July 14, 2012
Jays' relief exposed in 11-9 win
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Three-quarters of the way through what should have been a laugher for the Blue Jays, the joke turned on them.
Up 11-4 heading into the eighth inning, the Jays were on cruise control against the Cleveland Indians.
Suddenly, though, the weak underbelly of the team, its middle relief, was exposed.
Right-hander Jesse Chavez came into the contest and all he accomplished was to bring the Indians back into the game.
He faced four batters and didn’t retire any. He walked the leadoff hitter then gave up a two-run homer to Michael Brantley.
Shelley Duncan followed with a single and after that, Casey Kotchman drilled a 2-2 pitch into the third deck in right to make it an 11-8 game.
Manager John Farrell turned to Drew Carpenter who got two outs but then put the game back in jeopardy by walking consecutive hitters.
So that was it for Carpenter and Farrell was forced to go to closer Casey Janssen to get the final four outs.
Janssen gave up a RBI single to pinch hitter Travis Hafner and nothing more as he logged the save in the Jays 11-9 triumph.
After the game, Chavez was dispatched back to triple-A Las Vegas with Chad Beck coming back up.
Earlier in the game, after an indifferent start by Aaron Laffey, rookie lefty Aaron Loup made his Major League debut and was impressive as he retired all six batters he faced.
At the start of the season the bullpen was considered to be a source of strength but with the injuries to the starters and the promotion of Carlos Villanueva and Laffey to the rotation, it has become a game of musical chairs.
Farrell spelled it out in the post-game discussion surrounding Chavez — if you can’t produce, you’re out.
“In the end, we need somebody to come in and get three outs,” Farrell said of the disappointment of Chavez. “Unfortunately we had to press Casey into a four-out save but that’s what it called for today.”
Farrell isn’t looking for anything other than having relievers who can get people out. It’s as simple as that.
“We’re at the point where there’s an opportunity for anyone who walks in here and if guys can’t grab hold of an opportunity and take a job, we’re going to find the next guy.”
Loup, by contrast, offered encouragement, had the look of a guy who believes in himself and his stuff. He pounded the strike zone and didn’t nibble.
“Just the way he carried himself, threw the ball over the plate,” Farrell said when asked what was most impressive about Loup’s outing. “He had good tempo, didn’t back away from the challenge being the first time he’s ever at the major league level.
"He threw his fastball and breaking ball over for strikes, just an impressive attack of the strike zone.”
The Jays were also impressive at the plate, especially in the third inning when they raked Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez and reliever Scott Barnes for a combined eight runs on eight hits.
Before the inning ended the Jays would send 13 batters to the plate.
Of the eight hits, six went for extra bases including two-run home runs by Edwin Encarnacion and Yunel Escobar. It marked just the fourth time in franchise history they had managed six or more extra-base hits in an inning.
The club record in that department is seven accomplished Aug. 2 of 2010 against the Yankees.
Adam Lind was one of the hitting stars as he went 4-for-5 with four RBIs.
In the 15 games he has performed in since his recall from Vegas, Lind is hitting .340 (17-for-50) with three doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs.
“Eight runs, it takes one through nine to do that,” Lind said of the big third inning. “I think we were rolling today.
“The potential in this lineup is pretty formidable.”
Still, it’s tough to count on the offence for 11 runs and 13 hits every game.
They need some of their untested pitching to step up.
Chavez didn’t and paid the price.
The hope if Loup is more than a one game wonder.