Russell Martin’s MLB debut as manager went...well, about like most of the rest of the season for the Jays, especially when it came to their AL East rivals.
Rays opener Ryne Stanek went two scoreless innings, flying out the side after a Kevn Pillar leadoff single and then striking out the side in the 2nd to lower his 2018 ERA just under the 2.00 mark. The Jays jumped out to their only lead of the game in the 3rd off “reliever” Ryan Yarbrough, as Pillar had his second hit of the day with two out and scored when Randal Grichuk flared a double down the left field line.
It was pretty much all downhill from there. In the bottom of the inning, Sam Gaviglio had two out with a runner on, before a wild pitch and walk put runners at the corners. The Rays tried the delayed double steal, the throw sailed into the outfield and the game was tied. A ground ball just to the left of second base snuck into centre to give them a 2-1 lead.
Gaviglio got a ground ball to get out the inning, and three more in the 4th, keep the game close. The Jays equalized in the 5th, as Pillar got his third straight hit, his 40th double of the season to plate Richard Urena. That ran his season wRC+ to 89, his best showing since 2015, as he was replaced by Jonathan Davis.
That was as close as the Jays got, as Gaviglio allowed a three spot in the bottom of the 5th. A leadoff bunt single, RBI single after a sac bunt, RBI triple and then sac fly as the Rays continued to manufacture runs. For whatever reason, he was back out for the 6th, but departed with two out after a walk with two out. His final line was 5 (earned) runs on 6 hits, against 3 walks and 3 strikeouts.
The bullpen was unimpressive. Jose Fernandez got out of the 6th, but not before a walk loaded the bases. Joe Biagini finally a tough 2018 on a rough note, allowing three runs on three hits, two walks, a stolen base, a wild pitch, and a partridge on a pear tree. Taylor Guerrieri got the last out for him, but then lost control in the 8th hitting a couple batters around a single and allowing the final run.
The Jays did punch back offensively a little bit. Down 5-2 in the 6th, Tesocar Hernandez walked and Rowdy Tellez singled to start the inning with runners on the corners. Aledmys Diaz got the run on a fielder’s choice but the rally stopped there. With their last call in the 9th, the Jays repeated the feat as Jon Berti tripled and Urena walked, but Davis almost hit into a triple play. It was routine ground ball to short, Berti didn’t go initially but broke when they decided to turn two, and was almost out at the plate.
What a fitting end to 2018 that would have been. Instead, it ended conventionally on a routine 4-3 routine by Dwight Smith Jr. The Jays finish the 2018 season series with Tampa Bay at a miserable 6-13. Oh well, at least most of that came when it didn’t matter anyway.
Jays of the Day: Pillar (+0.218 WPA). I dare wonder, in his last game as Jay?
Suckage: Gaviglio (-0.345), Billy McKinney (-0.160), Biagini (-0.097), Diaz (-0.091).
Tomorrow, we stare out the window and begin the long wait for spring. Only 179 days until Detroit visits Rogers Centre to open 2019.
How many of the 2018 season finale Suckage Jays will be on the 2019 Opening Day roster?
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