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Bullpen Founders Again, Rays win 10-6

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Well, more Trop stuff happened. The offence actually showed up tonight, but the pitching was bad again, especially the bullpen. This is a really concerning trend after it seemed like they’d pulled things together after the all star break.

I’ve seen a lot of people arguing that we want the Jays in the third wildcard, preferring to go to Cleveland rather than host the Rays. Tonight shows the downside of a plan like that: the Mariners are reeling, having gone 1-3 and 1-2 in series against the Angels and A’s, and opened a series against the Royals with another loss. That means losing is likely to just lock the Jays into the second wildcard spot, booking a trip back to this hellhole of a stadium.

The Jays offence got off to a slow start against Jeffrey Springs. They got two men into scoring position in the first four innings, one on a Bo Bichette single and steal of second in the first and another on a Whit Merrifield leadoff double in the second, but weren’t able to cash either in.

Meanwhile, the Rays were able to chip away at Mitch White, with the help of a bit of luck in terms of balls finding holes, to build a 3-0 lead. In the first, they strung together a Harold Ramirez walk, a Wander Franco double into the left field corner, a Randy Arozarena fielder’s choice groundout to score one, and a Manny Margot bunt single to score another. In the fourth, they tacked on one more with an Isaac Paredes double high off the left field wall and another high off the wall in right centre by Christian Bethancourt. That would be it for White. He gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in four innings, striking out two. With a bit of luck it could easily have gone better, but he also gave up his share of hard contact.

The Jays offence finally got involved in the top of the fifth. Teoscar Hernandez lead off with a double off the right field wall and came home to score on a Raimel Tapia double to centre left. Danny Jansen worked a walk and Bo Bichette hit a ground ball single through the left side to score Tapia and send Jansen to third, and then Vladimir Guerrero jr. ripped a low liner right over the second base bag that Miles Mastrobuoni couldn’t handle, which brought the tieing run home and sent Bichette to third:

Alejandro Kirk hit what should have been a routine inning ending ground out to third, but a bad throw from Paredes pulled Johnathan Aranda off the first base bag, allowing Kirk to just barely reach and bringing in Bo as the go-ahead, 4-3.

Unfortunately, the bullpen immediately gave the lead right back to the Rays. Tim Mayza got Aranda swinging to lead off, but Ramirez reached on a ground ball single, and Franco worked a walk to put two on. Sensing danger, John Schneider called for Anthony Bass. As it turned out, that was a mistake, as Randy Arozarena lined one just fair and juuust over the right field wall for a three run homer, 6-4:

The offence fought back in the sixth against reliever Colin Poche. Hernandez lead off again, this time with a walk and Tapia reached on a ground ball single. After a Merrifield strikeout, the rays went to Jason Adam to face Danny Jansen. Jansen hit a ground ball single through the left side that Arozarena bobbled, allowing Hernandez to score and the other two runners to reach second and third. A George Springer sac fly brought Tapia in to tie it at 6.

Adam Cimber worked the next couple innings and held well, facing the minimum. Javy Guerra handled the seventh and eighth for Tampa and did the same.

The Jays’ bullpen woes reappeared in the bottom of the eighth. Yimi Garcia walked pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi (who was lifted for pinch runner Taylor Walls). Walls moved to third on a Mastrobuoni ground ball single and scored on a David Peralta sac fly. It was shallow, but Hernandez’ throw to the plate was off line, 7-6. That was enough, as it turned out, but the Rays added plenty of insurance. After striking out Jose Siri, Garcia intentionally walked Aranda. Bo Bichette completely whiffed on a routine grounder by Ramirez, scoring Mastrobuoni. Franco hit an infield single to load the bases, and Randy Arozarena cleared them with a single off the left field wall.

The offence wasn’t able to mound another comeback. Rays closer Pete Fairbanks walked Springer, but struck out Bichette (who looked like he may have strained his back on a checked swing) and Guerrero and got Kirk to ground out to end the game.

Jays of the Day: Cimber (0.150), Tapia (0.140), Jansen (0.215). Bichette has the number but I’m not giving him one after that error.

Suckage: White (-0.174), Bass (-0.356), Garcia (-0.392), Springer (-0.143)

Game three gets going tomorrow at 6:10pm ET. Alek Manoah (14-7, 2.40) will take on Drew Rasmussen (10-6, 2.92). That one feels like a must win to keep the dream of the first wildcard alive, so we’ll need Manoah to come up big like he has so many times this year.