A night after getting pummeled, the Blue Jays dropped an extra-inning heartbreaker in Texas as the Rangers basically ran them out of rocks.
The Jays’ bullpen was depleted because the relievers had to work 6 1/3 innings in the series-opening blowout, so Carlos Villanueva wasn’t available for Saturday afternoon, and neither Ryota Igarashi nor Jason Frasor was supposed to be. But when you get to a 13th inning, you have to change the strategy a bit.
The Blue Jays tied the game in the top of the 7th, after Henderson Alvarez gave up back-to-back-to-back two-out solo homers to Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba and Mitch Moreland to get the Rangers back from 4-2 down. Alvarez was ejected after throwing a two-strike sinker inside, hip-high, on the next hitter, Ian Kinsler, in a stunning display of baseball ignorance from home plate umpire Marty Foster. I don’t believe, though, that it had anything to do with any kind of personal vendetta from the umpires for the Brett Lawrie incident of two weeks ago or the Blue Jays’ constant chirping about ball/strike calls. I’m amazed that there still exist umpires with such little grasp of the game that could think Alvarez would be throwing at Kinsler intentionally, down a run in the 6th with two outs and two strikes and the meat of the Rangers’ order to follow.
Anyway, Jose Bautista doubled to lead off the 7th, J.P. Arencibia cashed him with a single, and the game stayed tied at fives until the 13th.
The Blue Jays were awfully lucky to have it stay tied, too, since they didn’t have a baserunner in the 8th, 9th, 10th or 11th and managed just a Colby Rasmus walk and an infield single by Edwin Encarnacion in the 12th. Meanwhile, the Rangers were getting the leadoff man on base in every inning from the 9th on – the last Blue Jays pitcher to throw a clean inning in the game was Francisco Cordero.
Casey Janssen hit the leadoff man in each of the 9th and 10th, managed to work his way out of the first jam and needed Darren Oliver’s help to get out of the second one. Oliver came on to strike out pinch-hitter Mike Napoli and end the 10th. The veteran lefty then gave up leadoff singles in each of the 11th and 12th, but worked out of both frames. Even though none of the Rangers’ six baserunners from the 9th to the 12th came around to score, that helped them turn over the line-up so that it was the top of the order coming to bat in the bottom of the inning.
First to the top, though, when the Blue Jays struck for a pair. It was 45 year-old Omar Vizquel coming up huge in the clutch, driving a two-out single to centre to cash Brett Lawrie with the go-ahead run. Vizquel would score as Nelson Cruz misplayed Yunel Escobar’s line drive. The Blue Jays had a two-run lead going to the bottom of the 13th, but as I mentioned at the time on The Twitter, it felt as though they needed more.
That’s because with Luis Perez, Cordero, Janssen and Oliver having been used up to shut the Rangers out over 6 1/3 innings of stellar relief work, the Blue Jays’ bullpen was out of fresh pitchers.
All that was left was Villanueva (who had thrown 66 pitches the night before), Frasor (who had thrown 31) and Igarashi (who had thrown 41), along with Sunday’s scheduled starter Kyle Drabek, who was on his normal fifth day thanks to Thursday’s day off.
I’m assuming John Farrell really wanted to avoid using Frasor, which is why he gave the ball to Igarashi to start the 13th. The newest Blue Jay had gotten roughed up in his long inning Friday night, and he started this outing the same way he did that one, by walking the first batter he faced. This time, though, he followed by letting Elvis Andrus take him deep into the gap in left-centre for an RBI double and Farrell had seen enough. I’m thinking Alex Anthopoulos has probably seen enough of Igarashi too, at this point.
The call went to Frasor and, with Josh Hamilton up as the winning run, the decision was made to pitch to the Rangers’ slugger, and it didn’t work. Hamilton pounded a 1-2 changeup into the grassy knoll beyond the centre-field fence for his 20th homer of the season – the walk-off winner.
There’s room for disagreement, but I’m all for not putting the winning run on base via the intentional walk, even if it’s a guy having the season Hamilton is. It’s easy to say you saw it coming, but Hamilton stays in the park in 90% of his plate appearances. Over his last nine games, he was hitting .242 with one home run. And you have a pitcher on fumes, who’s likely to give up a hit or two. Make the hitter earn his way on. It’s a shame for the Blue Jays that it ended the way it did, but I firmly believe that it was the right decision not to walk Hamilton, that it was likelier the Rangers would win the game if they had. Hamilton certainly beat the odds by taking Frasor deep there, and more power to him for that.
After a loss like that, it was bound to be a fun BlueJaysTalk – the only thing I really don’t like is when a caller only wants to talk at me, not with me. I’m looking for a conversation, not to be shouted down, no matter how frustrated you are by a given game. Here’s the show, for your listening pleasure:
The series wraps up Sunday afternoon, by which time I expect there will be a couple of new faces in the Blue Jays’ bullpen (it was nice knowing you, Iggy). Kyle Drabek will get the start against Yu Darvish in a rematch of their April 30th meeting at Rogers Centre, which Drabek left after six strong innings trailing 2-1. We’ll be on the air across the Blue Jays Radio Network at 2:30PM Eastern for a 3:07 first pitch – join us, won’t you?
Please give me a follow on The Twitter, you can find me @wilnerness590 – seems I block more people after a game like this one than at any other time.
Comments are welcome – I read them all and respond to most!