Atlanta 5 @ Blue Jays 6 (10 innings)
The loud Atlanta fans in the stands in Dunedin left the ballpark unhappy, with their team getting walked off by the Blue Jays in extra innings, 6-5.
Travis Bergen opened the game and faced the minimum in the top of the first inning before Tommy Milone, who was briefly with Atlanta last season, took over to cover the bulk innings. Unfortunately, his stuff just didn’t pass muster tonight. In that second inning, Milone gave up three consecutive singles, loading the bases for number nine hitter Cristian Pache. Pache got his first major league home run with a solo shot in the 2020 NLCS and he got his first regular season home run with a grand slam tonight against Milone to put the Jays in an early 4-0 hole.
Alejandro Kirk led off the bottom of the third with a long foul ball to the right field corner—as he rounded first base waiting to see whether the ball would land fair or foul, he appeared to have hurt himself somehow. But he didn’t have to test his mobility, being able to walk to first on four balls. George Springer, who also looked like he may have hurt his quad in his first at bat of the game, also didn’t have to test his mobility, being able to job around the bases after hitting his first homer as a Toronto Blue Jay to cut the lead in half.
Trent Thornton came onto relieve Milone with one out in the fourth and started strong, striking out Austin Riley and Pache to end the inning. But in the next frame, Ronald Acuña Jr. led off with a line drive home run, which left the park very quickly at an exit velocity of 112.4 mph. Thornton got out of that inning just relatively unscathed but struggled in the top of the sixth, walking Pablo Sandoval and hitting Riley to get it started. After getting one out on a sac bunt, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo walked Acuña intentionally and brought in Tim Mayza to face Freddie Freeman with the bases loaded. Mayza, the fourth “T” pitcher for Toronto, managed to induce a double play to end the top of the inning.
Atlanta returned the free baserunners they got earlier by hitting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and walking Teoscar Hernández to start the bottom of the sixth. Randal Grichuk then brought in Vlad on a shallow line drive to noodle-armed Marcell Ozuna, knocking out starter Charlie Morton. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. stepped up to the plate against Edgar Santana and hugged a base hit down the line to bring in Hernández, but perplexingly, Blue Jays third-base windmill Luis Rivera sent Grichuk home, even though by the time Grichuk had rounded third, the ball was already in the hands of the relay man.
We complain a lot about Rivera’s decisions to send runners—albeit seemingly much less so far this season—but this was an inexcusable mistake. Grichuk was out by plenty.
This game saw a couple of catcher injuries. Atlanta’s Travis d’Arnaud got hurt on the Grichuk play at home, and immediately after that, the Blue Jays pulled Kirk out of the game with “left hip flexor discomfort” suffered on that foul ball. Montoyo made a rare “double-switch” move after taking Kirk out, inserting the struggling Danny Jansen into the eight spot, which just ended the previous inning, and putting Marcus Semien into the ninth spot, which would lead off the seventh.
Unfortunately Semien struck out and didn’t get a chance to show off how smart his manager was. But that was quickly forgotten when George Springer stepped up to the plate and slammed a game-tying 470-foot—I’d like to repeat that the baseball was hit four hundred seventy feet—homer off of Atlanta reliver Luke Jackson into the elementary school beyond the left field fence.
The game went into extras and Jordan Romano was brought in to pitch the top of the 10th inning. Leading off, Dansby Swanson did job and advances the placed runner to third on a deep fly ball. But Romano shut down Atlanta’s hopes by inducing a weak groundball out and then striking out the next batter to end the inning.
On the flip side, Santiago Espinal pinch ran as the placed runner, with Springer still not 100%. Bo Bichette came up and stung a line drive, but it was caught by the shortstop—thankfully, Espinal’s head was in the game and was not doubled off. Atlanta reliever Nate Jones gave Guerrero Jr. an intentional walk to face Hernández. Hernández hit a double play ball, but he beat the throw to first, partly thanks to a hustling Vlad en route to second base.
Jones then fell behind 3-1 to Biggio, who up to that point had done nothing in the game, and Atlanta called for an intentional walk to load the bases. We didn’t have much time to debate the merits of that move because Grichuk, the next batter, singled home the walkoff run for the Blue Jays.
Jays of the Day! Jordan Romano (+.484 WPA, boosted by the placed runner), Randal Grichuk (+.374), Rafael Dolis (+.140), Tyler Chatwood (+.108), and of course George Springer (+.090) gets it despite not getting the numbers.
The backend of the bullpen was just solid, like they have been all year. Mayza, Phelps, Chatwood, Dolis, and Romano combined for 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 K.
Suckage Jays: Tommy Milone (−.298), Cavan Biggio (−.152, despite the late walk).
Thank you FlipDown Shades for the title.