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Jays Out-Dueled by Rays’ Bullpen in Extras

Winning streak ends at 6

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The Jays lost to the Rays tonight in a tight 10 inning pitchers’ duel during which neither team recorded an extra base hit. The Jays’ pitchers were collectively excellent, striking out 11 in 9.2 innings while allowing 5 hits and 4 walks. The Rays weren’t quite as effective in the box score, allowing 5 hits and 6 walks while striking out 8, but were able to get outs in key situations, holding the Jays to 1-8 with a walk with runners in scoring position.

We got some signature Trop weirdness in the top of the first when a pop fly hit off Rays opener Aaron Slegers by Cavan Biggio dinged off a catwalk above the third base line. The bounce was a lucky one for the Jays, as Rays third baseman Joey Wendle had a clear play on the ball if it hadn’t been obstructed. The Jays weren’t able to make anything out of this rare bit of actually good luck in Tampa Bay, though. Biggio flied out on the next pitch, Randal Grichuk grounded out, and Travis Saw struck out to end the inning.

Hyun Jin Ryu came out looking sharp for the Jays, striking out leadoff man Mike Brosseau and getting a non-threatening fly out from Hunter Renfroe and a weak chopper back to the mound from Brandon Lowe

Slegers returned for a clean second inning, sandwiching a ground out by Vladimir Guerrero jr. between strikeouts of Teoscar Hernandez and Rowdy Tellez.

The first baserunner of the game came in the bottom of the second. Jose Martinez lined a single down the first base line. Ryu handled the threat easily, though, inducing a fly out, a ground ball fielder’s choice, and a ground out to end the inning.

Slegers continued to cruise in the third. Lourdes Gurriel jr. reached on an error by Brandon Lowe handling a grounder behind second base, but Joe Panik duly struck out and Reese MgGuire and Cavan Biggio both popped out. The Jays seem to really struggle against soft tossing weak contact specialists like Slegers, and none of the ten batters who faced him tonight got all that close to squaring him up.

Ryu got the Rays in order in the third, but had to throw some pitches. His command wasn’t quite as precise as it was early, and Tsutsugo, Zunino and Brosseau dug in and gave him tough at bats.

Slegers and Ryu traded clean innings in the fourth. Through four, the starters had allowed one hit and one runner to reach on an error, walked none, and struck out nine. The Rays have to be thrilled with Slegers’ effort. He came in as an opener and was so effective and efficient that they ended up giving him most of a start.

Sean Gilmartin relieved Slegers in the fifth, and was the only pitcher of the night for either team who seriously struggled. He started off by issuing the game’s first walk, to Vladimir Guerrero jr. Then, after a Tellez pop-up, he issued the second to Gurriel. Panik followed the walks up with a soft line drive single to load the bases. Reese McGuire struck out of three pitches and looked bad doing it. That brought up Biggio with two outs and the bases loaded. A pitcher battling his command is going to struggle with the most selective hitter in the league, and sure enough Biggio worked a walk to drive in Guerrero for the game’s first run. Gilmartin was able to stop the bleeding there, though, getting Grichuk to ground out to short.

Ryu also had a little trouble in the fifth, starting with back to back singles by Willy Adames and Joey Wendle. Margot hit a weak grounder to second that scored Adames and was too slow to allow the Jays to turn tow, forcing them to settle for getting Wendle at second. Ryu struck out Tsutsugo and Zunino to end the inning. The Rays continued to have very tough at-bats against Ryu. 5 innings with 1 run on 3 hits is pretty great, but it took him 94 pitches to do it. With all the baseball they’ve been playing, the Jays could really have used more than 5 from their ace. At some point, the workload and lack of off days are going to catch up to the bullpen.

Gilmartin returned to open the top of the sixth, but threw only two pitches before Travis Shaw roped a single to centre field and drove him out of the game. Righty side-armer Ryan Thompson was up next for the Rays. He gave up a broken bat single to Hernandez, then got Guerrero to chop a ball to second for a double play. Thompson wanted no piece of the lefty Tellez, walking him to put men on the corners, but had an easier time with Gurriel, a righty, who he got to ground out back to the mound.

Wilmer Font came in to pitch the sixth for the Blue Jays. Facing the top of the Rays’ order, he struck out two and got a lazy fly out to end the inning.

