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Bullpen Melts Down, Phillies Win 4-3

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

That was a weird one. It was a pitcher’s duel through seven, with five pitchers between the two teams combining to allow no runs on 11 hits and four walks. Then all the sudden everyone lost their command, and between the eighth and tenth innings seven runs scored on a combined eight hits, seven walks and a hit batter. The umpiring was questionable, the balls appeared to be slippery, and the defences had their own problems. Ultimately the Jays collapsed a little harder than the Phillies.

Zack Wheeler was on a short leash tonight in his first game back from a month long IL stint for shoulder issues, but he looked like his usual self for four innings, touching 99 and baffling the Jays’ hitters. He only struck out three, but gave up very little solid contact and only two hits, both singles. It helped that the zone was three feet wide for him, especially on his last batter of the night when he rang up Matt Chapman looking on a fastball solidly two inches outside.

Unfortunately, the Blue Jays lineup didn’t have any easier of a time with the much diminished Noah Syndergaard. They managed a Raimel Tapia single in the fifth, and got a runner into scoring position for the first time of the night in the sixth on line singles by George Springer and Bo Bichette, but were unable to capitalize.

Luckily for Toronto, Kevin Gausman bounced back very well from something of a rough outing last time out in which he went seven but gave up 5 runs. He got things started by striking out the first four Phillies he faced. There was a scary moment later in the second, when Vlad Guerrero jr fielded a grounder and blew the toss to Gausman covering first, putting it behind him forcing him to make an awkward twist to catch the throw and stay out of the path of the runner. It allowed Jean Segura to reach, but more importantly it seemed to jar Gausman’s back pretty badly. He was able to stay in the game after a conversation with the trainers and some warmup pitches, striking out Nick Maton for his sixth in eight batters.

The third and fourth were uneventful, with a single stranded in each. Gausman’s first real jam of the night came in the fifth. Jean Segura walked on a pitch that was in the corner but much closer than multiple balls Wheeler got called strikes. A one out Matt Vierling soft liner just over the second base bag moved him to third, and after Gausman struck out Kyle Schwarber for his eighth of the night, a walk to Rhys Hoskins on a ball that was absolutely in the zone loaded the bases with Bryce Harper up. Gausman was able to get a soft ground ball back to him that he flipped to first to preserve the 0-0 game.

JT Realmuto singled in the sixth, advanced on a fielder’s choice, and stole third, but Gausman got out of it. His overall line was six shutout innings on 5 hits, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts, and really he was even a little better than that.

Jose Alvarado handled the top of the seventh for Philly. He walked Chapman and struck out Teoscar Hernandez to start. John Schneider inserted Danny Jansen to pinch hit for Tapia, and he laced a hard line drive to right, but right were Maton was standing. It was probably the best contact of the night to that point but it went for the second out. Cavan Biggio was brought in to hit for Santiago Espinal, who was later revealed to have left the game with ‘“left side discomfort”, and struck out. I hope Espinal is OK, but that’s a vaguely ominous description.

Tim Mayza came in for the bottom of the seventh and promptly walked pinch hitter Daulton Guthrie on four pitches. Vierling bunted a chopper back towards the mound that just flicked off the tip of Mayza’s glove, allowing him to reach and setting up another jam for the Jays. He got Schwarber to ground into a fielder’s choice, and Vlad took the out at second, leaving men on first and third, and then struck out Bohm and Harper to escape.

Facing Seranthony Dominguez, the Jays finally broke through in the eighth, with a little help. Whit Merrifield lead off with a line single to left field. Springer followed with a slow grounder to short, and slipped and fell coming out of the batter’s box. It looked like an easy double play, but Stott flipped the ball over Segura’s head at second, allowing Merrifield to go to third and Springer to get up and make it to first. That set the table for Guerrero, who launched a missile 430 feet into the left centre bleachers, putting the Jays up 3-1. After the error and two sad looking strikeouts earlier in the game, it was a big cathartic moment for the Jays’ slugger.

Dominguez walked two of the next three batters and was lifted for Nick Nelson, who walked Hernandez to load the bases, but the Jays weren’t able tk do further damage.

The bullpen coughed up the lead immediately. The first came on a leadoff home run to Realmuto off Yimi Garcia. Next, Bohm chopped one back at him that bounced off his thigh and about 20 feet towards third base. Garcia made a great play to track it and turn to make a throw back to first while going backwards for the out. Garcia struck Stott out and got a grounder from Segura, but Bichette’s throw sailed into the dugout to send Segura ti second. Guthrie brought him home one a line single up the first base line. Vierling added a single of his own on a soft liner to right, sending Guthrie to third. That promoted Schneider to call for Joran Romano to attempt the four out, one run save. He wasn’t able to do it, giving up a long single to Schwarber that scored Guthrie to tie it at 3-3. Hoskins ground to short next, and this time Bichette made the throw this time to preserve the tie.

David Robertson worked an easy ninth, erasing a walk to Merrifield with a Springer double play ball and getting Vlad to ground out. Romano responded with three quick ground outs in the bottom half.

The Jays had a good chance to take over in the tenth. Reliever Andrew Bellatti got Bichette to ground out but then walked Kirk and Chapman to load the bases. Hernandez lined a ball hard back up the middle right at the second base bag, but that allowed Segura to make a diving catch and land on the bag before Zimmer (running for Kirk) could tag to complete a double play.

Adam Cimber would take the loss. He hit Segura and walked Guthrie, then gave up a chopper up the middle to score the winning run for Philly.

Jays of the Day: Gausman (0.355), Springer (0.148), Merrifield (0.241). Romano had the number (0.124), but he wasn’t great.

Suckage: Garcia (-.200), Cimber (-.390), Kirk (-0.161), and Hernandez (-0.283)

Having wrapped up their inter-league ‘rivalry’ for the season, the Jays will head to Tampa tomorrow night to begin a four game set. Jose Berrios (11-5, 4.99) will start the opener, facing an opponent yet to be announced.