into centre field early on.
The sequence of at bats in the bottom of the seventh was especially encouraging for the Blue Jays. It went: single-walk-pop-up-walk-single-double-single. Those six at bats alone allowed the Blue Jays to put a five-spot up on the Yankees and take control of that game.
Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak hit the ball especially hard. I think Saunders was convinced he went yard because he didn’t exactly bolt out of the batter’s box, but the open roof perhaps had an effect on the ball failing to clear the fence.
The Bullpen Didn’t Implode
And lastly, let’s talk about the Blue Jays’ bullpen. It was a blowout win for the Blue Jays, so clearly they weren’t parading their best relievers out there, but the bullpen pitched 2.1 innings of perfect relief.
Jason Grilli began his Blue Jays career by promptly throwing the ball into centre field with an errant pickoff attempt, and then he got Carlos Beltran to line out four pitches later. And wouldn’t you know it … the Blue Jays actually stranded a pair of inherited runners in the process.
Aaron Loup pitched a clean inning, as did Ryan Tepera; who effectively lowered his ERA from 11.75 to 8.10 in one appearance. The Blue Jays’ bullpen truly did they unthinkable; they completely shut out the opposition without using their best arms.
The caveat here of course is the Blue Jays did this against the New York Yankees; statistically speaking, one of the worst offensive teams in baseball this year. The Blue Jays also avoided facing the big three of the Yankees bullpen, save for one inning of Dellin Betances.
Regardless of whether it was the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox or even the Minnesota Twins, wins like these are very encouraging for the Blue Jays. It looks like they really have turned the corner and are beginning to string together much more complete victories.
No longer are the Blue Jays solely relying on late-game heroics from Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders (even though both hitters have been phenomenal in late and close games). We’re beginning to see the Blue Jays string together hits and walks to maximize their offensive output.
For a team that appeared to be in the weeds just a few weeks ago, the Blue Jays are playing like a much different squad as of late. No longer are they simply relying on dominant performances from their starting pitchers; they’re actually making things happen offensively.
In the grand scheme of things, the Blue Jays’ 7-0 win was only one game of 162, but it provided some hope that the lineup is finally getting out of their funk and that their bullpen just might have what it takes not to implode.
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