The inner armchair quarterback in me had me questioning the decision of Toronto Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons in sticking with reliever Jason Grilli during the 10th inning yesterday.
The Toronto Blue Jays lost the contest 4-1 in an extra frame at the hands of their division rival from Massachusetts in what turned out to be a great pitching duel between Marco Estrada and Chris Sale.
I am a generally huge supporter of Jays manager John Gibbons even when the skipper feels the wrath and brunt of the burden from unhappy Jays fans who yearn for small ball. I even authored an article earlier this week pledging my allegiance to Gibby during the team’s dreadful start.
However, this time I think Gibby should have yanked Jason Grilli before facing either Andrew Benintendi or Mookie Betts with the game on the line. It was obvious Grilli was off after pitching on back to back days and the 40-year old was already over the 20-pitch count when the talented Betts strolled up to the dish.
The Blue Jays tied the game in the bottom of the 9th inning after a long homer off the bat of Kendrys Morales. Grilli got the nod to take the bump in the 10th inning in the 1-1 affair.
The inning started well as Pablo Sandoval flew out to Kevin Pillar to start the 10th. Grilli then proceeded to walk catcher Sandy Leon on six pitches putting the go-ahead run on base. Utility player Brock Holt immediately singled advancing Leon to second and turning the order over.
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The rookie Andrew Benintendi who bats left-handed was next up with a chance to put the BoSox ahead. In 32 career games, Benintendi is hitting .238 versus southpaws as opposed to a robust .328 average against righties.
Not that I am the biggest Aaron Loup fan, this would have been an ideal situation to take your chances with the rookie versus a lefty. The last thing you want is Mookie Betts beating you which he did. Gibbons stuck with Grilli and he subsequently issued a free pass to Benintendi loading the bases for Betts.
Betts would double off Grilli with a 2-0 count cashing in all three base runners and sealing the Blue Jays fate handing them their 12th loss in 15 games.
My issue with Gibbons was his reluctance to pull Grilli who obviously did not have his best stuff and had thrown 21 pitches the day before. There were opportunities to bring in a lefty versus Benintendi and then again bring in a fresh arm versus Betts.
This sequence cost the Blue Jays the game, yesterday Gibby should have gotten out the hook once he recognized Grilli wasn’t up to snuff and taken his chances with another hurler.
It’s so easy being the armchair quarterback, isn’t it?