The Blue Jays tied the Baltimore Orioles atop the American League Wild Card standings with another low-scoring win, one that was put into serious jeopardy after Roberto Osuna balked-in a run in the 8th inning. After dropping the opening game of their weekend series in Boston, the Blue Jays came into Saturday fighting for their playoff lives. With the Orioles and Tigers losing earlier today, the Jays knew a win would leave the team tied with Baltimore and a game ahead of Detroit heading into the season’s final day.
Kevin Pillar provided the bulk of Toronto’s offence, with a two-run RBI single in the second inning and another RBI single in the top of the sixth. J.A. turned in yet another strong outing – allowing 2 runs in 6.1 innings, despite throwing 50 pitches through two innings of work. In one of the odder blown saves you will see this year, with the Blue Jays up 3-2 in the 8th inning, Roberto Osuna balked home the tying run. The Blue Jays were able to plate another run in the 9th inning, when Michael Saunders worked a leadoff walk against Craig Kimbrel. Dalton Pompey, who promptly came into pinch run, was sacrificed over to second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Ezequiel Carrera then hit a fly ball to left field that allowed Pompey to score. Osuna would hold the lead for the Jays. Tonight’s win ensures that a Blue Jays’ victory tomorrow will guarantee them the top wildcard spot, while a loss could position them in a tie with Detroit.
It was a low-scoring, incredible back-and-forth game, that looked like it was going to turn into anything but after the first couple of innings. In the heavy rains, both Happ and Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez had their issues with command.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
The top play of the game by WPA was also the game’s most irregular. Roberto Osuna’s 8th inning balk that tied the game increased the Red Sox chances of winning by a game high 24.5 percentage points (.245 WPA).
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
The bottom play of the game by WPA also occurred in the 8th inning. With two on and none out, Roberto Osuna got Brock Holt hit into a big time double play that decreased the Sox’s chances of winning by 26.6 percentage points (-.266 WPA).
Moments and Trends
The Third Time’s the Charm
Ezequiel Carrera came up three times in this game with a runner on third and one out. The first two times, he failed to produce, striking out and grounding out. He got his chance for redemption in the ninth, however, as the Kimbrel wild pitch moved Pompey to third. After swinging at ball four on the 3-1 count, then fouling off a tough pitch, Big Zeke got the job done with his game-winning sac fly.
Edwin’s Bat Gone Quiet
Edwin Encarnacion is at the end of another fantastic season in Toronto. As the soon-to-be free agent winds down his season, he has fallen into a mini-slump, precisely when the Jays can least afford it. Edwin came into the game 6 for 36 with just one extra base hit since September 23rd. Everyone is entitled to slumps over the course of the baseball season, Edwin included. But with Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson nursing injuries, this one is just about as ill-timed as you can get.
The Struggle to Score Runs Continues
The Blue Jays offence continued to struggle on Saturday night in Boston. Despite loading the bases on three straight walks in the second inning, the Blue Jays were only able to generate one hit and two runs – both on a Kevin Pillar single. Ezequiel Carrera, Melvin Upton Jr. and Devon Travis all struck out, stranding two runners on base and failing to capitalize on an opportunity to break the game open.
Bullpen Still Shaky
Although tonight’s blown save came under the most irregular circumstances, it was the fourth blown opportunity in the last six days for Toronto’s bullpen. Just as importantly, the number of relievers John Gibbons seems to trust in high leverage situations seems to be shrinking by the day. Tonight, Gibbons went to Jason Grilli with one out in the 7th. When he surrendered a double to Mookie Betts with nobody out in the 8th and then walked Hanley Ramirez, Gibby went to closer Roberto Osuna. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, it’s hard to think of the Jays being able to go deep into the playoffs with two relievers you trust.
With the Baltimore and Detroit losses, the Jays need only to win to guarantee they host a wild card game on Tuesday. If Detroit loses another game (or Seattle, who is losing as of this writing), the Jays will move on regardless of tomorrow’s outcome. Reminder: The Jays hold the tie-breaker over the Orioles, so if the two finish tied for the two wild card spots, the game will be in Toronto on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays’ regular season finishes tomorrow afternoon (3:05 PM ET) at Fenway Park in Boston. The Blue Jays control their own destiny, as a win will ensure they claim one of the two wildcard slots. A loss creates a messier situation in which the Jays may be playing a tie-breaker game come Monday. David Price (17-9, 4.04 ERA) will take the mound against Aaron Sanchez (14-2, 3.06 ERA). David Price is said to be on a limited pitch count to ensure he enters his first playoff start next week on full rest.
Lead Photo: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports