LOS ANGELES -- Though the Blue Jays lost on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium on a walk-off for the second consecutive night, starter Jacob Waguespack’s performance was a sign of positive things to come.
Facing one of the most potent offenses in baseball, the rookie right-hander delivered the best start of his Major League career, firing seven scoreless innings in a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers. It was his first time getting through the seventh as a big leaguer.
“When he’s in command, you can see the confidence on the mound that he’s going to get whoever out,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He was fun to watch.”
Waguespack struck out five, throwing 61 of his 95 pitches for strikes. More impressive, he allowed just one hit, and only three men reached base against him. The hit was a one-out bloop single by opposing pitcher Kenta Maeda in the third, while the other baserunners reached on a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
“We just didn’t have a feel for their pitcher tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Unfamiliar with him and a different kind of arm stroke, pitches doing a lot of different things.”
Waguespack relied primarily on his two-seam fastball and his cutter to shut down the Dodgers, whom he set down in order in five of the seven innings he pitched. However, it was his shakiest inning -- the third -- that he took as evidence of how far he’s come as a pitcher.
After Maeda’s hit, Waguespack walked A.J. Pollock. With two outs, Waguespack had a 10-pitch battle against Justin Turner, who ultimately lined out to end the frame.
“Man, Turner, he was getting me there,” said Waguespack. “Everything I was throwing at him, he was fouling off. In years past, that inning would’ve got to me, but I just tried to stick to my strengths and stick to the game plan that we went over before the game, and that was it. Just trying to attack and be aggressive.”
Playing in a National League park also afforded Waguespack the opportunity to get his first Major League at-bats. He struck out his first time up in the second inning, then drew a four-pitch walk in the fifth.
Waguespack’s night came to an end earlier than it might have otherwise because he was experiencing stomach cramps, according to Montoyo. Otherwise, the right-hander would have stayed in to pitch the eighth.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, Waguespack’s efforts were undone in the ninth, when Derek Law blew the two-run lead and allowed the Dodgers to complete the sweep. Even so, Waguespack was grateful for the opportunity to show what he is capable of against a tough Dodgers lineup, in front of a packed Dodger Stadium crowd.
“Listen, that was a lot of fun to pitch out there,” said Waguespack. “The amount of fans that come to the games, that was amazing. But you know, I think it’s just about coming to the field and preparing and working every day and letting the rest of it take care of itself.”