Life was easy for the Toronto Blue Jays entering September. Exiting the month, it’s a completely different story.
The Blue Jays’ 5-3 to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night was problematic enough, but when paired with wins from the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers, the Wild Card race has become an even bigger logjam.
Baltimore now sits in the first Wild Card spot with the Blue Jays trailing one game behind. The Blue Jays hold a 0.5 game lead over the Tigers, but since Detroit has one additional game to play and has tied Toronto in the loss column, the two teams are locked in a near dead heat. Boston remains in a fight with the Cleveland Indians for home field advantage in their upcoming playoff series.
Bullpen woes continue
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — or if you’ve heard this one multiple times this week — but the Blue Jays handed a lead over to their bullpen in the late innings. After five innings of one-run ball from Marco Estrada (4 H, 2 BB, 4 K), Joe Biagini took over and pitched a scoreless sixth. In the seventh, though, Biagini found trouble.
Biagini (3 ER) and Brett Cecil (1 ER) combined to allow four runs in the seventh, highlighted by David Ortiz‘s 38th home run of the season off Cecil. Ortiz’s shot was a frozen rope into the right-field bleachers that scored Mookie Betts and put the Red Sox ahead 5-3.
Cecil has been one of Toronto’s strongest relief pitchers in recent weeks, and despite this outing he’ll still be leaned upon over the final two days of the season. Both Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna will be fresh and fully available on Saturday and Sunday.
The Blue Jays have now scored a total of five runs in their past three games, seeing their offence bottom out at the wrong time. Their seven strikeouts were balanced out by six walks and ten hits, but Toronto struggled again to produce with runners in scoring position as they went 1-for-10 in those situations.
Bautista bounces back
After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Toronto’s series finale against the New York Yankees, Jose Bautista delivered what appeared to be the big blast of the game. His two-run home run in the top of the fifth was a no-doubter that put the Blue Jays out front 3-1, but that was Toronto’s final tally.
Pillar doubles up on his unlikeliest outcome
Kevin Pillar had walked just 22 times in 572 plate appearances entering Friday’s game, but did so twice on a pair of 3-2 counts. Both times he laid off a pitch on the outside corner, showing rare plate discipline. Pillar finished the night 0-for-2 with a strikeout and the two walks.
Saturday’s game is a 7:10 p.m. ET start with J.A. Happ scheduled to face Eduardo Rodriguez. The Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees have a late afternoon start at 4:05 p.m. ET, so that result should be finalized near first pitch in Boston. The Detroit Tigers’ game against the Atlanta Braves starts at the same time as Toronto’s