It looked like it was all going to fall apart. Aaron Sanchez cruised through seven hitless innings on a cold night in Baltimore, on only a few occasions even allowing the Orioles to get hard contact on a ball. But, just like that, the no-hit bid was ended on a double by Tim Beckham and the game was suddenly hanging in the balance.
Anthony Santander then hit a single to put runners on the corners and Chance Sisco tied the game with a double. Things were coming unravelled quickly. The holy shit we’re going to no-hit the Trash Birds, within moments, dissipated into holy shit we aren’t going to get a win here.
Scrolling through twitter, the armchair managers were complaining about how John Gibbons didn’t have a reliever ready to yank Sanchez. Others were annoyed that the advent of using a closer meant Roberto Osuna wouldn’t be used in this Moment of Truth situation. I mean, I’m not just shitting on everyone else here, I was worried about the leash that Gibbons was giving Sanchez too.
Trey Mancini stepped to the plate. The game was 1-1. Nobody was out. There were runners on second and third. Mancini had been the only Orioles all game to really get the barrel on the ball. But Sanchez got him to fly out to shallow centre. After that, he intentionally walked Manny Machado to load the bases for Jonathan Schoop. He got Schoop to ground out into the inning-ending double play. Curtis Granderson then hit a bomb in the ninth and Roberto Osuna closed the game and everyone went home happy.
John Gibbons had an excellent quote after the game in regards to that eighth inning.
“That’s what the real good ones do. They find a way to get out of that and keep it tied.”
I think Gibbons deserves a lot of credit for what happened last night. Sanchez is still a young pitcher and, realistically, this was the best game he had tossed in nearly two years. He’s evolving into this team’s ace and navigating through a situation with this kind of adversity is important for his development as an elite pitcher.
Had Gibbons quickly got somebody up and warming after the no-hitter was ended by Beckham, he’d be sending a pretty terrible message to Sanchez. Not only would he be standing on the mound with a guy on second and the no-no killed, he would be hearing a guy throwing in the ‘pen behind him, which screams “my manager doesn’t think I can fucking pull this off.”
Gibbons showed faith in his pitcher, and Sanchez, in turn, rewarded his manager. It was a call that very easily could have gone south. Sanchez could have allowed a couple more runs and the Jays could have lost the game and we could all be sitting around the water cooler angrily doubting his ability to make a difficult decision.
But, Gibby, being the player’s manager he is, showed exactly why the players love playing for him. Sometimes it’ll work, sometimes it won’t, but I think there’s something to be said for letting players work through learning experiences that are integral to their development.
Gibby The Best pic.twitter.com/pqgVQy4HkN— Blue Jays Nation (@thejaysnation) April 11, 2018