For a while, it looked like this was going to be a feel good win for the Jays. Then the bullpen cracked in the eighth inning and destroyed all those feel good narratives.
John Axford entered the action with Toronto up 4-0 and the game seemingly in hand, but after walking Matt Chapman and allowing a single to Khris Davis, the A’s were in business. John Gibbons elected to stay with Axford who did strike out Matt Olsen, but then gave up another single Stephen Piscotty which made it 4-1.
At this point, Tyler Clippard entered the game, and after striking out Dustin Fowler, he walked Jed Lowrie to load the bases. This set up the key at bat of the game; Chad Pinder took Clippard deep the other way for a grand slam that gave Oakland a 5-4 lead they would never relinquish.
The Jays bullpen has been great all year, and the advanced metrics have been suggesting that Clippard’s been overdue to crash back to Earth, so it’s hard to go ballistic about this one inning, but boy was it a painful time to have this happen. It erased an excellent outing from Sam Gaviglio and extended what’s been a very underwhelming stretch of baseball for the Blue Jays. The team is now just 4-11 in their last 15 games.
The good news is that Sam Gaviglio did great today. He filled up the strike zone, and pitched 5.1 scoreless innings against a sneaky explosive Oakland lineup. Acquired on March 21 from the Royals for a player to be named later, Gaviglio has gone from an afterthought to (after this outing) the obvious choice as the sixth starter for now ahead of Joe Biagini until the rest of the rotation proves healthy.
Giovanny Urshela, another player to be named later who was acquired from Cleveland earlier this month also made a major contribution this afternoon. His two-run home run in the fifth was his first in a Jays uniform and gave them a 2-0 lead, and for a while, it looked like it would be all the offense they would need.
Unfortunately, well ....... the eighth inning happened .....
The other problem for Toronto in this game was hitting with runners in scoring position. They were just 1-9 in this category. Most of these opportunities came before the pen allowed any runs, but a bigger lead might have made Oakland’s big inning irrelevant.
The loss also drops the Jays behind the Rays and into fourth place in the AL East. So there’s that.
Tomorrow the Jays will send Joe Biagini to the hill to try and avoid the four game sweep. He’ll be opposed by Daniel Mengden and his amazing mustache.
Jays of the Day: Gaviglio (.255) who deserved better, Urshela (.126) who got the Jays on the board, and Oh (.099) who racked up five outs without allowing a run and kept Gaviglio’s card clean.
Jays Suckage: Axford (-.125) who started the fire, Clippard (-.519) who poured gasoline on it, Martin (-.170) who went hitless and made an error, and Hernandez (-.164) who also went hitless and made an error.
Here’s a depressing graph:
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