TORONTO – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is like a cheat code right now.
Seriously, who fires up a 0-2 fastball from the usually obnoxious Hirokazu Sawamura that sprints up and in at 96.1 mph and tosses it 443 feet to center left? His last impressive drive put the bat down at 111.3 mph, and it wasn’t even the hit ball of the game, behind his 113 mph single in the first inning.
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 12, 2021
“It’s one impressive thing after another,” said Ross Stripling, who took a 5-1 lead on Guerrero’s two-run homer in the sixth that looked like an exclamation point in what was shaping up to be a good night for Toronto. Blue Jays. “We were saying, as if we were here playing in MVP mode and him playing in rookie mode, it’s easy for him. It’s an elite pitch and it hits him basically in the night sky. “
Another Blue Jays lead against an American League East rival also disappeared into the depths of the night sky Friday night. Rather than quell a sixth-inning rally, Tyler Chatwood helped fuel a three-run explosion, triggering the final bullpen implosion in a 6-5 Boston Red Sox win.
Chatwood hit two batters, walked another and unleashed a wild pitch behind a solid Stripling who deserved better. The unlikely leverage candidate Carl Edwards Jr. allowed the tying homer in the eighth and an error by Bo Bichette to open the ninth led to Alex Verdugo’s single off Rafael Dolis.
The Blue Jays have lost their last six meetings to the Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, with five of the games decided in the final draw and the other in the eighth. They’ve lost lead in the sixth inning or later in four of them, and Jordan Romano, their most reliable relief arm, was unavailable for the first game of a four-game series against the AL wild-card leaders due to the stiffness of the forearm. .
And each setback brings only more questions about where to turn for manager Charlie Montoyo, whose every move of the bullpen right now is like spinning the wheel.
“It’s not easy, as you know,” Montoyo said of Chatwood’s fight, which had emerged as a fire extinguisher in the middle of the game. “The last two outings were very good. It was perfect, get me four outs. When you lose that, someone has to take over. We have what we have. We still have good arms, but someone has to do it, you know? Then we will see. I don’t know where we go from here. Our guys in the bullpen need to get the job done. That is exactly what it is “.
In fact, because there are no easy solutions.
Losing David Phelps during the season was a dagger, compounded by injuries to Julian Merryweather, Ryan Borucki, Travis Bergen and AJ Cole and the fact that no one is straining their hand at Triple-A Buffalo either.
Thomas Hatch started Friday, but only had two innings against Scranton / Wilkes-Barre because he achieved his pitch count, Bisons interim manager Corey Hart said. While the right-hander allowed only one hit and one walk on two shutout shots and struck out three, he also needed 51 pitches to do so.
“He was a little picky at times,” Hart said. “And I think he felt like he should have left some guys when he didn’t. But overall, it was a pretty good job. “
Patrick Murphy is trying to regain his form after a shoulder injury, while Hobie Harris, a power arm trying to make his way into the mix, has struck out 18 in 12 innings with a 1.00 WHIP and is intriguing. As for the trade market, it’s cold right now and there’s no need-for-necessity deal like the one the Rays and Brewers did that brought JP Feyereisen to Tampa.
The problem for the Blue Jays is that they don’t have the clue to allow the guys to resolve their struggles or suddenly start experimenting, given their need for help with leverage.
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Stripling led the game 5-2 with two in and two in the sixth and Chatwood, who had a good rebound Wednesday at Chicago, which was an understandable choice. But he just didn’t get it, hitting Christian Arroyo with his second pitch, hitting a scoring walk to Marwin Gonzalez, uncorking a wild pitch to set up another run and then hitting Bobby Dalbec to reload the bases.
Shout out to Tim Mayza for getting out of trouble with the Blue Jays still up 5-4. But with no options, Montoyo sought four outs from Edwards, who delivered a game-tying homer to Arroyo with one out in the eighth. Now he has allowed runs in four of his six starts and has been hit for three home runs in 5.1 innings.
“Romano was out, so Dolis had to pitch in the ninth, so Edwards had to pitch in that inning,” Montoyo said. “That’s one of the things, you’re putting guys in different places because that’s all we have, you know what I’m saying? These guys have to take over. It’s just that. We are not looking for people. That’s what we have “.
Dolis found himself in a jam when Bichette threw wide after groundering from Kike Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who struck out on a high chase pitch that would have been the fourth ball and loaded the bases in the upper half, if the ball came out of his glove in an attempt to tag.
Verdugo singled the Green Monster four pitches later to finish it off.
“Obviously, as a team, it kind of messed us up a bit,” Stripling said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t hold onto that one. I feel like up 5-1 at Fenway, I have to find a way to win that one. “
Endgame drama didn’t seem to be on the early menu, as Teoscar Hernandez pitched RBI singles in each of the first two innings, sandwiched by a Bichette single that scored a run in the second that opened up a 3-3 lead. 0 against Garrett. Richards.
While the Blue Jays left opportunities for more on the table, especially in the first when a single by Randal Grichuk loaded the bases with one out, but Rowdy Tellez lined up to center field before Gurriel struck out, Stripling seemed to have things. well under control.
The last time he faced the Red Sox, on May 19 in Dunedin, he received six runs and eight hits, including home runs by Verdugo, JD Martinez and Hernandez, in 3.2 innings. Stripling also gave doubles to Rafael Devers, Dalbec and Hernandez in that one, prompting him to return to the rope after discovering he had been tipping his pitches.
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He’s been on a hot streak ever since and looked good again in the comeback engagement while relying mostly on his four seams, skillfully mixing his slider, shift, and curveball. A single Dalbec shot in the third was the only damage against him during the first five frames, and he got two outs in the sixth after Verdugo’s double and before Hunter Renfroe’s single made it 5-2.
Christian Vazquez followed with a single that ended one night in which he allowed five hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
“I think it consolidates (the changes),” Stripling said. “They put me five in the first and then another there in the second, it was 6-0 before I knew what happened (last time). They were making good changes. I mean, it was a laser show to not even put lightly.
“Then going out today and feeling like I was able to keep them off balance, obviously significantly better than I was in that start at Dunedin, and have low pitches, get some outs on the first pitch, get some strikeouts and then pitch on the sixth. , it gave us a chance to win a ball game, it just didn’t fall that way, it’s definitely encouraging, “he continued. “I feel like now I don’t even have to think about what I’m doing with my hands and nothing like that. It’s just who I’m moving forward with and now I’m focused on getting hitters out and not thinking about what I’m doing on the rubber. “
The Blue Jays can only wish for that same level of comfort with their bullpen right now. They don’t have it, they don’t have an easy way to get it, and it’s costing them major ball games.