Apr 23, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; The Baltimore Orioles got to celebrate once again after the Blue Jays bullpen blew a 3-2 lead. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Thursday night brought with it another infuriating effort from the bullpen in a game where the Jays had a chance to make a statement but instead had the fans heading for exits early. It came down to a lack of execution, and this pattern of blowing leads in important games is becoming disheartening. Giving up a couple of runs here and there is understandable, but when the bullpen blows up, fails to employ any sort of damage control, and gives the offence no chance to make a comeback, and it becomes commonplace, it’s unacceptable.
After Drew Hutchison did his job, going six strong innings, giving up two, walking one and striking out nine, Gibbons made the move to go to the bullpen. I would have liked to see Hutchison go out for the seventh and stay there until any sort of trouble occurred, but Gibbons has him on a very short leash and strict pitch count. Maybe Gibbons and his staff would be best served to trade Hutchison’s leash with R.A. Dickey’s, considering Hutchison has been the teams second best starter behind Mark Buehrle, while Dickey has been, to put it nicely, inconsistently awful.
Neil Wagner came in, gave up a hard hit lineout to Jonathon Schoop, and failed to get the light-hitting David Lough out. Brett Cecil was brought in, and the typically reliable Cecil walked Nick Markakis, which was outside of an extra base hit, the worst-case scenario. He then failed to keep the running game in check, and the Orioles easily executed a double steal.
On another note, this seriously needs to be addressed by the coaching staff. On two occasions tonight, Dioner Navarro had zero chance to throw out a base stealer. The pitchers, and more so, the coaching staff need to enforce the control of the running game because it’s something that can come back to haunt you if you allow opponents to steal bases with ease. (Lough scored earlier in the game due to an uncontested stolen base.)
The double steal led to the walk of Nelson Cruz, and then the snowball really gained momentum. Chris Davis drove in two with a single, Adam Jones ripped an RBI double, and Matt Wieters drove in two more with a single. That’s what happens when you fail to execute against the weaker hitters in a strong lineup, the middle will hurt you.
Onto the eighth, with the lead already blown, Esmil Rogers fails to keep the game in check, and the game is essentially blown up. I realize that there were many hits that the O’s had that could be regarded as lucky, but it came down to a bullpen that failed to execute the little things against a lineup that executed the minor aspects of the game, and it ultimately led to another demoralizing loss.