Baseball is full of superstitions. Some are repeating – Tim Lincecum wore the same cap for the first five seasons of his major league career, in which he appeared on four all-star teams and won back-to-back Cy Young awards. Some are based on the beginning – Ken Griffey, Jr. once bought a Mercedes-Benz, but sold it when he realized he hadn’t collected a hit since he had purchased the car. It may not actually have anything to do with the rest of the regular season, but the Blue Jays, losing their two games of the season, sure hope superstitions don’t reign true this year.
Both pitchers began the game strong. Neither pitcher allowed a hit in the first two innings, with the only base runner coming on a throwing error by Josh Donaldson. Both pitchers faced trouble in their respective third innings. After a concerning spring in which he had a 7.41 ERA and struggled with his changeup, Dylan Bundy allowed three consecutive one-out hits (the first from Justin Smoak, mind you) to give the game its first run.
The lead didn’t last long, however. In the bottom half of the inning, Happ gave up a looping single to Jonathan Schoop, who was soon cashed in on an Adam Jones home run that cleared the left field wall by a handful of feet. Happ had faced Jones 33 times in his career, the fourth most of any player in major league baseball against Happ. Manny Machado, up next, hammered a ball to deep centre field, but defensive wizard Kevin Pillar did what he does best and robbed the potential homer.
Again, in the fourth, Happ faced trouble. With no one on base, he left a ball down in the zone to Chris Davis, who launched it into the Orioles bullpen in left-centre field to make it 3-1 Baltimore. Against Davis, the key to getting him out is to keep the ball up in the zone. In the bottom third of the zone, Davis has an average .340 batting average, while a .249 batting average in the top third of the zone. The same general rule applies to his average slugging percentage.
Both Happ and Bundy settled down late in the game. Earlier, Happ was having trouble elevating his four-seam fastball, but his two-seamer helped get him through the later innings. In the bottom of the sixth, with Russell Martin catching, Mark Trumbo fouled a ball back that hit Martin flush on the right, non-catching hand. After a two minute delay, play resumed. Prior to his at bat in the next inning, Martin, on the on deck circle, could be seen applying some form of support to his right wrist and fingers before flying out with his first swing.
J.A. Happ was lifted in the bottom of the eighth for Ryan Tepera. Despite taking the loss, Happ’s night was generally strong. Through seven innings, Happ faced 26 total batters and threw 89 pitches, 65 of which were strikes. He gave up five hits and three earned runs, with all the scoring coming on two home runs. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out nine.
The Blue Jays squandered their chance to tie the game in the top of the eighth. Smoak, collecting his second hit, doubled into the left field corner and was lifted for pinch runner Ezequiel Carrera, who, despite rolling over his ankle in Monday’s game, appeared healthy. Carrera got as far as third on a wild pitch, but the next three batters failed to get on base to end Toronto’s chance at scoring.
Again in the ninth, Toronto put pressure on against the best reliever in the game, Zach Britton. They loaded the bases with one out, but, with the game on the line, former Oriole Steve Pearce grounded into a double play to end the game. In four career plate appearances against Britton, Pearce has collected two hits, one walk and two RBIs.
Ahhh, superstitions. Screw them.