Minneapolis — Execution is critical in a close game, a meaningful game, and one where the Toronto Blue Jays hope to play to the end and enter the MLB postseason. They’re not going to blow everyone away. They have to win close ones.
And that run wasn’t there on Friday night when one of those games came up against another team eager to play the same kind of baseball over the next two months or more.
Ostensibly, that’s why the Blue Jays lost to the Minnesota Twins, 6-5, in ten innings.
A tough night for Jose Berrios didn’t help either. The Blue Jays starter lasted just 3.2 innings before giving way to a procession of his six relievers from the Toronto bullpen. Still, that group did its job, stabilizing the Twins as Toronto’s offense returned, eventually tying the game until the ninth and final strike.
But that’s when the mistakes started. First, there was a regular grounder to Cavan Biggio in the bottom of the ninth when the Blue Jays second baseman whiffed.
Then there was a scoring opportunity in the top of the 10th when Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. roped Michael Fulmer’s slider over the head of Twins second baseman Luis Ares. The ball was high enough and hit hard enough that Biggio was his second legible and soon he could have broken third. But instead, his first move was back in the bag, eliminating any chance of scoring the go-ahead run.
And finally in the bottom of the 10th inning. With runners on second to start the inning, Jordan Romano beat Nick Cave on a dirt slider. However, Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen first missed an attempt to tag Cabe, then airmailed his throw first, which was reached by a Twins outfielder, with runners on second. A certain Nick Gordon advanced to third.
Two balls later, Romano had Tim Beckham bounce a ground ball to Matt Chapman as Gordon took off for home. But Chapman’s throw short-hopped Jansen and Gordon slipped off his head on the game-winning run, so Jansen couldn’t come up with it.
Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said, “There was a lot going on there. [Biggio] Comes with one on the line drive. It’s really tough for the second runner.
“And if you want someone to hit the ball in the 10th inning, I think it’s Matt Chapman. I think I lost a little bit of angle on my throws to first and played maybe a little tougher than I should have, so I see those things as opportunities to get better.”
The Blue Jays certainly need to do so, as did Berrios, whose recent streak of success came to a screeching halt on Friday at a ballpark he spent the first six seasons of his career calling home. appeared to complete another outing with cruise control as he ran the first two innings on the . However, he spits out Mark Contreras’ solo shot in the third to start the fourth, allowing the first three batters to reach a double, walk, and single.
After a mound conference with pitching coach Pete Walker, Berrios’ next pitch was a changeup that didn’t fool Gordon 410 feet over the right field wall. Berrios took a few outs from there, but his 26th pitch of the inning was Sandy Leon’s fourth. And that was it.
“I didn’t throw a quality pitch tonight. But I’m going to go out and compete and try to do my best,” Berrios said. It’s not a high pitch, I let it go, but just turn the page and keep going forward.”
Ultimately, Berrios didn’t have the same curveball he had in July when he had six powerful long throws. He posted a 3.00 ERA and a 3.25 FIP, and in 36 innings he struck out 42 and only walked 7. He also didn’t have command of the fastball because he was either too far off the plate with his four seamer and sinker or too far over the center of the plate. It was an untimely setback for the Blue Jays starter, who had been battling inconsistently all season, and seemed to have finally found his groove.
“I was throwing good pitches last month. Today I came to the ballpark feeling healthy and strong. But that’s one of the nights I couldn’t make a pitch,” Berrios said. “I try to stay on track and be consistent. Obviously I didn’t throw well tonight. But I’m going to turn the page. I’ve been throwing the ball pretty well lately.” So I want to go back to that.”
Meanwhile, Twins starter Tyler Mare had Whit Merrifield smash an infield hit when Santiago Espinal tagged him in for a first-pitch solo shot and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. scored them. He was on track until the sixth when he turned the cookie slider for one of his madness.The line-drive homer he hit never went down:
However, Mare blocked the damage from there, completing the sixth and giving way to a series of hard-throwing reliefs, including trade deadline acquisition Jorge Lopez. Take the lead and secure his second save for the new team.
Ultimately, he didn’t. After Beaubischett and Janssen reached on singles, Leimer Tapia fired a two-out two-strike 98 mph Lopez his sinker into an inside black on his up near shallow Normans his land in the center. It came off Tapia’s butt at 75.5 mph and was soft enough for Bichette to drop in as he crossed home on his tying run.
An almost unbelievable result for one of the most exciting closers of the season. It set the Blue Jays’ dugout on fire, enthralling thousands of blue-robed Toronto fans in the stands behind it. Just as Imi Garcia set all those people off again when he pitched out in the bottom of the inning from the bases-loaded one-out jam created when Biggio botched a ground ball to second base.
However, the Blue Jays were unable to capitalize on Fulmer in the top of the tenth. Another deadline bullpen win for Minnesota mixed a 95-mph slider to a 95-mph sinker, so he ran to his 92. But it still got the job done, with Guerrero walking, Gurriel single, and Biggio striking out the side and failing to make a good jump to ground the bases loaded.
The Blue Jays were forced into the worst situation of having to prevent the second base runner from scoring in the bottom of the 10th inning. And Schneider summoned closer Romano to the spot, putting his team in prime position for victory.
But you know what happened next. Toronto’s execution lapsed again, the throw was airmailed first, no plays were made at the plate, and the Blue Jays lost.
“It was a roller coaster, but I think everything lined up the way we wanted it to. “You learn from it and move on. And then you have another game tomorrow.”
Blue Jays unable to complete comeback as late lapse leads to loss against Twins
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