I don’t think there will be many Blue Jays fans sad to see the month of August go. To say that August was rough for the Blue Jays would be a pretty big understatement.
August was by far the worst month for the Blue Jays this season. On the field any way. Toronto won only nine games in the month while losing 20. What made the losing even more unbearable was that is came in lengthy streaks. The Jays started the month losing three in a row. Then in the middle of the month they dropped five straight. It got worse, as they lost seven in a row after getting beat up by Texas, Detroit and Baltimore.
Not as many Blue Jays hit the DL in August, but that’s because so many guys were already camped out there. August was supposed to see the return of Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie, but instead there was more bad news for both players. Bautista did return for one game before his wrist flared up again forcing him back on the DL. This time is was a permanent stay after the wrist required season-ending surgery. It looked like Lawrie was slowly nearing a return too before he aggravated his oblique strain.
I could go on with some more August heart ache but that’s enough negativity. Let’s talked about what went right for the Jays in August. There had to be at least a few things worth cheering right? Well, here’s 10 of them in chronological order.
August 3 – Jeff Mathis’ ninth inning home run
On August 3 the Blue Jays faced Oakland in the second game of a four-game series. The Athletics jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning and made it 2-0 on a Jonny Gomes solo home run in the third. Toronto got on the board in the fourth on a sac fly from Rajai Davis to cut the lead in half.
Oakland tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a solo homer from Chris Carter and then made it 4-1 thanks to a Josh Reddick sac fly an inning later. The Jays failed to post another run and entered the ninth inning still down 4-1. Things didn’t look very promising after Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar both stuck out against Ryan Cook to start the inning. With two out David Cooper singled and Davis also singled moving pinch runner Moises Sierra to second. Jeff Mathis stepped up to the plate and quickly got down 0-2 to Cook. He worked the count taking three consecutive balls before launching a 3-2 pitch over the left-center wall to tie the game.
The Jays would eventually lose the game in the 15th inning but the dramatic home run was just what the Jays and fans needed after what was an uninspiring game up to that point.
August 4 – Adeiny Hechavarria debuts and David Cooper delivers
The Blue Jays August 4 game against Oakland was memorable for two reasons. First, it saw the Major League debut of shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. The often hyped Jays prospect actually made his debut with Toronto at third base in place of the injured Brett Lawrie. It was Hechavarria’s first time ever playing third, but you wouldn’t know it with his quick hands and strong arm making it look easy. In his first game Hechavarria would go 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
The game itself was a low-scoring affair. Ricky Romero turned in one his better starts of the season going seven innings and allowing one run on three hits with five strikeouts. The only run the A’s scored off him came on a Derek Norris double scoring Brandon Inge in the second inning.
As usual this season Toronto failed to give Romero any run support. Despite Oakland starter A.J. Griffin leaving the game due to injury in the second inning the Jays couldn’t crack the A’s bullpen. Heading into the ninth inning Toronto trailed 1-0. David Cooper fixed that.
After Edwin Encarnacion popped out to start the inning Cooper stepped in to face Oak’and closer Ryan Cook. One night after giving up a game-tying home run to Jeff Mathis Cook did it again, as Cooper took him deep for a game-tying solo blast. The game would go into extra innings and Toronto scored a pair of runs in the 11th inning. Darren Oliver got the A’s in order in the bottom of the inning to close out a 3-1 Blue Jays win.
August 7 – Chad Jenkins debuts
On August 7 the Blue Jays faced the Tampa Bay Rays and lost 4-1. Toronto collected only three hits in the game with their lone run coming on a solo home run by Colby Rasmus. The only real positive from the game was the Major League debut for Chad Jenkins.
Starter J.A. Happ had a lackluster outing for Toronto, going 4 1-3 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits. He turned the game over to Brandon Lyon in the fifth who retired both batters he faced. In the sixth Jenkins came on to make his debut. In his first inning of work Jenkins got the Rays in order, including striking out Ryan Roberts.
In the seventh Elliot Johnson led off with a single off Jenkins but that didn’t phase the rookie. After a bunt groundout by Desmond Jennings advanced Johnson, Jenkins retired B.J. Upton on a fly ball to right field and struck out Ben Zobrist looking.
