August 2016 was not nearly as breathtaking as August 2015, but this team is definitely going places. They ended August in style.
After a couple of off starts, Marco Estrada returned to form in the series opener. It wasn't easy with the Orioles, one of the most dangerous lineups around.
The most promising thing about the offence, besides Josh Donaldson' fourth homer in two games, was the add on runs late. That's something this team did relentlessly last year and haven't done as much this year.
I knew the Jays were probably going to lose at least one of these games. The Orioles, though I do think they are the third place team, are too good to be kept down forever, especially at home.
The one loss was basically due to an unfortunate homer from Matt Wieters off a normally stellar Jason Grilli.
Tie games at home favour the home team. I was almost relieved it wasn't a walkoff. Or extra innings and a walk off, exhausting the bullpen for the final game. And I suppose Grilli was due.
Aaron Sanchez, after being skipped his last start, picked up right where he left off. He expertly took down some very tough Orioles' hitters: one unearned run over six innings with five hits and two strike outs. He ran into a spot of bother in the fifth, which is likely why he only went one more inning. But that fifth demonstrated how Sanchez has matured this year: the Orioles made him work, but he rallied and snuffed out the charge.
Dioner Navarro, recently re-acquired by the Blue Jays, was the DH and scored from first.
Michael Saunders was thrilled.
Dioner Navarro scoring from first was the thing missing from Michael Saunders' life.
José Bautista led the game off with a first pitch homerun, which is always fun in Baltimore because that fanbase hates him so much. I'm sure he hears all sorts of nonsense in right field from the fans, so sticking it to them likely brings him some satisfaction. It brings me satisfaction, anyway.
Russell Martin capped off his blisteringly hot August by hitting a bomb of his own, a two run shot which turned out to be the difference in the 5-3 win. Russell Martin truly made August his bitch and for that, we salute him.
Speaking of our favourite French Canadian baseball player, Russell Martin used to have a regular column on RDS when he was a Yankee and a Pirate. He don't think he actually wrote it (he's usually pretty busy) but likely had a conversation with an editor (in this case, Nicolas Dupont) and it became a piece.
Anyway, in this piece published on September 5th, 2013, Martin talks about how much he loves September baseball.
(BTW, this is a rough translation. If you throw this in Google Translate, it highlights both that Google Translate is not particularly useful for massive amounts of translating, but also how fun French can be. For instance, Russell says, "...nous comptons bien donner tout ce que nous avons dans le ventre pour finir l’année en beauté." Which translates to "we intend to give everything we have in the belly to finish the year in style.")
Everything we have in the belly.
Martin then goes on to talk about how the Pirates want to win their division because they want nothing to do with the Wild Card game. Which I've been saying about the Blue Jays for the last two seasons. Win the damn division.
Petits bobos. Hee.
For reference, the Pirates played in the Wild Card game in 2013. Martin hit a homer in the bottom of the second inning after the Pirates' fans chanted Johnny Cueto's name and he started bugging out. Kind of like how convinced he was the Jays were stealing his signs in the 2015 ALCS.
The Pirates won the game 6-2, which was started by Francisco Liriano (who went seven innings with 5 strikeouts and one earned run) and closed by Jason Grilli.
The band is back together.