ARLINGTON—Well, that didn’t go according to plan.
Given all the bullpen finagling Charlie Montoyo orchestrated, straining to keep lefty Thomas Pannone off the mound during a spate of relief overdrive games, one might very well be wondering: What the heck for?
For this, basically: Grinding out two-and-one-third innings of no-stuff on the mound, clawed for seven runs on five hits. But pitching on fumes and stones, when all around Pannone the game went pear-shaped in a hurry, dinged for a home run in the first and walk-walk-walk plus a triple to sub-.200 back-up catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the third.
All to ease the burden on a hurly-burly bullpen saddled with too much work in recent days, too few arms to go around in relief.
“He didn’t have his command and he was off from the beginning,” said Montoyo, in the wake of Toronto’s 8-5 loss to the Rangers. “We had to leave him a little bit longer, for what we had in the bullpen. We needed him to go at least one more inning.
“But yeah, it was a tough one. No excuses.”
The skipper had been hoping Pannone — making only his second start of the season, spot-start because the Blue Jays are down a quart in the opening rotation since Matt Shoemaker shredded his ACL — could hang in for four innings, maxing out at 60 pitches. He got 58 pitches out of the lefty, who departed with Toronto trailing 5-2 but a couple of his inherited runners would come around to score with freshly summoned (from Buffalo) Derek Law on the bump.
Jays got studly relief work thereafter from Sam Gaviglio and Elvis Luciano — no runs on just one hit — but the game was well out of hand, even though the Jays responded quickly with three runs in the fourth.
“Outstanding again today,” said the skipper of his bullpen cadre. “Gaviglio and Luciano gave us a chance. We made it a game at 8-5.’’ Montoyo at that point told pitching coach Pete Walker that if the team could knot the score in the top of the ninth, he would send teenager Luciano back out there for a third inning.
“Because I feel that confident in the kid now, throwing strikes and getting people out. It’s a good sign.’’
Also, let’s be honest, because the ‘pen was stripped bare of arms good-to-go.
Rubber match goes Sunday afternoon, with Clay Buchholz, on spindly legs and heavily-taped ankles, getting the ball.
A small but still significant milestone for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who earned the first RBI of his Major League career on a ground ball past third base in the first frame, scoring Justin Smoak, who’d walked, giving Toronto a fleeting 1-0 lead.
There was symbiosis to it.
As first tweeted by Keegan Matheson, editor of Baseball Toronto: Smoak tallied his first RBI on April 27, 2010, with a sac fly that scored Vladimir Guerrero Sr., in Rangers days. On May 4, 2019, it was Guerrero Jr. scoring Smoak.
“It’s cool and it’s weird in a way too,’’ observed Smoak. “I feel it’s a funny game, crazy stuff always happens. For that to happen, it’s crazy to me. It’s weird how this game works.”
Informed of the odd coincidence, Vladdy echoed Smoak’s sentiments. “Baseball is crazy. That was like nine years ago. Smoaky and I are here now playing together. He told me because our lockers are beside each other, so we did talk about it.’’
One can only wonder in what language. Jr. speaks Spanish, Smoak speaks Southern Carolina.
The 20-year-old, while still looking for the long bomb everyone is anticipating, looked more polished at the plate than he had in his previous couple of games, working a walk, getting a better bead on pitches.
“I feel very happy with myself about my first RBI. Hopefully there will be many, many to come.’’
He continues to insist that the pressure to produce in a slam-bang way is not getting to him.
“I just have to keep working hard. Every day I feel very comfortable at the plate, more comfortable, so I know they’re going to fall. I don’t feel bad at all. I’m just going to keep working to get the results I want.”
Eric Sogard plated two runs on a triple in the fourth. Ninth career triple for him and Toronto’s fourth three-bagger of the season … Randal Grichuk’s seven game hit streak came to an end, though he did draw a walk … From the Department of Silly Walks, witness Billy McKinney on the back-pedal after slipping on the bag at second on a 4-3-6 double play … In what may have been an MLB first, the eighth inning saw an Elvis-on-Elvis matchup — Luciano inducing a flyball out from Elvis Andrus.
Published at Sun, 05 May 2019 13:47:49 +0000