Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was uncharacteristically thrown out of Saturday’s game, but he picked a great time to step up for his team.
In the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the Astros, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was rung up on a called strike three, and the young phenom wasn’t happy about it. To be fair, there have been a bunch of bad strike calls throughout this series, but I’m not sure that Guerrero Jr. had a case for being upset on this particular pitch.
As the star first baseman turned back toward the dugout, he let out a yell and also slammed his bat on the turf in frustration. For some players that may have warranted an immediate ejection, and it was very likely that Vlad Jr. was teetering on the edge of being thrown out. That’s when Montoyo came running out of the dugout.
For all of the times that I’ve criticized Montoyo in the past, he seemed to understand his assignment in this particular moment. The fourth-year manager was ready to jump on the grenade for his star player, and the way he shot out of the dugout quickly took the attention off of Guerrero Jr. While it’s not ideal to lose your skipper in a tight game like Saturday’s proved to be, it’s better than being without your best hitter.
Even if Guerrero Jr. ended up going 0-4 in the game, his mere presence makes a difference in the approach from their opponents. Had he been thrown out, the Blue Jays likely would have had to bring in Gosuke Katoh to play first base for the remainder of the game. Gurriel Jr. would typically be a candidate, but with George Springer serving as the DH on Saturday, they were using their three other natural outfielders already.
As for Montoyo’s quick thinking, it’s a sign that he’s starting to grow into his seat as a big league manager, and personally, I’m starting to trust him a little more with each passing week. In that particular moment when Guerrero Jr. was dangerously close to being thrown out, Montoyo did exactly what he needed to in order to help his team.
It’ll probably fly under the radar in a 2-1 win that saw two solo shots from George Springer, but it was a significant moment in the game, and big reason why they were able to pick up win number 14. I’m glad to see Montoyo had a chance to enjoy the victory too.