The Toronto Blue Jays were in a jam when Aaron Loup entered the game in the sixth inning on Wednesday night.
R.A. Dickey had just walked Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos to load the bases with nobody out. Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Loup was given the nearly impossible task of trying to keep the Tigers from tying the game.
Manager John Gibbons didn’t hesitate to go to Loup after Dickey had thrown only 94 pitches. The Tigers countered the lefty Loup by pinching hitting J.D. Martinez for shortstop Andrew Romine. Martinez homered off Steve Delabar in Tuesday night’s game but was sat down by Loup after he was set-up for an off-speed strikeout pitch away by a perfect fastball inside.
Former Blue Jays’ outfielder Rajai Davis couldn’t put a ball in play and popped up the first pitch behind the plate to catcher Josh Thole. It didn’t seem like much but that out by Loup was probably the play of the game.
With two outs and the bases still juiced, Loup locked up Ian Kinsler on an inside fastball that was weakly popped up in foul ground to Edwin Encarnacion for the third out. It was a picture perfect frame for the 26-year-old left-hander.
Loup remained in the game during the seventh inning to face the heart of the Tigers’ order. He walked Cabrera but was able to get Victor Martinez to ground into a double play to clear the bases. Torii Hunter then grounded out to end the inning and chalk up another scoreless frame by Loup.
He wasn’t officially credited with a win or a save but Loup easily was the most valuable Toronto Blue Jay on Wednesday. In fact, as Minor Leaguer of Bluebird Banter tweeted after the game, Loup had the third highest WPA win probability added for any reliever in 2014.
Aaron Loup had an awesome +.469 WPA today. Third highest for any reliever in 2014 (highest in AL). http://t.co/apUyK6EeRP
— Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer) June 5, 2014
The Blue Jays bats exploded late in the game for the second day in the row to put the game out of reach but this game could have turned out very differently if not for an absolutely outstanding effort from Aaron Loup.