ARLINGTON—Much ado — four hours of ado, actually — about nothing-nothing.
With repeated rain bursts and thunder and lightning.
A dozen innings until a dogged bunt by Danny Jansen scored the only run in a 1-0 win by the Blue Jays over the Texas Rangers.
Three hacks at the ball, the catcher got in the top of the 12th off reliever Ariel Jurado, with men on first and second. Each time, the order from the dugout stayed put.
“It’s not easy to bunt with two strikes but from the beginning he knew he had three chances to do it,’’ reasoned manager Charlie Montoyo afterwards.
The real chance of the thing was Jurado pouncing on the roller and then airmailing the throw to third base, ball sailing into the third row, Brandon Drury trotting home free and easy.
E-1 and no RBI for Jansen. But still.
After Jansen’s first two bunt stabs, his glasses fogging up from the rain, his heart was racing, he said. Heck, hadn’t bunted with two strikes in a couple of years.
“At that point I’m, like, I have to get this down, otherwise I’m just a terrible baseball player. I had a couple of chances and didn’t get it done. I just tried to put it really anywhere at that point, get the ball on the ground and fair.”
Toronto could squeeze nothing further out of that frame, Justin Smoak struck out looking to end the inning — and then ejected for whatever he said to the home plate umpire. But closer Ken Giles took over on the bump and K-K-K, that’s all she wrote for the save.
Daniel Hudson, fourth reliever out of the ‘pen, got the W. Trent Thornton went seven innings — longest outing of his seven starts — giving up only one hit, striking out five and walking a pair.
The Rangers had the winning run at third in both the 10th and 11th inning but were fended off in the clutch by Ryan Tepera and Hudson.
Thornton, still looking for his first win — only five runs of support all season — was particularly aggressive on this evening at Globe Life Park.
“My attack plan early was to get ahead and I didn’t do that as early as I wanted to. But I attacked with my fastball, made sure I could throw my off-speed for strikes and that helped me for the rest of the game. They had to honour my curveball and that helped my fastball. I felt pretty good.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. turned his first double-play as a Blue Jay — in fact, his first double-play of 2019, minor league games included. Took off like the wind on an infield single in the ninth, beating out the throw to first, helmet flying off halfway down the line.
BETWEEN THE LINES
Randal Grichuk extended his season-long hit streak to seven games … Eric Sogard went 2-for-4, his fifth multi-hit game, and was the only Toronto starter who avoided striking out against Texas ace Mike Minor, who racked up nine Ks over eight innings.
MAN OF MYSTERY SOLVED
Mr. X, the pitcher-to-be-named-later, has been identified as … Thomas Pannone.
Took Montoyo till, oh, 11:25 p.m. (Texas time) to confirm that the 25-year-old lefty will start Game 2 Saturday against the Rangers. Second spot-start of the season for Pannone; last one back on April 6, taking the loss in Cleveland.
Montoyo had been playing it by bullpen-ear for the assignment, decision forestalled as the Jays gerrymandered their shrunken rotation around a couple of timely off-days, in the wake of Matt Shoemaker’s season-ending shredded ACL. A recently over-taxed relief corps — bringing up the rear too soon on short outings by Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez this week — had left the skipper wondering whether he might pluck a No. 5 starter out of the bullpen. He managed to keep Pannone in abeyance.
Still, it’s a short-term fix, with Shoemaker gone for the season and Clayton Richard still on the IL.
“Sooner or later, we’re going to pay the price (for the loss of Shoemaker),” said Montoyo. “Because he was very good. I think we’re reaching that point.”
Instead of tapping Triple-A Buffalo for an emergency starter, the Jays called up reliever Derek Law, the 28-year-old acquired from San Francisco in the Kevin Pillar deal. Law joined the parent club here on Friday afternoon.
To make room for Law on the 25-man roster, Toronto designated Alen Hanson for assignment.
The Hansen experiment just didn’t work, a botched play on an easy fly ball, E9 Thursday in Anaheim sealing the utility fielder’s fate.
Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno
Published at Sat, 04 May 2019 11:52:24 +0000