It is only a matter of time until a questionable closing situation eventually catching up with a team. Even team in the AL East should have won on Friday, but Casey Janssen‘s latest ninth inning debacle cost the Toronto Blue Jays a crucial game.
Baltimore Orioles 12, St. Louis Cardinals 2
This game was a fun time to be an Orioles hitter. Every player in the lineup came through with at least one hit, and five different players went deep. J.J. Hardy led the way, going 2 for 3 with 2 homers, 4 RBI, and 3 runs scored. Surprisingly, that outburst gave him just six home runs on the season–apparently his rough year has been overlooked to an extent because the rest of the offense has been playing so well. In fact, Hardy is just one homer ahead of Ryan Flaherty, who drilled his sixth long-ball in this game. Also slamming a homer were Manny Machado (his 12th), Adam Jones (22nd), and Chris Davis (20th). The Orioles knocked out Justin Masterson after just 3+ innings before getting 4 more runs against Nick Greenwood and another 3 off Sam Freeman. Then, under the category of “irrelevant to the context of the game, but always nice,” Chris Tillman delivered a strong start, going 6.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. The Orioles are on fire and continue to pull away in the AL East.
New York Yankees 10, Cleveland Indians 6
This game can also be described as an offensive outburst, but the Yankees’ rally was much more necessary than the Orioles. Esmil Rogers was solid in his first Yankees start, going 5 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. He departed with a 5-1 lead after the Yankees tagged Trevor Bauer for 5 runs in the first inning, including RBIs from Carlos Beltran and trade deadline acquisitions Chase Headley, Stephen Drew, and Martin Prado. But then the Yankees’ middle relief corps completely fell apart, with David Huff allowing 1 run in the sixth before Shawn Kelley allowed 4 more in the seventh. Luckily for New York, Beltran had one more big swing in him, drilling a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth to ensure that Kelley’s rough game was not too significant. More relevant to future games is going to be the injury that Brian McCann suffered, a mild concussion that forced him to leave in that same sixth inning.
Detroit Tigers 5, Toronto Blue Jays 4
Everything was going right for the Blue Jays in the first eight innings of this game. They received a great start from R.A. Dickey, who allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings of work, and Dustin McGowan and Brett Cecil tossed an inning each of perfect relief behind him. The offense wasn’t flashy, but it scored 4 runs on RBIs from Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Danny Valencia, and Ryan Goins in the first two innings, and they never let the game get closer than 4-2. Then the ninth inning began, and everything fell apart. With one out, Casey Janseen allowed back-to-back home runs to the Tigers’ eighth and ninth hitters, Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez, to give Detroit a 5-4 lead. Joe Nathan did make things sketchy in the bottom of the ninth, allowing 2 hits and a walk, but the Blue Jays offense simply could not get a run to respond as they lost the game 5-4.
It is not as though this was an isolated bad game from Janssen–he now has a 7.94 ERA in 13 appearances and 11.1 innings pitched since July 6th. He hasn’t walked anyone–just two batters in that timespan–but he is missing no bats at all (4 K’s) and has allowed 5 home runs. When will the Blue Jays finally replace him in the closer role? Well, they would have sooner if they had a better option. Brett Cecil has fallen back to earth this season, managing a 4.19 ERA with a scary 5.5 walks per 9 innings. Neither Dustin McGowan nor Aaron Loup has a strikeout-to-walk ratio better than 2-to-1, and Todd Redmond has pitched well, but only as a long reliever. Chad Jenkins, meanwhile, has pitched well, but while striking out just 4.3 batters per 9. The best choice may be Aaron Sanchez, but the rookie right-hander is still learning the ropes of the big leagues. Not acquiring a late-inning arm at the trade deadline is looking like a fatal mistake for the Blue Jays, and we will have to see if they make a move via waivers.
Tampa Bay Rays 4, Chicago Cubs 3 (10 innings)
Boston Red Sox 4, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2
Receiving a chance thanks to the myriad trades made by the Red Sox, Allen Webster beat Jered Weaver as the Red Sox won for just the fourth time in their last 16 games. Webster went 6.2 innings allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. He was supported by a Dustin Pedroia RBI single, a Yoenis Cespedes two-run double, and a Mike Napoli solo home run, and he didn’t need anything more. Weaver, meanwhile, allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings in the loss. Both bullpens were excellent after the starters departed, but the Red Sox had the lead and kept it, with Koji Uehara finishing off the game for his 24th save. Uehara has been more hittable this season compared to last, but only by a small margin, managing a 1.37 ERA and a 66-7 strikeout to walk ratio in 52.2 innings pitched.
It isn’t too often that three different AL East teams will have bullpen problems in the same day, but that’s exactly what happened on Friday. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, only Casey Janssen’s rough outing cost them the game. Here are the latest standings followed by the schedule of games for Saturday.
1. Baltimore (66-49) –
2. New York (61-54) 5.0 GB
3. Toronto (61-56) 6.0 GB
4. Tampa Bay (56-59) 10.0 GB
5. Boston (51-64) 15.0 GB
1:05 PM- Yankees (Brandon McCarthy) vs. Indians (Corey Kluber)
1:07 PM- Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman) vs. Tigers (Max Scherzer)
4:05 PM- Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) vs. Cardinals (John Lackey
4:05 PM- Rays (Jake Odorizzi) @ Cubs (Edwin Jackson)
9:05 PM- Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Angels (Clayton Richards)