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Middle inning meltdown costs the Blue Jays a win in Tulo's return

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays 5 Rockies 9

Hello darkness, my old friend
The 'pen came to melt down again

Stop me if you've heard this refrain before: the Blue Jays lost a game that appeared to be well in hand, with a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 6th inning. A combination of a starting pitcher running out of gas and a brutal bullpen meltdown resulted in a game that looks like this:

Source: FanGraphs

It was immediately apparent that they were in Colorado, as Ezequiel Carrera led off with a pretty routine fly ball that almost carried through the thin air and out of the park. Right behind him, Devon Travis put a well hit ball in the air to dead centre, and it carried about 420 feet over the fence to stake the Jays to a 1-0 lead.

After that auspicious start, the game quickly settled into a pitcher's duel for the first five innings. Rockies start Jon Gray did not allow another hit until the 6th inning, setting down 12 in a row after hitting Russell Martin in the 2nd inning. He struck out six batters over that stretch, effectively using his fastball in the mid-to-high 90s and a hard slider around 90 MPH.

Meanwhile, Marco Estrada was matching him in turn. After a single and walk in the first inning, he too retired 12 batters in a row before that was broken up with two outs in the 5th inning. He piled up 7 strikeouts, most of them on his changeup which has its usual devastating effectiveness.

The logjam finally broke the in the 6th inning, as Devon Travis broke up the aforementioned 12 straight batters retired and sparked a two out rally with a line drive double. Josh Donaldson hit a hard ground ball on the next pitch into left field, barely scoring Travis in a close play at the plate. It wasn't the greatest send, but considering how scarce offensive production had been, it was justified in the circumstances. Edwin Encarnacion then doubled the margin again with his 20th big fly of the year.

At this point, the Jays had a 88% win expectancy, and with Estrada rolling and a low pitch count, the game seemed well in hand at 4-0. Alas, Estrada ominously started the 6th by issuing a free pass, followed by a hard line drive on an 0-2 changeup. He struck out Nolan Arenado, again on a changeup; but after putting Carlos Gonzalez in a 0-2 hole and missing with a couple fastballs, he went back to the changeup, hung it, and Cargo destroyed it for a no doubt three run shot to neutralize the damage done in the top of the inning.

Still, the Jays were in the driver's seat with a 4-3 lead. Kevin Pillar doubled with 2 out in the 7th, so Justin Smoak pinch hit for Estrada (who at 92 pitches, dealing with back issues, and after the damage in the 6th should have been anyway) and popped out.

Drew Storen was first out of the pen, his outing (working title: "Anatomy of a Meltdown") went as follows:

  • Hard leadoff single, then a sac bunt from the pitcher's spot. Win Expectancy: 57%
  • Got ahead of Charlie Blackmon 1-2, then hit him with a wild fastball. WE: 53%
  • Got ahead of C. Adames 0-2, then hit him with a wild fastball to load the bases. WE: 42%
  • hat should really have been the end of his night, but no one else was ready, so he faced Nolan Arenado who hit a hard single to score two runs. WE: 20%

That was finally the end of his night, and in came Jesse Chavez, who fared no better: single to reload the bases (WE: 15%), walk to force in a run (WE: 9%), single to score two more (WE: 3%), fly out (WE: 4%), double to score another two (WE: 2%). Ryan Tepera got the last out of the inning, and also worked a clean 8th, but the horse was long out of the barn.

The Jays went quietly in the 8th and 9th, aside from Encarnacion adding another home run.

Jays of the Day: Estrada (+0.127 WPA), Encarnacion (+0.126, 2 HR), Travis (+0.095, 2/4, 2B, HR). Tepera gets one for showing what competent relief work looks like.

Suckage: Storen (-0.399) earned the Super Suckage. Chavez (-0.179) just gets a normal one

Tomorrow, the Jays look to get back on track with J.A. Happ facing Eddie Butler at 8:40 ET

Since this game ended up such a tire fire, let's end this recap with a #hottake of similar quality from Marty York that I came across looking for a video of Edwin's home run(s):