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Today in Jays history: Buehrle gives up 7 runs, but Jays win

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Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Seven Years Ago Today

Mark Buehrle gave up 7 runs in an inning against the Rays, but the Jays came back to win 8-7.

I had been doing recaps of random Jays games (and likely will again if we are without baseball for a long time), but lately, it seems more fun to find an interesting game on that day in Jays history. But I digress...

Buehrle had a rough start to his first season with the Blue Jays. Coming into this game, he had a 6.43 ERA in 6 starts. We were thinking that maybe he just wasn’t up to pitching in the AL East. That he had been good in the NL East but the smaller parks, the better hitters, of the AL East seemed to be too much for him.

Then came this start against the Rays in the wonderful place that is Tropicana Field.

The first two innings went ok. Mark loaded the bases in the first but got out of the inning and then had quick second. Then came the third. From Minor Leaguer’s recap:

The Rays’ half of the third inning looked like this: single, walk, single (run), single, grand slam (4 runs), double, strike out, homer (2 runs), ground out, strike out. So for those not tallying that was six hits and seven runs in that inning—but hey, he struck out two while only walking one. A partial positive we could take from Buehrle’s start is that he logged three more clean (more or less) innings after his blow up to give the Blue Jays their chance to start a rally. Beside that, there was nothing much good to say about him.

How often does a manager leave a starting pitcher to give up 7 runs in an inning? How many times does a pitcher give up 7 runs in an inning and then throw 3 more innings? But a) our bullpen had done a ton of work leading up to that game and b) down by 7 the game we pretty much over, why not have him eat innings? As ML mentions in the recap, the Jays had a 1.7% chance of winning after the 7 runs.

The comeback, we scored:

  • 3 in the fourth: Adam Lind singled, Colby Rasmus homered. Munenori Kawasaki walked, Brett Lawrie walked and Melky Cabrera singled home Muni. 7-3.
  • 2 in the sixth: Maicer Izturis singled and Mark DeRosa homered. 7-5.
  • 1 in the eighth: J.P. Arencibia singled, Lawrie walked, Cabrera reached on error (Yunel Escobar helped us out) and, J.P. scored on a Jose Bautista sac fly. 7-6
  • 2 in the ninth: Lind walked, Emilio Bonifacio came as pinch runner and stole second. Two out later, J.P. Arencibia homered to give us our first lead of the day. 8-7 Jays.

Our bullpen pitched 3 scoreless to give us a chance to comeback. Esmil Rogers (remember him). Darren Oliver (getting the win) and Casey Janssen (getting his 8th save, with a 0.82 ERA) each pitch an inning.

Jays of the Day! J.P. Arencibia (+.765!!! WPA), Casey Janssen (+.167 WPA), Melky Cabrera (+.136 WPA). I will also give honourary JoD awards to Colby Rasmus and Mark DeRosa for homering in what was low-leverage situations. Honourary JoDs also go to the Jays fans who were down there cheering on the team and bringing the attendance up to 9,952.

Arencibia joins just 11 other Blue Jays to have a game WPA of over +.750, and is sitting at 11th place all-time. Roberto Alomar leads the way with a +1.037 WPA effort back on May 10, 1991.

Suckage Jays: Mark Buehrle (-.299 WPA), Maicer Izturis (-.210 WPA).

Also from the recap:

I wonder how long that lasted?

A couple of days later I asked: Did anyone figure Mark Buehrle would be this bad?

Mark’s pitched 41 innings and allowed 11 home runs. 7 starts and he’s given up at least 1 home run in all but 2 games. Looking at Fangraphs, 18.6% of his fly balls are home runs, well up from his career rate of 10.1%, so maybe there is some bad luck. /maybe he’ll get better. He can’t get worse, right?

He didn’t get worse. He got much much better. After this game, he had a 3.43 ERA in 26 starts and an 11-8 record for the rest of the season. I don’t know if this start was the shock to the system that Mark needed or if he figured something out or if he had just been unlucky early in the season. He finished the season 12-10 with a 4.15 ERA in 203.2 innings.