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Royals 5, Blue Jays 4: Toronto’s refusal to cut ties with Jason Grilli burns them again

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This recap is brought to you by the letters “D”, “F”, and “A”.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know what it’s going to take for the Blue Jays front office to realize Jason Grilli is done, but boy did the organization’s loyalty to this man burn them tonight. Despite the obvious writing on the wall weeks ago, the Blue Jays not only continued to employ a human gas can in their bullpen, but tonight John Gibbons decided to throw him into the fire during the highest leverage at bat of the entire game.

With two outs, runners at the corners, and the Blue Jays clinging to a 4-3 ninth inning lead, Grilli took the bump and immediately fell behind Whit Merrifield 3-1. At the moment, everybody in the ballpark knew that a patented Grilli meatball was coming down the middle of the plate. The only question left was whether or not the screaming line drive was going to be hit right at a fielder ...

It wasn’t.

Merrifield belted a nothing fastball over the head of Dwight Smith Jr. in left field, and Alex Gordon scored all the way from first: Ballgame!

I’m sure the Jays will come to Grillli’s defense and talk about the three non puke inducing outings he strung together between this and the infamous Yankees outing, all while completely ignoring the fact that Grilli has been a train wreck in high leverage situations this season.

The baseball gods gave ample warning about this being a horrible idea, but the Jays continue to try to jam a square peg in a round hole. They want this popular clubhouse guy to have a feel good moment so badly, they’re now forcing him into situations he doesn’t belong at the expense of the team.

J.A. Happ had the best outing of any Jays stater the last two trips around the rotation, Tulo put his best swing on the ball in a fortnight for an RBI double to right field that got the Jays on the board first in the fourth inning, and Kendrys Morales made a mad dash from first on the play that proved all for nothing.

Loses like this are absolutely brutal for any team, but it’s especially costly for the Jays because most projection systems have them finishing right on the edge of a playoff spot. In other words, one or two games could easily be the difference when we get to the end of September, and missing the post season by a game or two because you’re not willing to accept the fact that father time has a death grip on Jason Grilli would be a travesty. The DFA can’t come soon enough, but it might already be too late.

Now to be fair, Grilli isn’t the only reason the Jays lost this game. It took a perfect alignment of bad juju for us to get to that point, which we’ll get into now:

1) The Jays had to put Joe Smith on the DL

This shortened the bridge between the end of the starter’s road and Osuna.

2) But oops, Osuna wasn’t wasn’t available tonight because he wasn’t feeling well.

The fans didn’t know that until it was too late, but boy did that make things tricky.

3) The Blue Jays started the night 0-10 with runners in scoring position.

Toronto did plate four runs which included a pair of insurance knocks in the ninth, but they could have buried Kansas City early and didn’t take advantage.

4) The defense was awful.

Happ left with two outs in the seventh inning leaving seven outs for the bullpen to clean up, but they should have only had to get six. Danny Barnes put out a seventh inning fire that would have already been contained if Ryan Goins didn’t boot an Eric Hosmer ground ball earlier in the frame. This forced Gibbons to try and use Barnes and Tepera for seven outs instead of six.

As it turns out though, they needed to get eight because in the following frame, the 2017 left field adventure continued when Smith lost a Merrifield fly ball in the lights. This forced Tepera to come in with two outs in the eighth inning instead of in a clean ninth. He threw 32 pitches, but ran out of gas just before he could get the last out.

5) Aaron Loup couldn’t get Alex Gordon and his .295 On Base Percentage.

Before handing the game to gas can Grilli, Gibbons went to a left on left match up to try and end the night, but one pitch and a screaming liner to center later, Loup was headed to the showers.

This set the stage for the ultimate no-no; Grilli in a high leverage situation. Clearly using Grilli in the ninth wasn’t Gibbons’ first choice, but it was still the wrong call, and it really exposed why he shouldn’t be on the team. Sure you’re not going to be bringing in a top notch reliever there, but if you gave a younger guy a shot there they might have shown you something, which not only would have won this game, but gave you valuable information you could use in a game later in the season when all the other high leverage arms are gassed.

Instead we just got yet another reminder that Grilli is done. The question remains, when are the Blue Jays going to realize it.

Jays of the Day: Happ (.238) for his brilliant outing, Tulo (.183) for his two hits and strong defensive play, and Barnes (.140) for getting out of the seventh inning jam.

Jays suckage: Grilli (-.794) because “DUH!”, Loup (-.105) because he couldn’t get Gordon who’s been awful this year, Goins (-.026) because he went hitless and made the costly error, Gibbons because he brought in Grilli in a high leverage situation, and the front office because of their refusal to DFA a guy who should have been off the team weeks ago.

Ugly Game Graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Roll Call:

The Blue Jays will be back in action tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. ET when March Estrada will try to have a bounce back outing against Jason Vargas who’s been by far Kansas City’s best pitcher this season. The Jays have their work cut out for them if they want to avoid a three game losing streak.