The Toronto Blue Jays lose 6-5 to Boston in a game marked by errors by both teams, both physical and mental.
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Early signs were not positive. In the top of the first, with the bases loaded, Rowdy Tellez hit a rocket 297 feet to centre field. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., on third, was slow getting back to third to tag up and so was unable to score. The next batter, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., struck out to end the inning. The Jays led 1-0, but it could have been more. Spoiler alert – one more run would have helped.
Bottom of the first, Alex Verdugo hit a bullet off the green monster in left field. But the Jays got the ball back in to Semien so quickly that Verdugo was clearly caught in a rundown between first and second. Caught, that is, until Marcus bounced the ball to Rowdy at first. So instead of 2 out, nobody on base, it was 1 out, man on third. Ross Stripling got the next two outs and Verdugo did not score, but you had the feeling that it was going to be a flub-full night.
Cavan Biggio led off the top of the second with a groundout. Reese McGuire followed with a 354 foot double to deep left centre. One batter later, with two outs, Bo Bichette singled to centre. McGuire was running on contact, and was able to score. Bo alertly took second on the throw home. Garrett Richards walked Vladdy, but Bo scored on a Teoscar Hernandez single. Jays 3-0.
Top of the sixth, with the Jays up 3-1 (Boston had a solo home run from Bobby Dalbec in the third) Semien’s long single off the green monster chased Garrett Richards. Hirokazu Sawamura got Bo to line out to centre, but (with two outs) Vladdy hit a 96 mph fastball 443 feet over the monster for a two-run, no-doubter home run. A single, double, and home run for Vladdy so far in the game. That homer gave Vladdy the major league lead league in home runs and in RBIs, to go with his lead in wOBA, wRC+, and WAR. Jays 5-1.
Bottom of the sixth, with Ross Stripling at only 60 pitches, Alex Verdugo hit a leadoff double under Lourdes’ glove (sigh). Stripling got J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, but Hunter Renfroe hit a single to left centre, scoring Verdugo. Jays 5-2. A single from Christian Vasquez put runners on first and third with two out and chased Ross Stripling. Tyler Chatwood came in, and promptly hit Christian Arroyo to load the bases. Chatwood then walked Marwin Gonzalez on four straight pitches to force in a run. Jays 5-3. A wild pitch on Dalbec, and it was 5-4. Chatwood then hit Dalbec – his second hit batter of the inning – to re-load the bases. Goodbye Chatwood, hello Tim Mayza, who mercifully got the final out on a Kiké Hernández tap-back to the mound. End of 6 innings, Jays (somehow?) still had a 5-4 lead.
An unfortunate night for Ross Stripling, whose final line was an unflattering 4 earned runs in 5.2 innings. He pitched better, and deserved better. But at least, at this point, he still had a chance at the win. There will undoubtedly be questions asked about the decision to pull him – at only 83 pitches – rather than let him face Arroyo (Boston’s #7 hitter).
Top of the 7th, Randall Grichuk led off with a single. After a Rowdy strikeout, Lourdes hit a double (later re-scored as a single + a base on the throw) high off the green monster that should have scored Randall easily. But Alex Verdugo earned an early Oscar award nomination by acting as if he was going to catch the ball. Randall held up, and accordingly only managed to get to third. Men on second and third, one out, and the Boston infield playing in to cut off the run at home plate. But Biggio struck out, and Riley Adams (pinch-hitting for McGuire) did the same. Still Jays 5-4.
Top of the 8th, Marcus Semien led off with a single off Garrett Whitlock (who Boston claimed from the Yankees as a Rule 5 pickup in 2020, and who is *dealing* with a 1.86 ERA in 17 appearances in 2021) but was picked off first trying to steal. So much for Marcus’ perfect 8-for-8 in steal attempts in 2021.
Bottom of the 8th, the Jays had a decision to make. Should they use Rafael Dolis for the 8th and Jordan Romano (if still leading) in the 9th? That is what they did in the first game of the doubleheader against Cleveland on May 30. They won that game, but lost the second game of the double-header when neither of their top arms were available (and Tyler Chatwood melted down). Or should they try to squeeze one more inning out of Carl Edwards Jr., so they could save Dolis or Romano for later in the series? This time they decided to gamble. The result? A Christian Arroyo solo home run, and the game is tied 5-5. So much for Stripling’s win.
Leading off the ninth, Teoscar hit a grounder to third that should have been the first out. But Rafael Devers’ errant throw pulled Dalbec off first base. Man on first, nobody out. Grichuk flew out to centre, but Tellez hit a 109 mph liner to right to put runners on first and third. With Jonathan Davis pinch-running for Rowdy, Lourdes ran the count full before chasing a high pitch well out of the zone. Davis stole second on the play, prompting Boston to walk Biggio – loading the bases – to face rookie Riley Adams. No pressure for Riley – bases loaded, game tied, top of the 9th inning, in a key divisional match. Adams hit an easy pop on foul territory that should have ended the inning, but it popped out of Dalbec’s glove. Were the baseball gods finally smiling on Toronto? Sadly, no – Adams hit a weak grounder to short, ending the inning.
Bottom of the 9th, Dolis pitching. Hernández hits a grounder to Bo, who throws wide to Lourdes (now playing first with Tellez out of the game). Error on Bo, Hernández on second, nobody out. One batter later, a Verdugo single brings in the winning run.
Final score, in a comedy of errors (Boston’s 23rd come-from-behind win): Boston 6, Toronto 5
The bottom line
Yet another game the Jays should have won, but didn’t.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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A Jays fan since pre-Series, Jim’s biggest baseball regret is that he did not play hooky with his buddies on 7 Apr 77. But hearing “Fanfare For The Common Man” played from a rooftop on 24 Oct 92 helped him atone.