Thanks to picture in picture, I was able to watch two of our professional sports franchises in Toronto simultaneously lose their games. Our Soccer team never had a chance against Sporting Kansas City, even with their two new high profile european stars. And the Toronto Blue Jays do what they have done all season; blow leads late in the game.
No lead is never safe if you are wearing a Toronto Blue Jays uniform, and this pattern of blowing leads late in games has sadly become painfully predictable for Jays fans, who have run out of appropriate curse words to describe their teams late inning performance. Whether big or small, home or away, the Jays have trouble holding leads.
In the latest implosion came in Arlington Texas where the Jays carried a one run lead into the ninth inning. Farrell calls on Zep who has been phenomenal out of the pen this season to close it out, and brings in Corey Patterson to defend right field for the rookie Eric Thames. Two base runners and zero outs later and Farrell goes to Rauch who gets a an out, before giving up the tying run on a close play at the plate, and then giving up what should have been the inning ending fly ball to right field where our friend Corey Patterson was playing.
So who gets the blame today?
Is it Zep for failing to record an out? Rauch for giving up the tying and winning run? or Patterson for the STB in right field (see definition here)?
Niether, this loss goes to Jays manager John Farrell for orchestrating the perfect storm. Zep is not the closer for this team, and can have trouble throwing strikes on occassion. As inconsistent as the other relievers have been, I think you have to go with Rauch or Fransisco (I’ll spare him the other nickname because he wasn’t to blame tonight). Fransisco threw very well yesterday as he struck out the side. Granted it was a blow out for the other team so there was no pressure on him, but I think you ride that good effort into tonight. It’s easy to second guess Farrell for the pitching effort given who terribly ineffective any one in the “closer” role has been this season, and Zep has for the most part performed very well this season.
What is inexcusable, to me, is running Corey Patterson out there as a defensive replacement into right field. A position he has seen very little of this season. I don’t think he is any better in the outfield than Eric Thames, who is still refining his defense.
Regardless of who gets to wear the stone of shame for this loss, it’s just sad as a fan to expect your team to blow a lead late in the game, hope and optimism is the reason we enjoy watching sports, and the sooner we lose that optimism the sooner we become like jaded Philadelphia Eagles fans.
Most fans understand that the Jays were not supposed to compete for a playoff spot this year, but 17 blown saves is not only unacceptable but can almost completely account for the reason the Jays are no longer in reasonable playoff contention right now. If even half of those blown saves had been converted to wins the team would probably be tied with the Yankees for second in the division and within striking distance of the wild card.
I don’t want to be the guy who sighs and groans as soon as our starting pitcher is pulled from the game, and the offense shouldn’t have to put up 13 run leads every night to give the pen enough room for error. I don’t expect any major changes before the trade deadline, but certainly this BS situation needs to be addressed in the off season. I can’t watch another season of this.