GAMES 128-130, AUG. 24-26: PHILLIES AT JAYS
RESULT: Toronto wins series 2-1
1—Morales stays red-hot to set new Jays record
The slow start to the season that had many calling for Kendrys Morales to be sent packing is a thing of the past, and suddenly the 35-year-old slugger is putting together one of the most productive seasons on the roster.
One night after tying Jose Cruz Jr. for the longest home run streak in franchise history at six games, Morales turned on a Vince Velasquez fastball in the third inning of Sunday’s series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies to set a new record.
Over those seven games, Morales, whose bat from the streak is heading to Cooperstown, has eight home runs to give him a team-leading 21 on the season.
Morales is a home run Monday in Baltimore away from tying the MLB record.
It’s amazing to think that on June 5 he was hitting just .188 with four home runs.
Now, Morales is not only scorching hot and punishing mistakes, but his overall season line is suddenly well above average with a 121 wRC+ and a .264/.343/.484 slash line.
2—Donaldson reaches out about cleared locker
After Josh Donaldson’s locker was cleared out of all his personal belongings over the weekend — items that have been there all summer despite Donaldson rehabbing in Dunedin for the majority of the last two-and-a-half months — the third baseman reached out via the Blue Jays media relations department to set the record straight.
Unrequested, Donaldson relayed this message: “I want to play soon and wanted to make sure I have everything I need to do that. So I asked the staff to pack my locker, then I can go through it.”
Soon, according to TSN baseball insider Steve Phillips, is Monday, as Donaldson is expected to start a long-awaited rehab assignment in Florida.
The Jays have until Friday to trade him and they can’t put him through waivers until he’s played in a minor-league rehab game, so time is ticking.
3—Tulowitzki admits he won’t make it back this year
In the least shocking news of the season, Troy Tulowitzki admitted Sunday that he won’t make it back this year.
As recently as late July when he met up with the club in Oakland, Tulowitzki was holding out hope he’d be able to make an appearance in 2018.
In the end, his feet simply couldn’t take the pounding after surgery to remove bone spurs from both heels in April, and the 33-year-old could never ramp it up to the point where he was comfortable on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s been a tough year to say the least,” Tulowitzki said. “I went to Florida and was out there on those back fields almost every day trying to go. It just didn’t respond the way I needed it to come back and play every day.
“I got in this position because I probably didn’t do it the right way. I got out there and played through some injuries and some pain. That’s part of being a baseball player, too, and I’m glad I did that. It put me in trouble a little bit for this year. Hopefully, next year, I get back out there and do my thing and help us win games.”
Tulowitzki, who’s guaranteed $38 million over the next two seasons, expects to be ready for spring training, adding that he still believes he can play the shortstop position at a high level and has no interest in moving off the position he’s played his entire career.
4—Phillies tee off on Estrada for three home runs
The dream of a contender being interested in Marco Estrada as a depth option prior to Friday’s waiver trade deadline likely died Sunday afternoon when the the veteran right-hander was tagged for three home runs in two-plus innings.
From the very first pitch, Estrada didn’t look right physically, and the Phillies pounced.
Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana homered in the first inning, before Maikel Franco helped end Estrada’s day with a two-run homer in the third inning.
Estrada record just six outs, allowing five earned runs on seven hits to see his ERA jump all the way to 5.18.
After starting the month with a strong, seven-inning start in Seattle on Aug. 4, Estrada has now allowed 17 earned runs over his last 19.1 innings.
Post-game, Estrada admitted his back has been bothering him and he’ll have to look for a solution to that ongoing problem in the off-season.
He says he has no plans to shut things down this year and he’ll continue to pitch through the discomfort if his body allows it.
5—McKinney making a good first impression
Last year, it was Teoscar Hernandez making a late-season mark.
This year, it looks like Billy McKinney, who came over in the J.A. Happ trade, is the outfielder to watch down the stretch.
On Sunday, manager John Gibbons pencilled Billy Baseball’s name into the leadoff spot for the third time in four days, and the 24-year-old responded with two more hits to push his average to a small-sample-size .370.
Not known for his power, McKinney has enjoyed the Rogers Centre launching pad so far, connecting for three home runs over this six-game homestand.
With the Jays wanting to get a good look at McKinney and Hernandez down the stretch, Gibbons talked to Curtis Granderson and told the veteran that his playing time would be cut.
UP NEXT: Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards
MONDAY: RHP Sam Gaviglio (3-6, 4.94) vs. RHP David Hess (2-8, 5.50)
TUESDAY: LHP Thomas Pannone (1-0, 1.59) vs. TBA
WEDNESDAY: LHP Ryan Borucki (3-3, 4.12) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (4-15, 5.00)
VLAD WATCH: Since arriving in Triple-A on July 31, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has hit safely in 16 of 22 games, giving him a .372/.457/.590 slash line with the Buffalo Bisons. On Saturday, Vladdy Jr. went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks — he’s walked 14 times already in Triple-A, compared to only eight strikeouts — to leave him with a
.394 overall batting average this season.