Jenkins returned to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and again surrendered a lead-off single, this time to Evan Longoria. He was able to bare down again retiring the next three batters he faced, getting Carlos Pena to line out to right, Roberts to ground out to short, taking care of the lead runner at second and Sean Rodriguez ended the inning with a fly out to center.
Jenkins final line in his debut was three innings pitched, no runs on two hits with a pair of strikeouts.
August 12 – AAA Blue Jays defeat Yankees
On August 12 the Blue Jays faced the Yankees at Rogers Center with this lineup…
Due to injuries the only player in the starting lineup that also started on opening day was Edwin Encarnacion. In fact, six of the players in the starting lineup were in AAA on opening day. Not many people expected the Jays to pick up a win that day.
Toronto actually got on the board first. Edwin Encarnacion ripped a double off Phil Hughes in his first at bat and scored on a single by David Cooper. The Blue Jays held that lead until the fourth inning when they added to it. Big time.
Moises Sierra led off the inning with a single and scored all the way from first base on a Jeff Mathis double. After an Anthony Gose walk and a Adeiny Hechavarria strikeout Rajai Davis plated both Mathis and Gose with a double. The barrage continued with a Mike McCoy RBI single and Encarnacion blasted a two-run home run in his second at bat of the inning. When the dust settled the Jays were ahead 7-0.
The Yankees got to Jays starter J.A. Happ with a single run in the sixth, but Toronto got that back and more in the bottom of the inning on a base loaded double by Davis that scored three more runs. Toronto held a comfortable 10-1 lead heading into the sixth.
The Yankees gave the Jays a scare with two runs in the sixth and three more runs in the seventh to cut the lead to three, but that was all they would get in a 10-7 Blue Jays win.
Davis had a career-day in the win with five RBI and Encarnacion was 3-4 with a home run two RBI and two runs scored.
August 12 – Rajai Davis scales the wall
One thing we left out from the AAA Jays win was Rajai Davis’ incredible catch of the year. Thanks to the Sky Dome’s 10 feet walls it supposed to be nearly impossible to steal a home run. Davis proved otherwise.
August 13 – Steve Delabar strikes everyone out
On August 13 the Blue Jays defeated the Chicago White 3-2 in a game with two main highlights. First was Moises Sierra’s first career home run against Jake Peavy. Second was Steve Delbar owning everyone.
In that game the Blue Jays took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning before Casey Janssen blew his second save of the season. Adam Dunn, who I’m told doesn’t really like baseball, led off the ninth with a game-tying solo home run. Janssen got out of the inning without allowing another run and the Jays failed to score in the bottom of the ninth sending the game to extra innings.
Delabar entered the game to start the tenth inning. His first victim was Dayan Viciedo who he struck out swinging on three pitches. Tyler Flowers went down next and gave Delabar more of a fight in a six-pitch at bat. Flowers struck out swinging, but the ball got away from Jeff Mathis allowing Flowers to reach first. That didn’t phase Delabar who quickly struck out Gordon Beckham swinging, again on three pitches. Alejandro De Aza helped Delabar enter the Blue Jays record book as he went down swinging as well, notching his fourth K of the inning, the first Blue Jay ever to do so.
Delabar returned to the mound in the 11th and continued to throw smoke. The first batter he faced was Kevin Youokilis, who he of course struck out swinging. Dunn finally ended the strikeout streak with a groundout, but Delbar picked right back up where he left off by catching Alex Rios looking. In his two innings Delabar faced seven batters and struck out six of them. He also picked up the win after Toronto scored the game-winning run on a David Cooper single in the bottom of the inning.
August 17 – J.A. Happ does his best Delabar impression
On August 17 the Blue Jays faced the Texas Rangers with J.A. Happ on the mound. Happ was coming off his first win as a Blue Jay against the Yankees. Happ began the game strong getting the Rangers in order which included striking out Ian Kinsler to start the game.
