Let's face it, that was a devastating loss. Not only the fact that they lead for most of the game, not only that Ezequiel Carrera for the second straight game tried to put the team on his shoulders, not only because some of their best relievers were left in the pen as the game winning home run sailed over the fence, not only because they ran themselves out of several potential big innings, but because it dropped them back to .500 nearing the end of July.
Let it not be said that Carrera didn't do his utmost. In the bottom of the 6th with the Jays up 4-3, he went leaping above the left field wall to steal a home run from Mike Zunino that would have put Seattle up 5-4. Then leading off the top of 7th, he hit a home run for the second straight afternoon to give the Jays an insurance run. And he was involved in bizarre triple play that killed a nascent rally (more on that below)
Alas, it was not enough insurance. Bo Schultz gave up the long blast to Zunino that Carrera pulled back on his first pitch of the game, so he was back out for the 7th. And with good reason, he's been so good recently. After a leadoff flyout he walked Kyle Seager and then hung a cutter to Nelson Cruz, who destroyed it to left field to tie the game 5-5. He rebounded to blow away Cano and Franklin Gutierrez, but the horse was out of the barnyard.
Aaron Sanchez came out for the 8th and was brilliant, needing just 11 pitches to retire the side in order with two strikeouts. Despite having thrown an inning yesterday, I was surprised that he didn't come out for the 9th at least to start. Instead, Ryan Tepera came out and pitched around a leadoff single. I'm not sure he's the best guy to send out in a walkoff situation, but he got the job done.
And so we moved to the 10th. Despite having already had Osuna up and with Cecil only having thrown 10 pitches yesterday, Aaron Loup came in with the lefty Cano due up followed by three RHB (who have hit five HR in 22.1 innings off him coming in). Loup got Cano, but Gutierrez smashed an 0-2 fastball over the fence in left-centre field, and that was that. Loup is hell on left handed batters, but Gibbons has to stop using him in important situations when the batters skew righty. It's absolutely killed them this year.
Mark Buehrle started today and turned in a quality start over 5.2 innings, though he was not as sharp as he has been. He allowed 10 hits, walking one and striking out three. After Josh Donaldson put the Jays ahead with with a solo shot in the 1st, Buerhle uncharacteristically gave it right back yielding a leadoff home run to Austin Jackson. Seager followed with a single, but Buehrle picked him off and set down the next 5 in order.
He ran into more trouble in the third, as the Mariners strung together three hits to score another, before the Jays turned a beautiful 3-6-1 double play. And a good thing too, as two more hits and a walk followed, pushing Buerhel over 50 pitches through three. After that, Buehrle settled in pretty well, departing with two out in the 6th, leaving a runner as a result of a Donaldson error.
Offensively, the Jays should probably have scored a lot more, and maybe even put the game away early. Leading off the 2nd, Justin Smoaked a leadoff single and trundled around to 3rd when Russ Martin followed with a double. Taijuan Walker spared Smoak the indignity of having to run further, balking him home. Carrera followed with a single to score Martin, and Pillar reached on a booted grounder, stll with none out. Despite four straight reaching, Ryan GOins was told to bunt, got behind 0-2, and struck out.
Reyes walked to load the bases with one out, up 3-1 with the bases loaded, and this is where the Jays really needed to put things away. Donaldson brought in a run on a sacrifice fly, but the Jays failed to really bust the game open. They had more chances to tack on runs, but squandered them on the bases. With one out in the 3rd after an Edwin Encarnacion leadoff single and Martin up, they tried the hit and run and ended up instead with a strike him out, throw him out double play to end the threat.
But that paled in comparison with what happened in the 4th. Carrera led off with a walk, and Pillar followed up with the single to put runners on the corners with none out. Goins hit a grounded sharply to Trumbo at first base, who touched the bag and removed the force, trapping Pillar in a rundown. Carrera broke towards home, drawing a throw home which got him in a rundown, and Pillar advanced to third. So there should have been a runner on third base, two out. Instead, this happened.
Both runners were out, the inning was over on a triple play. As best I can tell, the sequence is as follows:
- Carrera gets back into 3rd, giving him legal possession of it
- Pillar touches 3rd
- Rivera starts flailing at Pillar to go back to 2nd, Pillar leans that way and wisely thinks better
- Carrera is tagged by catcher, then Pillar. Both stay standing on the bag, waiting for ump to call one out and ensure the other is safe
- Rivera continues gesturing wildly, then touches Carrera twice
- The second touch is either with enough force to push Carrera off the bag, or causes Carrera to flinch and come off the bag, then he trips and falls down
- Carrera is tagged out
- Rivera puts his hands on his hips and wistfully examines the scene with an air of "Who? What? Me?"
The bottom line is that but for Luis Rivera's hysterical intervention(s), there would have been a runner on third with two outs. I'm sure he's a nice guy and would be a competent coach in some capacity, but he's so far out of his depth directing baserunners it's well beyond the pale.
After this point, Walker really settled in, stricking out the side the next inning. The Seattle bullpen, aside from the Carrera home run, shut things down, and that was that.
Jays of the Day: Carrera (+0.149, plus about +0.400 for stealing the HR), Tepera (+0.11). Sanchez gets one too (+0.90, 2K, and the same yesterday)
Suckage: Bo Schultz (-0.295, plus about another -0.400 if Carrera doesn't save the HR), Loup (-0.390), Bautista (-0.135, 0/5), Goins (-0.216, but some of that is the triple play which wasn't all him). And of course, Luis Rivera. Gibby too for the bullpen management, who knows if it's fair but I'm frustrated.
I have written four game recaps this year; Luis Rivera has received a Suckage Award in three of them. Tomorrow the Jays are off as the return home for a two game set with Philadelphia starting Tuesday.