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For a team scuffling along the way the Blue Jays have so far this season, mere mention of the playoffs sounds like crazy talk.
They are a team, after all, that has had at best a share of last place in their division every day of the season and has yet to reach .500 at any point of the 2017 campaign.
Crazy talk perhaps, especially after an excruciating Tuesday night at Fenway Park, where the Blue Jays fell 5-4 to the Red Sox in 15 innings on a mammoth solo homer from Hanley Ramirez to end a long evening, night and early morning.
The team’s maddening inability to score runs bit them in the butt yet again, as did a rare blown save by all-star reliever, Roberto Osuna. And once again, this team put into question its credentials as a playoff contender.
“We need to start winning series, that’s just the reality of it,” Jays manager John Gibbons said. “From here on now, we’ve got to play really good.”
The loss evened the four-game series at a win apiece with crucial games Wednesday and Thursday. The Jays’ record fell to 43-50 and they once again are nine games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) July 19, 2017
The way this one went down, the Jays seem like a team doomed, even with a stellar effort from reliever Mike Bolsinger, the eighth and final Jays pitcher to see action. And sure enough, Ramirez ended it in dramatic fashion with a blast over the Monster that was measured at 435 feet.
“That’s the type of team we are,” said Ramirez, who jumped on Bolsinger’s hanging offering.
“That’s a tough one,” Gibbons said. “Obviously to play a game that long and to come out on the losing end, it takes a little bit out of you. But we’ve got a game tomorrow, we’ve got two more games here, focus on that and go from there.”
Speaking of crazy, this one had it all, including several opportunities for the Jays to lock it down long before the night got silly late. After taking the lead in the top of the 11th on a Ryan Goins sac fly that scored Steve Pearce from third, Osuna came to the mound with his streak of 22 consecutive saves.
Nope. After a single by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a bunt single from Sandy Leon, Mookie Betts added a single of his own scoring Bradley Jr.. Pinch-runner Xander Bogaerts was thrown out at third base on the play, but the fourth-longest save streak in club history ended.
And there was more. Plenty more.
After Bolsinger pitched a 1-2-3 12th he had a four-strikeout 13th. That’s right, Bradley Jr. was the second K of the inning, but took first on what was scored as a wild pitch on a ball that got away from catcher Russell Martin.
The 15 innings it took to play made it the longest game of the season for the Jays, surpassing the 13-inning affair in Anaheim on April 21. Factor in a one-hour rain delay and it was a long night at the storied ball park. Time of the game was four hours and 59 minutes.
“They played their hearts out man, they played their butts off,” Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We had a couple of opportunities, we couldn’t capitalize, especially early in the game.”
RUN WITH IT
The Jays’ shocking and ongoing ineptitude at scoring continues to hinder their ability to do some damage in the AL East race.
And yes, there was more of that at Fenway on Tuesday. Case in point was the eighth inning with the score tied at 3-3. Troy Tulowitzki and Steve Pearce led off with back-to-back singles.
Kevin Pillar followed with a meek ground out into a double play, and pinch-hitter Goins struck out looking. Ugh.
Runners on the corners with nobody out in a tie ball game and you can’t get a run across?
In the first inning, a leadoff Jose Bautista double went nowhere. In the second, Darwin Barney drew a walk to load the bases with one out, Bautista responded with a meek infield pop up and Martin grounded out.
The offensively explosive Jays teams of 2015 and 2016 rarely had such issues.
“I wish I had that answer,” said Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was four for seven at the plate. “Good pitching. We’ve had some guys that haven’t been themselves yet. There’s still some time, hopefully we can come through soon here and play more like ourselves.”
The bottom of the 11th was a stunner for Osuna but it also featured some bizarre bad luck as well. Most notably, the bunt single by the Leon that blooped over the head of a charging Jays third baseman, Josh Donaldson. That gave the Sox runners on first and second and Bradley Jr. came across on a Betts single to tie it at 4-4. “You come in aggressively, try to make a play,” Gibbons said. “You won’t see that too often. We almost got out of it but Mookie Betts is one of the top players in the league for a reason.” … That wasn’t the end of it for Donaldson, either. He jammed his thumb when pinch-runner Xander Bogaerts slid into third for the out to end the inning. “I’m fine. I didn’t come out of the game, I’m good,” Donaldson said afterwards … While it seemed like days earlier, Toronto starter J.A. Happ had a solid outing, allowing five hits and two runs over five plus innings of work and exited with a 3-2 lead … Don’t be surprised if Martin sits Wednesday’s game. The Jays tough-as-nails catcher was struck on his throwing hand on a foul tip. Martin remained in the game though was in some obvious discomfort.
In 10 walkoff results this season, the Jays have now lost seven … With the loss, the Jays are now 2-6 vs. the Red Sox this season. And with Baltimore’s win over Texas, Toronto has reclaimed sole possession of last in the East. They’ve never been out of at least a tie for the basement all season … The marathon on Tuesday continued an excruciating stretch for the Red Sox over the past four days that has seen them play 58 innings of ball. On Saturday, they played 16 innings vs. the Yankees before losing, and then 18 more the following day in a doubleheader with the Bronx Bombers. Add in nine vs. the Jays on Monday and 15 in this one and that’s 58 innings of baseball … After a three run fifth inning, the Jays led 3-1 but with runs in the sixth and the seventh, this one headed to extras … Boston’s Dustin Pedroia was two for seven at the plate but it was a big two. He had a solo homer in the fifth and a two-out RBI double to tie it in the seventh … Bolsinger joins Steve Delabar (August 2012) as only Blue Jays to strike out four in an inning.
SEEN AND HEARD
Checking out their home-town team for batting practice – as well as the sights and sounds of Fenway – were Maple Leaf stars Auston Matthews, Frederik Andersen and Willie Nylander. The trio waited out the rain delay and watched the game from some the prestigious bleacher seats atop the Green Monster. Without his duet partner Mitch Marner, no word if Matthews joined the Fenway faithful in the Sweet Caroline singalong in the eighth.
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