Blue Jays Rally to Force Extras; But Fall in Thirteenth

Toronto Blue Jays rally to force extra innings, but fail to capitalize late. Stellar bullpen performance ruined in the thirteenth

On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco, the Blue Jays sent Marcus Stroman to mound in search of his fifth win of 2016. Toronto were looking to win the last game of a series for the first time this year, a win that would also clinch their first series sweep.

San Francisco countered with their staff ace Madison Bumgarner who came in having won his last three decisions, and looking to end the Giants three game losing streak.

Stroman’s start was a battle from the beginning today. The young right-hander looked uncharacteristically inefficient, but he certainly wasn’t helped out by the strikes and ball calls on this afternoon. The umpire appeared to struggle with the movement of Stroman’s pitches in the lower part of the zone, thus putting the pitcher in unfavourable counts during key situations.

In addition, Toronto’s defense didn’t do much to help along the way. A trio of misplayed balls – only one an official error – helped tack on two unearned runs in the second and fifth innings. In all, his final line on the day of 6 IP, 8H, 4R, 2ER, 2BB, 5BB was a quality start and would have been better with the usually reliable Blue Jays defense.

The Giants offense broke through after a Troy Tulowitzki error – his second this series – allowed Conor Gillaspie to reach first. The play was originally called an out, however it was overturned on replay. With a two on and no outs, instead of a one on, one out situation, a Gregor Blanco double to the right field corner scored Brandon Crawford and allowed Gillaspie to reach third, who would eventually score on a Denard Span RBI ground out to give San Francisco a 2-0 lead after two innings.

San Francisco loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning on Stroman with two consecutive singles and a walk. Giants’ catcher Buster Posey drove in a run when his hard hit ground ball resulted in a well turned double play. With the Giants now up 3-1, Hunter Pence hit a first pitch fastball over the head of Kevin Pillar to drive in Joe Panik to stretch the lead to three runs, 4-1.

Toronto’s offense scuttled along most of the afternoon against Bumgarner. Despite gathering three hits and four base on balls, they were only able to push a single run against the former World Series MVP.  It wasn’t until the eighth inning when the Blue Jays capitalized on the shaky Giants bullpen with two runs on three hits and a hit batter off relievers Corey Gearrin and Josh Osich, including a big two-out hit from Justin Smoak.

The Blue Jays’ eighth inning rally helped to set up some ninth inning dramatics when Michael Saunders took Giants’ closer Casilla deep for a home run to tie the score 4-4.

Toronto’s struggling bullpen was excellent on this day. The combination of Chad Girodo (0.2 IP, 7th), Joe Biagini (0.1 IP, 7th) Jesse Chavez (2.0 IP, 8th & 9th), Drew Storen (1 IP, 10th) Gavin Floyd (2.0 IP, 11th, 12th) worked six effective innings of shutout baseball to keep the Blue Jays in this game.

Unfortunately, it all unravelled in the thirteenth on Ryan Tepera when he hit Brandon Belt to start the inning. A botched force out at second base on a sac-bunt attempt, followed by a walk, loaded the bases with no outs. A line out to first base gave Tepera a chance to get out of the inning, but a four pitch walk to Buster Posey ended any such hope, along with the game.

Play of the Game:

Outfielder Michael Saunders, who started this game on the bench, came to the plate in the top of the ninth with the Blue Jays 4-3. He changed that in a hurry when he dropped a Santiago Casilla pitch over the centerfield wall for a game tying home run.

Game Ball:

Today’s game ball goes to Josh Donaldson. Not only did he end his day with four hits, one walk, and two runs. He also started one of the sweetest 5-4-3 double plays we have seen this season.

Turning Point:

The turning point came late – the thirteenth inning – in this game.  Toronto coughed up a chance to push across the go ahead run despite collecting three hits in the inning. In true baseball fashion San Francisco put together a rally to score the winning run, oddly enough, without the aid of a single base hit.

News & Notes:

Blue Jays’ reliever Franklin Morales who was sent to the disabled list earlier this season still has no time-table for return. Toronto’s hands are tied with this matter as they are unable to release him while he is on the DL. As Shi Davidi states his $2 million contract becomes guaranteed on May 18th.

Toronto’s other lefty on the disabled list threw an inning at extended spring training earlier today. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow. If all is fine he will begin a rehab assignment with Dunedin.

Next Game:

The Blue Jays have an off day on Thursday, and will be travelling to Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers for a three game set over the weekend. Check in the Jays From the Couch for our series updates.

 

 

*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III – UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0

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