Blue Jays blow another late lead in 7-5 loss to Angels: Griffin
ANAHEIM-If a casual observer was to simply examine the Blue Jays' day-by-day record over the past nine days, it might seem the club is at least bouncing back slightly, but after Friday's 7-5 loss to the Angels, in a game the Jays led after seven innings, there remains an air of gloom, of resignation surrounding the club. They are realistically out of any playoff contention and now must regroup and play hard for the final two months as GM Alex Anthopoulos assesses who will be his revised core group..
Despite the Jays winning five of the last nine games, the starting rotation, other than Mark Buehrle and sometimes R.A. Dickey continues to struggle to get deep into games. Over the past two losses, starters Josh Johnson and Todd Redmond managed to combine for just six innings, allowing 10 runs on 17 hits. That has meant 10 innings in two nights for an overworked bullpen.
“Every loss is tough," manager John Gibbons said. "We're in a position to win going into the eighth inning and they came back and beat us. Bam, bam, bam. Then you move on."
On Friday it was Aaron Loup, Neil Wagner and Steve Delabar given the assignment for the final 16 outs. They made it to 13. Delabar, who entered the game on a run of six straight strikeouts, allowed an eighth-inning double to Chris Nelson, a triple to J.B. Shuck and a homer that broke the tie by Kole Calhoun, the first of his career. Calhoun, Shuck and Nelson combined for 10 of the Angels' 14 hits on the night. The Jays' bullpen is now 24-19 as a group while the starters have combined to go 26-40.
“I just wanted to get strike one," Delabar said of the man on second, nobody out. "It was a bunt situation and I just threw one right over the plate and he crushed it. It just wasn't there tonight. You take some positives out of it. I did make some pitches with runners in scoring position. And you focus on some of the negatives and move past it because I've got to be ready tomorrow if I'm called on.
“We battled back and took the lead and that's where I feel bad. Then I come in and make a few bad pitches and all of a sudden it switches to the other team. We've been battling the whole year so it's one of those things where we've just got to keep battling."
The Jays had the unusual distinction of scoring twice in the first four innings and not leaving any runners on base, despite six baserunners, on four singles and two walks. Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie singled back-to-back with two outs in the second. The ball was in the hands of third baseman Chris Nelson who fired across the diamond in an attempt to pick off Lawrie. The errant throw allowed Rasmus to hustle home, with Lawrie thrown out trying to advance to second base.
In the fourth inning, Maicer Izturis led off with a walk. Then came one of the best outfield catches of the year. Jose Bautista hit a high, deep flyball to left that appeared to be coming straight down into the second row of seats, but the left fielder, Shuck leaped upwards and backwards, catching the ball before tumbling completely into the stands for the out. Because Shuck left the field of play, Izturis was awarded second base from where he scored on an Edwin Encarnacion single for a 2-0 lead.
Catcher Chris Ianetta in those four innings threw out three Jays runners attempting to steal, Emilio Bonifacio and Jose Reyes in the third and Encarnacion to end the fourth.
Redmond in his last start had dominated the Astros at the Rogers Centre, but on this night, after carrying a two-run lead into the botton of the fourth and retiring the first two Angels, his night deteriorated quickly. He drilled Erick Aybar in the right leg to open the floodgates.
Aybar stole second and scored on a single by Nelson. Two batters later, Ianetta stroked a deep flyball for a double off the fence in centre field with Rasmus making a leaping attempt. The Angels added another run in the fifth on a second RBI single by Nelson off Aaron Loup.
The Jays fought back in the sixth against starter Tommy Hanson. Bonifacio led off with a single to left and Reyes slammed his seventh homer of the season to right field, up and over the out-of-town scoreboard, tying the game at fours.
“It is what it is," Reyes said of the loss and the overworked bullpen. "We cannot worry about what starting pitching does. I can control my job. I come here to help the ballclub win a lot of ballgames. I can't afford to do the job of somebody else. I come here with the right attitude every day and do for this ballclub the best that I can. We just need to continue to fight out there because it's not getting any easier."
The Jays took the lead in the same inning, as Rasmus grounded what looked like an inning ending double play to Howie Kendrick with the bases loaded. The second baseman fumbled the ball in his glove and only managed the forceout at second base with Bautista scoring the go-ahead run.
Meanwhile, injured left fielder Melky Cabrera underwent an inconclusive MRI in Anaheim and will fly to Florida for further examination of the meniscus in his left knee. After the game, Redmond was optioned to AAA-Buffalo in order to add another bullpen ar, The Jays recalled righthander Brad Lincoln and are now armed with a nine-man bullpen. They will need another starter on Wednesday in Seattle. There's a chance it could be J.A. Happ.
The series continues on Saturday as the Jays are 2-3 on the road trip, halfway through.