In the second inning Happ struck out the side sending down Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and David Murphy all swinging. In the third Happ’s barrage continued as he struck out the side again, sitting down Geovany Soto and Chris Gentry looking and Mike Olt swinging. The six strikeouts in a row tied a Blue Jays record set by Ted Lilly in 2004 and matched by Marc Rzepczynski in 2010.
Happ would end up pitching six innings and picking up the victory in a 3-2 Toronto victory. He allowed one run on only two hits while striking out eight.
Happ continued the strong showing in his next outing against the Tigers, receiving a no-decision after allowing one run on four hits with seven strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings. In his final start of the month against the Yankees Happ outdueled CC Sabathia to help lead the Jays to an 8-5 win. Despite battling what appeared to some sort of leg discomfort Happ went five innings, allowing four runs while striking out six.
August 25 – Brandon Morrow returns
After more than two months on the disabled list Brandon Morrow finally returned to the mound on August 25 against the Baltimore Orioles.
Morrow showed no ill effects from the oblique injury that sidelined him since June. His command wasn’t always there but his fastball still was and he punched out seven Orioles over 4 2-3 inning of work. Unfortunately the Blue Jays defense let Morrow down at a key point. In the third inning with two on and one out Morrow induced a ground ball from Adam Jones to shortstop Yunel Escobar. What could have been a double play instead was a error as Escobar botched it, allowing a run to score. The Orioles added another run on a sac fly which tied the game 2-2.
The Orioles got to Morrow again in the fifth inning and Jones was part of it again, driving in both runs on a single to left. Morrow threw 88 pitches in his return, 56 for strikes. He may not have been as dominant in his first start back as he was before he went on the DL, but Morrow should give the Jays and fans plenty to look forward to in the final month of the season.
August 27 – Colby Rasmus goes deep
August was an awful month for Colby Rasmus. He dealt with a nagging groin injury on and off and hopefully that was the major reason for his struggles at the plate. In August Rasmus hit only .167 with a .222 OBP and a .508 OPS. He was a strikeout machine with 33 strikeouts in 22 games and he had only five RBI. Three of those RBI came on one swing on August 27.
On that day the Blue Jays faced the Yankees and after a back-and-forth game that included home runs by Yorvit Torrealba and Adam Lind the Jays entered the ninth inning trailing 6-4. Torrealba started the ninth with a strikeout versus Yankees closer Rafael Soriano. Moises Sierra then reached on a single to center field followed by a pop out by Adeiny Hechavarria and a single to left from Rajai Davis. With Sierra at third and Davis at first Rasmus stepped in with two out. Rasmus took the second pitch he saw and crushed it into the second deck in right field putting the Jays up 7-6.
Derek Jeter would tie the game on a “pop fly” home run in the bottom of the inning, but the Jays would prevail thanks to Derek Lowe. In the 11th inning Torrealba led off the inning with a single and was lifted for a pinch runner, Mike McCoy. Lowe’s pick off attempt sailed into right field which allowed McCoy to advance all the way to third. A Hechavarria groundout later and McCoy scored what turned out to be the winning run in a 8-7 Blue Jays victory.
August 31 – Moises Sierra and Jeff Mathis end the month with a bang
The Blue Jays ended the month of August with a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay thanks to a solid start from Brandon Morrow, Edwin Encarnacion’s 35th home run of the season and a couple strong throws from Rajai Davis and Moises Sierra.
Davis flashed his arm in the second inning. The Rays were threatening with Matt Joyce on second and Jeff Keppinger on first. Ryan Roberts drove a single through the left side which Davis fielded cleaning before delivering a strike to Jeff Mathis at home plate. Joyce, trying to score from second was out by 10 feet.
Flash forward to the ninth inning with the Rays threatening again. Casey Jenssen came in to close out the game with Toronto up 2-1. Keppinger began the inning with a single and he was lifted for pinch runner Elliot Johnson. After Luke Scott flied out to advance Johnson to second Ryan Roberts struck out looking. Carlos Pena pinch hit for Jose Molina and delivered a single to right field. Johnson tried to score from second but Sierra threw a rope to Mathis at the home who successfully blocked the plate and messed up Johnson’s face in the process. End of the game. End of the month. End of this Jays Listed.