Bad Times in The Bronx: A walk-off Aaron Judge dinger, terrible umpiring, and more!

Remember when the Blue Jays had an unsustainably good record in one-run games. Well, it seems that’s all coming crashing down at once.

Toronto blew two different leads at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. The first came moments after Yusei Kikuchi’s no-hitter was broken up in the sixth inning and the second came in the bottom of the ninth inning by way of an Aaron Judge moonshot.
A winnable game results in a loss and the Blue Jays have now lost three games in a row and sit at 17-14 for the season.
Things worth mentioning…
Before getting into The Bad Stuff, we should talk about some positives, with the big one being Yusei Kikuchi putting together his second very good start in a row, both against the Yankees nonetheless. After holding New York to one earned run over six innings last week, Kikuchi again got the better of the Yanks, as he allowed two earned runs on two hits and three walks while striking out seven over five-and-one-third innings. He only made it through 14 2/3 innings in his first four outings so seeing Kikuchi plow his way through an opposing lineup multiple times is certainly encouraging.

The best Kikuchi is on display tonight. Command, rhythm, mix – confidence. Exactly what the #BlueJays have been waiting to see.
— Ben Wagner (@benwag247) May 11, 2022

Yusei Kikuchi, Nasty 88mph Slider…Bend t …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Game #3 Recap: Maple Leafs’ depth and Jack Campbell come up big in 5-2 win over the Lightning

If there was any game to remember between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, it’s this one.
This matchup had everything from hits, goals, power play goals, empty net goals, and even a few massive saves from Jack Campbell. In the end, the Maple Leafs took Game Three 5-2 and now lead the series 2-1. Game Four is on Sunday night.
Before I get started discussing the game, I wanted to take a moment in highlighting what being at Maple Leaf Square has been like. I’ve been there shooting video for The Leafs Nation’s social accounts since Game One and it’s been nuts.
This was after Ilya Mikheyev’s first empty net goal on Friday night.

The serotonin levels right now pic.twitter.com/dgA7Eyp4eg
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) May 7, 2022

I’ve been at Maple Leaf Square for plenty of playoff games, but for some reason, Friday night’s game had a vibe that I’ve never felt before. Now, it may be because of COVID and how amazing it was to just be around people again, but like I said, this felt incredibly different to past playoff years.
There was an event called ‘Stars on Ice’ being held inside Scotiabank Arena and as the crowd was filtering out, they were standing outside the doors recording Maple Leaf Sqaure. It felt like I was shooting a movie in all honesty.
Do you remember when people would call the 1920s the ‘roaring 20s’, well you better gear up because we’re going to be experiencing that for the next eight years.
The Gifs
The Maple Leafs began this game like they did for the past two games — hungry to get the game started with a goal of their own.
After Pat Maroon shot the puck out of play, Toro …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Ross Stripling: The hero we didn’t think we needed

Remember the COVID shortened season?

In my opinion, the front office didn’t do the best job of helping the team win. Yes, they brought in Taijuan Walker for Alberto Rodriguez (Seattle’s #8 prospect). They also traded for Jonathan Villar, which is already a loss in and of itself. In fairness, they did get Robbie Ray, however, he’d have been a free agent at the end of the season.
The other trade, which my friend was not happy about (hi Tristan!) saw the Jays #11 prospect at the time, Kendall Williams and former top 30 prospect, Ryan Noda traded to the Dodgers for Ross Stripling.
Prior to 2020:
Many were upset due to his 2020 stats, but Stripling was pretty damn good with the Dodgers in his four seasons prior to 2020. In his 387 innings pitched, he had a 3.51 ERA and 3.60 FIP. Stripling’s role was that of a start spotter, as he only started 22 of his 52 games that he appeared in.
He also had a rather low BB/9 of 2.1, with a rather impressive K/9 of 8.8. On a team with a bunch of great starters and some key relievers, Stripling was still an important piece that helped the Dodgers make every postseason of his four year career.
Stripling’s 2020:
Stripling’s 2020 prior to the trade wasn’t very good. In 33.2 innings pitched, he had a 5.61 ERA and 7.29 FIP. Furthermore, he had a 7.22 K/9 a …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

How are pitchers on our Top 20 doing? A look into pitching in the organization

Remember my “Top 20 Blue Jays prospects in the pre-season” articles I did in March and April? 

