We’ve played them enough now that I don’t have to make any 1992 references. And we’ve often been better than they are: from 2017 to 2020, we played 15 games against them, and we went 10-5. This year, though, we’ve been headed back towards .500 in a hurry, as we’re 0-4.
Snit tried to squeeze just a bit too much from his starter. Bryse Wilson is built like a bulldog, but he pitches like a hothouse flower. I’m being unfair to Bryse, who had a perfectly good day at the office, giving up just two runs in six innings. But his first five innings may have been his best of the year, as he got four strikeouts while giving up no walks and just four singles, facing just two batters over the minimum. If he could do this every time out, he’d be great.
But if his performance from the first through the fifth was a wonderfully welcome surprise, his performance in the sixth inning was sadly right up to his usual standard. It wasn’t a pitch count thing: he needed just 64 pitches to get through the fifth. But right out of the gate in the sixth, he just didn’t have the feel or the command he had had in the earlier innings, and he was not going to be able to carve up the heart of the order a third time.
After inducing a groundout from the pitcher, he threw two quick balls to leadoff hitter Marcus Semien, who singled. After groundout by Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero strode to the plate, and he thumped an opp0site-field homer, and the next batter, Teoscar Hernandez, hit a soft single, before the free-swinging Randal Grichuk finally bailed Wilson out of the inning.
Vladito’s thump cut a 3-0 lead into a 3-2 lead. But Tyler Matzek twirled a clean seventh, and the Braves would have a win if Minter and Smith could just get six outs. Nope.
I’ve been worried about Everyday A.J. for a while. He came out and immediately had trouble finding the zone, with the troublesome top of the order up once more.
Minter gave up a double to the leadoff man, then induced a tapper to the mound from Marcus Semien. But after looking the runner back to second, he double-clutched and decided to try to get the out at second rather than taking a sure out at first. Result: two men on, no outs. A sharp single followed, and the Jays moved station to station, with Vladito coming to the plate once more. He got a single, the Jays moved up a single base, and it was a tie game with the bases juiced and no outs.
Snitker, apparently feeling he had no better options, went to Jacob Webb.
Jacob Webb immediately induced the second soft infield tapper of the inning, but for the second time in a week, he failed to cover his base, and Freddie had nowhere to toss the ball for an out — once again, the Jays took a free base and a run, only this time the box score called it a single rather than a fielder’s choice.
Webb gave up one more Grybo after that, sandwiching a strikeout and two inning-ending flyouts around a bases-loaded walk to bring in the fifth run. It was 5-3 in the eighth, and Pablo Sandoval can’t hit a two-run pinch homer every game.
Ozuna and Acuna both homered, and Freddie went 1-3 with a walk. In the first four spots, Acuna, Freeman, Ozuna, and Albies all reached safely, suggesting that the offensive deep freeze of the latter three may finally be thawing. Three runs ain’t much, but if they’re all hitting, more will come.