Toronto Blue Jays: Avoid heading to extra innings at all costs

The Toronto Blue Jays dropped another close game last night, surrendering three runs in the top of the 10th inning against the Detroit Tigers in the first game back at the Rogers Centre since the nine-game road trip.

With a man on second, reliever Trevor Richards surrendered two weak hits that dropped in ahead of the outfielders before Adam Cimber also gave up a run (charged to Richards) and put the Tigers ahead by three. The Blue Jays only got into this scenario after a Robbie Ray slider down in the zone passed through Alejandro Kirk’s legs and allowed a runner to score from third, tieing the game at 1-1 in the eighth. Ray was fantastic last night, going eight innings while striking out 11 with only five hits and no walks, and should have earned the win.

The Jays offense was kept quiet yesterday against Tyler Alexander and the Tigers bullpen, with a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. home run being the only run on the board while the rest of the order only contributed four more hits while striking out eight times.

The Blue Jays hold a 2-8 record when games head into extra innings, as the team does not have success when the game heads past the ninth (or seventh) inning.

After another heartbreaking loss last night, the Blue Jays record in extra innings in 2021 is abysmal, as the club currently holds a 2-8 record (last night included) when the game heads past the ninth inning.

The Jays’ two extra-inning wins have come against the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves, with the first game of the season heading to the 10th inning against the Yankees with a Randal Grichuk double scoring Jonathan Davis from second to put the Jays up 1-0 to start the year.

On the flip side, the club has eight losses in extras at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay Rays (x2), Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit Tigers. The loss to the Red Sox was the second game of the doubleheader where the Jays lost in the eighth inning, which was technically extra innings as they are only seven-inning games. That puts the Blue Jays at a .200% winning percentage when games go past the eighth inning. Since their May 1st walk-off against the Braves, the Jays have dropped seven consecutive extra-inning decisions.

Of the eight losses, six of them have seen the opposing team score more than one run during the extra innings and each loss was attributed to a different bullpen pitcher. One interesting stat to note is that each extra-inning loss has been when the Blue Jays were the home team, whether they were in Dunedin, Buffalo, or Toronto.

Given the 2021 season history, the Blue Jays need to avoid heading to extra innings at all costs to finish out the campaign, as every game is a must-win at this point to try and stay competitive in trying to earn a postseason spot.

The Jays are 10.5 games back in the AL East and slowly slipping in the Wild Card standings at 5.0 games. While five games is not a huge number by any means, the Blue Jays will need to go on a hot streak if they plan to play October baseball.