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Photo Credit: © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Another bullpen meltdown results in the Blue Jays splitting the two-game series in Philly

Last night’s game was exciting in its own way. The Blue Jays and the Phillies combined for 29 runs, Jackie Bradley Jr. homered, and position players pitched. Tonight, it was a pitcher’s duel for seven innings, followed by the Blue Jays blowing a late 3-0 lead.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia ended up winning tonight’s contest 4-3, as Matt Vierling capped off a 5-for-5 night with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning. Jordan Romano blew his second consecutive save, the first time in his career that that has happened, and Yimi Garcia continued to show some concerning signs as the bullpen couldn’t back up a great start from Kevin Gausman.

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So, how did we get there?

The game seemed in hand in the 8th inning for the Blue Jays, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. smoked a 3-run home run off of Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez to give Toronto a 3-0 lead. No one had scored through the first seven innings of the game, but Guerrero Jr. quickly ended that trend with his 30th home run, now only 12 RBIs shy of a 30-100 season. Guerrero also drove his hitting streak to 14 games, amidst what most would call a “slump” considering how much he is hitting the ball on the ground.

If you’re in for a good laugh, Guerrero absolutely deflated the emotions of the Phillies’ broadcasters with that home run…

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The laughs wouldn’t last for long, as the Blue Jays could not put up a 0 to follow the electric top of the frame. Garcia gave up three runs in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game at 3. Although charged to Garcia, Romano allowed the third run of that inning to ultimately tie the game. It came off of a slider hit by Kyle Schwarber, the pitch that the Orioles had gotten a hold of during Sunday’s blown save. Looping back to Garcia, he has given up at least one run in four of his last six outings, so hopefully he can just get all of that out before October.

Romano pitched a clean 9th, sending the game to extras. The Blue Jays would load the bases in the 10th with one out, but Teoscar Hernandez lined into an unlucky double play despite hitting the ball back up the middle at 105 mph.

Adam Cimber came out for the bottom of the 10th, and he struggled with control as he loaded the bases himself, ultimately allowing Vierling to walk off the game. Having not pitched in a few days, you’d think that Anthony Bass was in play for tonight’s high leverage innings. However, he was not used tonight, raising some questions about his availability.

The bullpen has been so good for the last two months, so they were probably due a fumbled outing. But considering the aforementioned problems, hopefully this just turns out to be an anomaly.

As previously mentioned, the late-inning drama took away from a fantastic start from Kevin Gausman. Gausman threw six innings of shutout baseball, only allowing five hits and two walks versus eight strikeouts. Gausman’s night included 0-for-3 performances from both Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper. Why is this important? Schwarber came into tonight 3-for-5 against Gausman, with all three hits being home runs. Harper, on the other hand, had posted an 8-for-15 record against Gausman for his career. Gausman kept those two bats quiet, a huge key to his stellar night.

Toronto’s prize for losing a heartbreaker? A four game series at the Trop! Tampa Bay also lost tonight, so the Blue Jays still hold a two game lead over the Rays in the Wild Card race. No starter has been named for the Rays, but Jose Berrios will get the ball in Game 1. Thankfully, this kicks off the last series of the regular season against the Rays.

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