Handling the seventh for the Rays was Peter Fairbanks, who dispatched Panik and McGuire pretty easily. Cavan Biggio lined a single to right, though, and stole second a couple pitches later. Grichuk, the next bater, struck out on a wild pitch that got well past Zunino. He reached first and would have been safe, but Biggio got greedy and tried to steal home on the play. Fairbanks covered the plate and got him easily. It wasn’t a very close play. Biggio doesn’t make many miscalculations on the basepaths (he’s still never been caught stealing in the big leagues), but this was a big one, and it cost the Jays a good opportunity.

Martinez lead off the bottom of the seventh by bouncing a ball into the hole at short. Panik played it, but couldn’t get enough on the throw. Font got Adames to pop up in foul territory, and Hernandez made a pretty nice play to run it down. Wendle also flew out, but after a long battle Font walked Margot to put men on first and second with two out. After an awful start to the season, Font has given up a run in only one of his last eight appearances, with four hits and one walk against nine strikeouts over six innings in that span. Montoyo went back to his bullpen, calling Julian Merryweather to face Tsutsugo. He got him looking on a 97mph fastball painted on the lower inside corner.

John Curtiss started the eighth for the Rays. Shaw lined a ball hard to right, but directly at Brandon Lowe playing as a fourth outfielder. Hernandez grounded out, also to Lowe, who was now playing on the left hand side of the second base bag on the infield shift. Lowe stayed shifted to face Guerrero, who crushed a ground ball right between the second baseman’s legs for a single. Tellez grounded out, this time to Brosseau at the first base bag, to end the inning.

Merryweather came back out for the eighth and continued to look very good. He froze Zunino on a nasty slider down and away, then after walking Brosseau he got Austin Meadows (pinch hitting for Renfroe) to chase a changeup away. Lowe flied out sharply to end the inning.

Facing Jalen Beeks to lead off the ninth, Guriel took his second walk of the night. Those were just his fourth and fifth walks in 95 PA on the year. He’ll never be a guy who works walks, but it’s nice to see him accept one when the pitcher’s trying to give it to him. Any points he gained for that little display of baseball savvy were erased when he got himself caught in a rundown a moment later. Luckily, the Rays botched one of the relay throws and he made it safely back to first. After failing to bunt, Panik hit a hard grounder to Brosseau at first, who was able to touch the bag and throw to Adames at second, who tagged Gurriel out to complete the double play. Beeks struck out McGuire to end the inning.

Montoyo stuck with Merryweather to try to send it to extras. He walked Martinez, then got Adames and Wendle to pop out before being lifted for Anthony Bass. Merryweather has impressed me in his appearances so far. Tonight, the fastball, slider, and curve all looked like weapons and he was locating pretty well.

Santiago Espinal was inserted into the game to run for Reese McGuire. Biggio opened the tenth by working a walk off Anthony Banda. Randal Grichuk flied out, and then Shaw grounded to first for the Jays’ second inning-ending 3-6 double play in a row.

The speedy Manuel Margot was the Rays’ ghost runner. He advanced to third on a groundout by Tsutsugo. The Blue Jays walked Ji-Man Choi (hitting for Zunino), leading the Rays to bring in Kevin Kiermaier to hit for Brosseau. Kiermaier lined Bass’s first pitch to left to drive Margot home and walk the Jays off.

Jays of the Day: Merryweather (0.258 WPA) and Ryu (0.132) had the number, and while Font was a little short (0.090), he deserves it for handling the heart of the Rays order very effectively. Biggio (0.323) had an excellent night (1-3 with two walks) and was the only hitter to get the number. I’ll give Gurriel (0.93) the nod as well for just the fifth multi-walk game of his career.

Suckage: Bass (-0.295), Grichuk (-0.196), Shaw (-.349), Panik (-0.188), and McGuire (-0.192) all had the number, and Guerrero and Tellez (-0.090 each) were close. Honestly, though, no one player was really terrible tonight. Subtracting the intentional walk, Bass allowed 1 single among four batters faced, and except for Grichuk every hitter reached base during the game. I think this one goes down to mediocre efforts across the offense combined with bad sequencing more than any one guy’s failure.

There were 390 comments in the game thread tonight. EMK19 lead us to a valiant defeat.

# Commenter # Comments
1 EMK19 56
2 Minor Leaguer 50
3 radivel 48
4 Belisarius 42
5 Link Floyd 37
6 FlipDown Shades 36
7 Matt W 26
8 DangYouToHeck 25
9 Tom Dakers 21
10 lalalaprise 13
11 Drinkin' Wit' Terrell Farley 11

Trent Thornton will take on lefty Josh Fleming, making his MLB debut, tomorrow at 1:10pm ET. The game will be broadcast on SportsNet One, East, Ontario, West, and Pacific.