Toronto Blue Jays strand loaded bases twice in frustrating 4-3 loss to Cleveland Guardians
Photo credit:Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing1 month ago
The Toronto Blue Jays’ inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position continued to ail them Thursday dropping a 4-3 decision to the Cleveland Guardians.
And it’s not for lack of opportunity.
Toronto got on the scoreboard first in the game in thanks to an RBI single from Santiago Espinal in the top of the second, but that lead didn’t last long. In the bottom of the frame Jose Tena drove in a run off a single, and Brayan Rocchio doubles to drive in another as the Guardians took a 2-1 lead.
They would build on it in the bottom of the fifth off another Rocchio double that drove in a run chasing Alek Manoah from the game and followed up with Kole Calhoun driving in a run on a ground out to make it a 4-1 game.
Credit where it’s due to the Guardians, who wore down Manoah all afternoon. Through his four innings, he tossed 93 pitches — just 42 of which found the strike zone — allowing four earned runs off four hits and three walks. He also fanned six batters. Control was clearly an issue for the Big Puma.
The opportunities the Jays had can’t be lost, either, with the Jays loading the bases on two occasions from that point in the game forward.
The first was in the top of the sixth which saw George Springer double and then steal third, Danny Jansen get hit by a pitch, and Davis Schneider take a 10th pitch ball to load them up. The only problem? The Jays already had two outs and Triple-A callup Nathan Lukes was at the plate, who grounded into a force out swinging on a slider that was on the outside of the zone.
It took Bowden Francis seven pitches to retire the Guardians’ side in the bottom of the sixth, allowing the Jays to get back into a formidable position in the top of the seventh.
Whit Merrifield drove in Cavan Biggio with a double, to cut the lead to two, then a line drive single from Brandon Belt brought home Merrifield. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would walk to reach bringing George Springer to the plate.
He, however, would take a seventh pitch below the strike zone that should’ve seen him reach first on a walk, but instead, home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak called it a strike. Visibly displeased, Springer argued the call and was ejected which landed manager John Schneider in a similar position a moment later.
A Matt Chapman single would get him on first base to load them up as Kirk came to the plate with just one out. Battling with reliever Tyler Stephan, he would pop out on the 10th pitch he saw, and Schneider would strike out swinging to end the inning.
No Blue Jay would reach in the eighth or ninth, and this one was all wrapped up in a tidy bow that saw the Jays strand 10 runners on base by the end of the game.
Watching the Jays continuously be unable to drive in runs in key moments of games is becoming nothing short of exhausting.
Despite a .749 OPS that ranks 9th among all big league clubs, when the Jays have runners in scoring position, that number plummets to a putrid .685. Only two teams’ OPS with RISP is worse: the Kansas City Royals (.670) and the Oakland Athletics (.661).
For a team that has aspirations of a deep playoff run in October and into November, numbers like this are quite simply unacceptable, doubly so given no team in the major leagues has a better team ERA than that of the Jays.
The Blue Jays now head home to host the Chicago Cubs on a three-game weekend set.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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