Fenway Park, in Boston, could have possibly been the death knell for the Blue Jays in Friday night’s game. They would have loved to be 4.5 games out of a playoff spot last season, but this year seems just as desperate. The Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees were standing in Toronto’s way to the promise land going into the evening’s matchup.
On top of the struggles in the standings, Cabrera jammed his finger on the first base bag while being picked off in the third inning. He tried to make a go of it by batting in the sixth inning, but he could not complete his at-bat, grimacing at his hand after swinging at a pitch.
After taking some x-rays, Rogers Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner reported on Twitter that “#BlueJays will have to play the rest of this season without Melky Cabrera. Broken right pinky finger, will have surgery. #Damnit #Jays.” Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez shared that sentiment in the tenth inning, his voice breaking ever so slightly as he repeated Wilner’s news.
Cabrera will be sorely missed. His .300 batting average and 73 RBIs have been very important to keep the Jays even as close to the playoffs as they are at present. The Toronto brass will have a big decision to make on the left fielder from the Dominican Republic in the offseason. The budget will require people to be dealt, resigned, or released.
The game itself was a spectacle of its own. Allen Webster started for the Red Sox on the mound after giving up six runs in each of his last two outings. It seemed that he picked up where those games left off by giving up two runs in the first inning. Yoenis Cespedes, however, picked up his own hot game as well, striking a line drive off of Jays starter Drew Hutchison to the opposite field, defeating the defensive shift once again, to score another of his 91 RBIs. Christian Vazquez later hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second inning to score Mookie Betts to tie the game at two runs each.
After Mike Napoli grounded out to score Dustin Pedroia in the third inning, Jose Bautista would just not let that stand. Bautista blasted a bomb of a home run to left field, scoring Anthony Gose for a 4-3 lead. Not to be outdone, Edwin Encarnacion belted a mammoth homer of his own off of Red Sox reliever Alex Wilson so far, it cleared Fenway Park. The shot scored Jose Reyes to make it 6-3, tying Bautista with a 30-homer total for the season.
The scoring looked more like a title bout at the U.S. Open tennis championship, bouncing back and forth with ferocity. In the bottom of the eighth inning, against Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup, Betts singled on a line drive to score Cespedes. Xander Bogaerts followed that up with his 26th double of the season, scoring Napoli and Betts to tie the game at six.
In the top of the tenth inning, the StroShow, Marcus Stroman, graced the bases with his youthful swagger to pinch run for Encarnacion. The move proved to be an excellent one for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. While on third base, Stroman took advantage of a soft grounder by Dioner Navarro that stretched Pedroia far to his right, almost into the short stop area. Stroman slid head-first to avoid the tag with ease to give the Blue Jays the lead, 7-6.
Sep 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (left) congratulates left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) on hitting in the winning run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the tenth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The game proved to want to finish by players not wanting to be outdone. The problem for the Blue Jays was that it worked in Boston’s favour. Still in the tenth, Danny Valencia made a sacrifice fly to right field, which should have only moved John Mayberry, recently added from the minors to the roster, to third base. Red Sox right fielder Allen Craig decided to help the Jays along by forgetting how many outs there were and kept the ball while taking a few paces back into the infield. Once he realized his mistake, Mayberry would not let him forget it, rounding third and flying into home plate. The slide was reviewed and upheld to give the Jays a two-run lead.
Once again, not to be outdone, Casey Janssen entered the game to close the door and, instead, let it fly open. He could not find a way to get the Red Sox batters out. Will Middlebrooks singled to left field, scoring Betts. Pedroia smashed a pitch to left field for a sacrifice fly to score Bogaerts. And finally, Cespedes, the RBI machine who started the scoring for Boston, singled on a ground ball to center field to score Jemile Weeks for a walk-off win. It was the third blown save for Janssen in recent games, making his ERA over eight runs.
The Blue Jays had the win twice. Instead, Casey Janssen let another save opportunity get away from him and took the loss. You cannot expect your team to make the playoffs when they cannot finish strong against the bottom of the division. Winning teams know how to put weaker teams away. The Blue Jays have been playing better as of late, winning five games in a row. But at this point, Toronto could not stand to lose the game, let alone Melky Cabrera, if they wished to make any ground in the standings. They broke the streak, Cabrera’s hand, and the hearts of many Jays fans.