Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak hit an RBI triple in the second inning of Friday night’s game against the Red Sox, chipping into what was a five-run deficit. The 28-year-old, a veteran of six seasons in the majors, hadn’t hit a triple in his career spanning 2,316 plate appearances entering the game. That was a record until it was snapped.
As our own Matthew Pouliot noted on Twitter, Diamondbacks catcher Welington Castillo now has the most plate appearances without a triple.
On the triple, Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts slammed face-first into the center field wall at Fenway Park. He stayed in the game initially but exited after two innings with a sprained lower back, per ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes.
Dayan Viciedo has been out of work since being released by the White Sox in February and the Blue Jays in March, but Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports that the 26-year-old outfielder has signed a minor-league deal with the A’s.
Viciedo has 25-homer power, but his plate discipline and defense are awful and his overall production has been mediocre at best with a .254 batting average and .722 OPS in 483 career games.
He has good career numbers versus left-handed pitching, so if Viciedo puts together a good stretch at Triple-A the A’s could find a role for him as a platoon player.
Blue Jays right-hander Scott Copeland was terrific in his first major league start Wednesday afternoon against the Marlins, firing seven innings of one-run ball in a 7-2 win at Rogers Centre in Toronto. The 27-year-old former 21st-round pick walked none, whiffed four, and scattered six hits over his seven frames. Justin Smoak, Josh Donaldson, and Russell Martin each went 2-for-4 and combined for five RBI.
It’s the eighth straight victory for the Jays, who are now just three games back of the first-place Yankees in the American League East standings. Copeland was sent to Triple-A Buffalo after the game, but he should get another shot soon.
Wednesday’s matinee assignment was only meant to be a spot start for Copeland.
Your box scores and AP recaps from Wednesday …
Phillies 2, Reds 5
Marlins 2, Blue Jays 7
Nationals 5, Yankees 4 (11 innings)
Cardinals 4, Rockies 2
Red Sox 2, Orioles 5
Brewers 0, Pirates 2
Padres 1, Braves 4
Angels 2, Rays 4
Giants 8, Mets 5
Mariners 9, Indians 3
Cubs 12, Tigers 3
Royals 7, Twins 2
Astros 1, White Sox 4
Rangers 4, Athletics 5
Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 6
It’s one of those things that simply doesn’t seem possible these days: the Blue Jays, despite having now won eight straight games, don’t have a single save since May 4.
After beating the Marlins 7-2 on Wednesday, the Jays are 18-16 since closer Brett Cecil (or anyone else on the team) last picked up a save. 14 of those 16 losses have included saves by the opposition. But none of the 18 wins. Let’s look at the scores of those wins.
May 6: 5-1
May 8: 7-0
May 9: 7-1
May 12: 10-2
May 18: 10-6
May 21: 8-4
May 24: 8-2
May 25: 6-0
May 26: 10-9 (walkoff victory)
May 29: 6-4
June 2: 7-3
June 3: 8-0
June 4: 6-2
June 6: 7-2
June 7: 7-6 (walkoff victory)
June 8: 11-3
June 9: 4-3 (walkoff victory)
June 10: 7-2
14 of the 18 wins came by four or more runs, with three of the remaining four being decided in the Jays’ final at-bat. The only real chance for a save was on the May 29 game against the Twins, when the Jays scored twice in the top of the ninth to take a 6-4 lead. Under normal circumstances, that would have been Cecil time. Manager John Gibbons, though, decided to let Mark Buehrle finish it, which he did with a flawless final frame.
It rates as quite the oddity. I know of no way to find out the last team to go 18 wins without a save, but I’m guessing it’s been a long while. Last year, AL teams earned saves in 619 of 1,228 victories, so just over half of the time. The Jays had 45 saves in 83 victories then. If we just go with 50 percent of wins as being frequency of saves, then it’s a 1/524,288 chance that a team would go 18 straight wins without one.
With the winning streak, the Jays are 31-30 for the season. Because of the abundance of lopsided wins and close losses, they have the AL’s best run differential, having scored 325 runs and allowed 266.