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Blue Jays: Just the first game, but Charlie Montoyo’s at it again

Apr 1, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo removes starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (99) from the game against the New York Yankees during the sixth inning of an opening day game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo removes starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (99) from the game against the New York Yankees during the sixth inning of an opening day game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays may have won their season opener against the Yankees, but manager Charlie Montoyo already found a way to frustrate fans.

When the game was still tied going into extra innings, the Blue Jays hit first in the top of the 10th. MLB decided to keep the rule that starts a runner at second base in extra innings, so the Jays had Jonathan Davis in scoring position, who pinch ran for Rowdy Tellez, the last out in the 9th inning. They were also fortunate enough to get a leadoff double from Randal Grichuk to give them a 3-2 lead.

With number nine hitter Danny Jansen at the plate with a runner at 2nd base and nobody out, Montoyo decided to ask the catcher to bunt. I wasn’t a fan of the idea when the Blue Jays backstop had a fresh count to work with, let alone when he continued to try to bunt with two strikes, eventually striking out without moving the runner over.

I realize that Jansen needs to get a bunt down in that situation rather than giving the Yankees an out, but why was he being asked to bunt at all?

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First, Grichuk was already in scoring position and runs pretty well, so a single from Jansen likely scores him. You’re also not in danger of hitting into a double play with just one runner on at second, so even in a worst case like a strikeout or a popup, Grichuk would have remained in scoring position for the top of the order.

I understand that Jansen isn’t the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, but if you’re really that against letting him take a hack in that situation, why not bring in Alejandro Kirk to pinch hit? The 22 year old made the team because of the offence he can provide to the catching position, and it felt like a situation that was tailor made to bring him off the bench. And if not Kirk, Joe Panik and his left-handed bat could have nearly provided a guaranteed ground ball to the right side to move Grichuk over.

I’m not saying that there are no good times to utilize a bunt, but I was pleased that I wasn’t the only one scratching my head on Thursday. This decision confused a lot of baseball writers and fans, especially because they had Jansen bunt AFTER they already had the lead. It was also felt reminiscent of far too many times last year, when many of us were yelling at our television sets in disbelief.

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In the end, it’s a situation that will quickly be forgotten after the Blue Jays picked up an Opening Day over the Yankees. That said, it was the type of questionable decision that could have come back to bite the Blue Jays if the Yankees had scored in the bottom half, and hopefully Montoyo will try something else next time. I can’t believe we’re already talking about this again.

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