Well in this article, we’ll look to see how the pitchers on that list have done in the first month of Minor League action. Like the big league team, the bats in the minors haven’t really got going, but the pitching has been quite fantastic..  
We’ll be looking at other pitchers that have caught my eye who may appear on the mid-season version of the Top 20 list. We’ll start from #18 and work our way down. The “ones to keep an eye on” will be at the end of the article.
Hagen Danner (#18):
The 23-year-old former catcher has only pitched 3.2 innings before landing on the 7-day IL with the Fisher Cats. In that time frame, he posted a 4.91 ERA, 5.36 FIP and a K/9 of 2.45. A very small sample size for someone who’ll be a great reliever.
Hopefully he returns to good health soon and continues to dominate the minor leagues, because his fastball/slider combo is the real deal.
Kendry Rojas (#16):
Much like the other younger players on this list, the adjustment to Low A has been a struggle for the 19-year-old left hander. After only throwing 23 balls in 185 pitches last season, that number jumped to 109 balls in 264 pitches in 2022.
His season ERA sits at 4.50 with a FIP of 4.91. Rojas has a K/9 of 7.71 (down from 14.83 in 2021) while his BB/9 has risen from 1.9 to 6.43.
However, once you remove his debut game, where Rojas allowed 4 earned runs in a third of an inning, his numbers become much more respectable. In fact, his 1.98 in the past three games is even better than his 2.28 ERA in 2021.
However, even in those three games, he’s struggled wi …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

How the Maple Leafs can change the outcome after an early playoff exit last season

Killer instinct, do you remember those two words?
There are a number of takeaways when looking back on the Maple Leafs being eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens. Many of them good, but also some being difficult.
The optimistic outlook Toronto might have at the moment is that they can look back on what went wrong in the playoffs and try to fix it for this time around. Although, I’m not sure they even care about last year’s series against Montreal anymore.
If you remember, and I’m almost positive you do, Montreal went up 1-0 in the series in a game one which saw John Tavares taken off on a stretcher after an unintentional knee to the head from Corey Perry. That game ended up being very close, ending with a 2-1 score line, but I don’t believe anyone expected Toronto to win after the Tavares injury.
They did, though, go out and win the next three games for their captain, ending up with a 3-1 series lead going back to Toronto.
What could go wrong?
Game five ended with an Alex Galchenyuk giveaway at Montreal’s blue line in overtime and game six finished with a Travis Dermott turnover in Toronto …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Vladdy’s three homers lead the Blue Jays to a win in New York but Teoscar Hernandez left with an injury

This is one we’ll remember as a Vladdy Game.

Guerrero Jr. smashed three homers, two off of Gerrit Cole, as the Blue Jays beat the Yankees in The Bronx by a score of 6-4.
Things worth mentioning… 
The first Vladdy homer came in the first inning and it just scraped over the wall in centre field, the second came in the third inning and he managed to hit one of Cole’s fastballs that was in on his hands 427 feet to left field, and the third one came in the eighth inning off of Jonathan Loisaga and it looked like the ball was hit into space. Amazingly, two of the three homers came after Vladdy had his hand stepped on by Aaron Hicks as he ran out a ground ball past first base. Vladdy was gushing blood out of his hand, taped it up, and took that Cole fastball on the hands into the seats. Absolutely fucking nails.

Gerrit Cole has thrown 702 pitches in his MLB career at 95+ in & off the plate to righties.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the first hitter to ever hit a HR off one of those pitches. #BlueJays #NextLevel #Yankees pic.twitter.com/95YC27tLWK
— Chris Black (@DownToBlack) April 14, 2022

lol Vladdy hit this 427 feet pic.twitter.com/GZef4HU0y1
— Andrew Mearns (@MearnsPSA) April 14, 2022

Vladdy Jr. has hit 1,286 feet of home runs tonight, which is approximately a quarter of a mile.
— Molls (@mollyburkhardt) April 14, …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Marlies could end their season with two players etched in the record books and some new goaltenders

The Marlies are having a season to remember, but also one where they’ve battled to be in a playoff spot.
Toronto pretty much has a playoff spot booked, however, now it’s about seeding. The Marlies are battling it out with four other teams (Belleville, Rochester, Laval, and Syracuse) to finish the season in second or third place.
At this moment, Toronto is the fourth seed, meaning that they would play Rochester in the first round in a best-of-three series. I doubt any team wants to be in that series while the rest of the teams watch on.
On one hand, the Marlies are having an incredible season as players like Alex Steeves and Bobby McMann are having incredible years. On the other hand, they’re going to try and push for one of the top spots without any goaltenders that the Maple Leafs or Marlies have under contract.
It began with Keith Petruzzelli, who was experiencing concussion-like symptoms on Tuesday night before their game in Abbotsford. Toronto then went out and signed Talor Joseph to an ATO. Once the Marlies knew Petruzzelli couldn’t go, Michael Hutchinson was set to start the game. That was until Petr Mrazek got injured with t …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays are Looking to Sign Freddie Freeman + more!

