Epic comebacks are the most fun when they are against the Rays. Last September, the Blue Jays scored seven runs in the 9th inning, overcoming a 6-run deficit and eventually walking off the Rays. They did the same again today, except the seven runs were scattered over the last two innings, with the walk-off blow coming in the bottom of the 12th. This was a game that the Blue Jays at one point had a 0.3% chance of winning.
The game started out rough. Borucki simply didn’t have his fastball command this afternoon, and that was his undoing. He walked a batter in the first, sandwiched around a couple of cheap singles, first an infield single and then a flare to centre. But he got a double play to get himself out of the pickle with no damage on the scoreboard.
He was not so fortunate in the second. It started with a fly ball slight to right-centre field that was reasonably well hit, but that a decent right fielder should track down. But the Blue Jays insist on playing infielders in the outfield, and Eric Sogard got twisted around and it went for a double. That was followed by a soft flare for a single to put runners on the corners.
Borucki fell behind Mike Zunino with a couple of fastballs, but then tripled up on three pretty fading change-ups to strike him out, leaving him a ground ball from getting out of the inning. That was when the lack of fastball command bite him, as he hung a 91 MPH cookie to Willy Adames that was hammered for a long home run to left-centre and turn a 1-0 lead into a hole that felt insurmountable at the time.
It went further downhill from there. Borucki got another strikeout on a change-up, but then walked Tommy Pham and gave up a hard single to Austin Meadows. That brought Travis d’Arnaud, who is quickly turning into a Blue Jays nemesis. After driving home the game winning runs yesterday, he effectively struck the knock out blow by mashing another fastball over the plate for a no doubt home run to make it 6-1.
Borucki gave up another hard hit double, before a generous called strikeout. By the end of the inning, he was above 60 pitches and it was the end of his outing as Sam Gaviglio was out for the third. It didn’t start off much better for him, as he gave up a trio of hard hit singles around a flyout for a 7th run, with another scoring on a tapper to the mound. Guerrero couldn’t handle a grounder to what would usually be the shortstop position on a shift, but Gaviglio but a flyout to end the inning.
After that, he settled in with a couple of scoreless innings, albeit walking a man in each. Wilmer Font came in for the 6th, and immediately got himself into trouble with a double down the left field line and a walk. He limited the damage to a sac fly for a 9th run, before two perfect innings for the 7th and 8th. David Phelps added a perfect 9th, setting way for the epic comeback.
With the game now tied in the 10th, Ken Giles pitched a 3 up, 3 down inning, retiring all three batters via groundout. Tim Mayza was handed the ball for the 11th, and he also had a 3 up, 3 down inning, striking out two.
Another clean inning by Daniel Hudson in the 12th paved way for Teoscar’s game winning homer. Hudson was awarded the win.
After a couple of dismal innings, the Jays bats finally showed up. In fact, after mustering just one run on five hits over the their last two games combined, they had outdone that by the end of the third inning with two runs on five hits. By the end of the game, the Jays had more than tripled that number with 16 total hits. Every Blue Jay except Jansen had at least one hit, with five players collecting at least two. Lourdes Gurriel had three, and Drury had four.
The Jays jumped on Rays opener Andrew Kittridge from the get go. Lourdes Gurriel beat out a tapper to third, and then scored when Randall Grichul knocked a liner into the left-centre gap. I’m actually not quite sure why Guillermo Heredia didn’t just knock the ball over the wall with his glove for a ground rule double that would have prevented Gurriel from scoring, but wonders never cease.
Gurriel was stranded, but Cavan Biggio led off the second by crushing a fastball Kittridge left belt high in the middle of the plate for a 429 foot home run. Hopefully that goes a long way to extricating him from his recent slump. Other than that, the Jays were not doing a whole lot the first time through, as in between that Kittridge struck out the side in both innings.
Then they really started squandering chances. Sogard and Freddy Galvis started off the third with back-to-back hard singles, but the next three went down in order. Jalen Beeks came in for the 4th inning, and issued a walk to Biggio followed by Brandon Drury ripping a one out single two put two on. Once again, for naught. It would be the story of the next couple innings, as Beeks was constantly on the ropes with no knockout blow.
After a perfect 5th, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off the 6th with a double down the left field line, Biggio again walking to put two on with none out. But Danny Jansen grounded into a double play, and while Drury singled home the run with two out, it wasn’t close to the crooked number the Jays needed to get back into the game. Thanks to an error and Gurriel single, they again put two guys on against Beeks in the 7th. Again, the Jays ended up with nothing to show for it, but perhaps it was just a prelude to what was awaiting in the next two innings.
The Jays then started to cut away at the deficit as the dam finally broke in the 8th. Hunter Wood replaced Beeks, and after striking out Biggio and Jansen, Drury took him deep for a hard hit no-doubt solo shot. Tesocar Hernandez followed by doing the same, tucking a fly ball right down the right field line.
The Jays tapped into their supply of late inning magic in the 9th. Old friend Oliver Drake gave up a lead off double to Gurriel, then issued a walk to Grichuk paving the way for a Vlad Jr plakata to bring the Jays within one. Adam Kolarek replaced Drake and struck out Biggio, then another mid-inning pitching change brought in Colin Poche who struck out Jansen. Down to their last out with Brandon Drury at the plate, Drury sent the first pitch he saw from Poche into the stands for his second homer today to tie the game.
The Jays went down in order in the 10th, then had back-to-back two out walks in the 11th but couldn’t capitalize. Teoscar, who was first up to bat in the 12th, turned on a 2-2 95mph fastball and sent everyone home happy.
Jays of the Day: Drury (+0.396 WPA), Hernandez (0.302), and Mayza/Giles/Hudson who all have an even .139 WPA.
Blew Jays: Borucki (-0.432) and Jansen (-0.133)
Tomorrow, Aaron Sanchez will look to build off the positive results from his last start when he opposes Yonny Chirinos in the rubber match in the usual 1pm ET Sunday start time.