Let's begin this recap with something different. We all know that the Toronto Blue Jays have the best offense in baseball; their 538 runs scored going into tonight is an absurd 59 runs more than second place. But they are particularly suited to destroying a certain type of pitcher.
Here's the Blue Jays lineup and their split versus lefties this year:
- Tulowitzki, RH, .375/.403/.583, 150 wRC+
- Donaldson, RH, .329/.387/.646, 180 wRC+
- Bautista, RH, .243/.378/.419, 122 wRC+
- Colabello, RH, .310/.365/.552, 154 wRC+
- Martin, RH, .308/.423/.538, 168 wRC+
- Valencia, RH, .324/.367/.473, 133 wRC+
- Pillar, RH, .267/.316/.367, 88 wRC+
- Navarro, RH, .211/.286/.211, 40 wRC+
- Goins, LH, .225/.256/.400, 72 wRC+
That's eight (8) righties. Of those eight righties, six (6!) of them are hitting at least 22% better than league average against lefties. Of those six righties, four (4!!!!) are hitting at least 50% better than league average against lefties.
Danny Duffy is a left-handed pitcher.
Fireworks were involved.
Though Duffy suffered through a treacherous 6-inning start, Kansas City made the first move against Marco Estrada. With two outs, Estrada hit Lorenzo Cain with a pitch. Eric Hosmer then singled because of course he did--in doing so, Hosmer extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Kendrys Morales followed Hosmer with an easy double that scored both Cain and Hosmer to make it 2-0 Royals.
Unfortunately, that would be the extent of the Royals' offensive performance against Estrada. Estrada would retire 15 consecutive batters until Cain's single in the sixth inning.
In the meantime, the best offensive team in baseball had its way with Duffy. Duffy did not have his best stuff to begin with; he hit Troy Tulowitzki on a 1-2 count and served up a double to Josh Donaldson with a fastball. Duffy wriggled out of the inning allowing only one run, but walked his first batter of the night after that run scored on a Jose Bautista sacrifice fly. The walk would not be his last.
In fact, it would be the first of four in Duffy's six innings of work. Inhibited by a minuscule (and terrible) strike zone, Duffy allowed a score in innings 2, 3, and 4 after the first inning sac fly. In the second inning, Dioner Navarro hit a towering 2-run home run on a lazy fastball. In the third inning, Russell Martin likewise hit a homer on a fastball, this time of the one-run variety. Finally, in the fourth inning, Josh Donaldson swung his bat at a hanging curveball, utterly destroying it and rocketing it out to the upper deck in left field. At this point, it was 5-2 Blue Jays. Duffy would work through a scoreless fifth and sixth inning to aid the bullpen, but the damage was done. Innings eaten is only a positive term if the innings are good.
That was basically the game. Kelvin Herrera and Kris Medlen pitched in relief, and Ryan Levebvre said something to the effect of "Goins was tagged in the 'goins'", so that happened. Ben Zobrist looked good in blue.
But, when you're sending a low-strikeout, high-contact left-handed pitcher against the right-handed heavy, most potent lineup in baseball in their hitter-friendly home park with a randomly inconsistent strike zone...well, let's just say that this loss was not a surprise.
Tomorrow is Cueto Day, ladies and gentlemen. Thankfully, Johnny Cueto is right-handed and will have more of an advantage against Toronto's righty-heavy lineup.