Remember before the Josh Donaldson trade last night, how all of us were upset there was no movement? Jokes on us. We’ll start with the least likely transactions and end with the most likely transaction, and yes, Freeman is included in this article. 

Looks like Jose Ramirez won’t be traded after all:

Guardians a team to watch. Deep farm system (No. 8 in @keithlaw’s rankings), as well as some financial flexibility. Exploring high-end and mid-level bats (OF, 1B) as well as bullpen help, with preference for multi-year control. Among teams in mix for Athletics 1B Matt Olson.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 14, 2022

As much as this sucks, I’m not surprised in the slightest. The Guardians have a bunch of available payroll with a pretty darn good farm system. Not just that, but Ramirez is signed for the next two years on a team friendly contract. With the expanded playoffs, Cleveland has an opportunity to make it, especially in the weak AL Central division.
If the season goes array for the Guardians, it’s possible that Ramirez is shopped around at the deadline. If that’s the case, expect the Jays to pursue him.
Matt Chapman:
I don’t know what to make of this situation. It’s clear that the Athletics are shedding payroll, but they had an absolute haul for 27-year-old first baseman, Matt Olson.  If the A’s expect this for Matt Chapman, who has declined significantly in the past two seasons, it may scare off teams. I wrote about Chapman here. 
Carlos Correa:

Teams that are in the mix for the star shortstop: Astros, Cubs, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Angels. Correa listing his house in Houston is something of note, but the parties do have mutual interest in a return to the Astros.
— Mike 7⃣ (@michaelboboa) March 14, 2 …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Three Stars: Leafs’ stars shine against depleted Vegas lineup

Remember when we were mad at this team?
The Leafs managed to pick up their third win in a row in a dominating 4-0 win against the Vegas Golden Knights, which is admittedly not as impressive with Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and William Karlsson out of the lineup. The Leafs came flying out of the gate with by far their best start of the season, as they spent most of the first period in Vegas’ zone. They basically wouldn’t let up until the score got more and more out of reach, as goals from Mitch Marner and William Nylander, two from Auston Matthews, and a shutout from Jack Campbell would make this a pretty relaxing game for the team… and the fans.
Three stars
Third Star: William Nylander
Nylander had a vintage Nylander night alongside Matthews, getting an assist on a nice feed across the width of the ice to Matthews on the power play, and scoring a nice breakaway goal with a sick snipe. Like most of the Leafs tonight, he also dominated possession against the Golden Knights, with 65.71% of the shot attempt share and 84.39% of the expected goals at even strength.
Second Star: Auston Matthews
After a …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

News and Notes: Leafs make some cuts, waivers season is here, some new line combinations, and more

Reflect, learn & remember. Today & every day #EveryChildMatters
The Toronto Maple Leafs are committed to utilizing our platform to honour the lost children & survivors of Canadian Residential Schools, their families & communities.
To learn more » https://t.co/0W5KvDzjF1 pic.twitter.com/lDqqMIhyHN
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 30, 2021

 
It is nice to see the Leafs prepare a message for Truth and Reconciliation Day, something that I’m hopeful that settlers of Canada come to appreciate the importance of addressing the unspoken of genocide that has been going on for generations. Hopefully this is the start of the conversation, not just simply a day, and hopefully for the Leafs this means at the very least including land acknowledgements as part of their pregame.
Roster Changes
It’s been some time coming, but we’re starting to see the early cuts from Leafs camp. This morning it was William Villeneuve heading back to Saint John.
Leafs return William Villeneuve to the QMJHL

This afternoon we see a couple of players Marlies bound for the opening of their training camp.

Forwards Curtis Douglas and Rich Clune have been assigned to the Toronto Marlies (AHL)
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) September 30, 2021

Obviously with …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation