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Blue Jays suffer gut-wrenching 10-9 loss to underdog Seattle Mariners – The Globe and Mail

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Jordan Romano of the Toronto Blue Jays walks back to the dugout after being relieved against the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning in game two of the American League Wild Card Series at Rogers Centre on Oct. 8, 2022.MARK BLINCH/Getty Images

It was an epic collapse that Blue Jays fans may bemoan and scrutinize for years.

Early in Saturday’s contest, the Toronto Blue Jays had a commanding 8-1 lead in Game 2, looking confident to force a decisive third game in their wild-card series.

Yet a few hours later, the underdog Seattle Mariners were dancing on Toronto’s field after handing the highly favoured Jays one of the most gut-wrenching losses in franchise history.

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The Mariners notched the biggest road comeback in MLB post-season history, winning 10-9 in an intense game that lasted over four hours and included a game-changing collision between Bo Bichette and George Springer in the outfield.

Seattle – a team making its first playoff appearance in 21 years – will advance to the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros.

The Jays clubhouse was quiet, with many players and coaches embracing in end-of-season hugs after sky-high hopes for a deep playoff run with a talent-rich team have evaporated.

Toronto’s playoff run is over after just two days. A best-of-three wild card series can be so unforgiving.

Cathal Kelly: It took the Blue Jays a village of mistakes to blow a seven-run lead against Seattle Mariners

“It just really sucks that we have to go home,” said Jays starter Kevin Gausman. “Because there’s a lot of really talented baseball players in there.”

In Game 1, the Mariners feasted on a few bad pitches by Toronto ace Alek Manoah in his first inning of playoff baseball, and jumped out to a fast lead the Jays would not overcome. Canada’s team ran into a red-hot pitcher in Luis Castillo and they got beat 4-0, forced to fight for their playoff lives on Saturday.

The Jays faced their old teammate Robbie Ray, who won the AL Cy Young Award while pitching for Toronto last year. In his first appearance at the Rogers Centre since his departure, the 30-year-old left-hander pitched just over three innings on Saturday, giving up six hits and four runs against four strikeouts.

He was pitching against the guy the Jays signed to replace Ray – Gausman, who got off to a hot start, not allowing a hit until the fifth inning, helped along by a leaping catch by Bichette, then alone at the wall by Springer.

The Jays got hot bats early. Alejandro Kirk provided the first Jays hit of the game in the second, a double into the left field corner. Next at the plate, Teoscar Hernandez cracked a homer to give the Jays a fast 2-0 lead and became the first to put on the new special postseason edition homerun jacket. The crowd of 47,156 made Rogers Centre thunderous.

In the third, Santiago Espinal doubled in his first game back from an oblique injury, and then Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled to bring him home. Hernandez crushed his second homer – a solo shot – in the fourth.

But the Mariners began to heat up at the plate in the fifth. Gausman allowed two hits that inning, including a double by Carlos Santana that rocked off the wall. A sacrifice fly by Jarred Kelenic scored Frazier. Gausman limited the damage to just one run.

The Mariners crumbled in a dramatic fifth inning that saw the Jays score four runs. They let the Jays load the bases by intentionally walking Guerrero Jr. and bringing up Kirk. Then Seattle reliever Paul Sewald threw an errant pitch that sailed off the top of his catcher’s glove, and Espinal stole home. Sewald lost control of his fastball and hit Hernandez in the shoulder, putting him on base. Matt Chapman crushed a sac fly to score Guerrero Jr. Then Danny Jansen scored Kirk on his line drive double to right.

When Seattle swapped out Sewald with Diego Castillo, his first pitch was a slider that hit Toronto’s Whit Merrifield flush in the helmet. The Jays cautiously removed Merrifield from the game, and he was steaming. It was just the start of the drama.

The Seattle Mariners celebrate after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays on Oct. 8, 2022.MARK BLINCH/Getty Images

Gausman pitched into the sixth inning, and the Jays pulled him after he loaded the bases (having allowed five hits against seven strikeouts and charged with four runs). They brought in Tim Mayza, and within four pitches, the vibe of Rogers Centre went from rowdy and jubilant to sombre and concerned. Mayza threw a wild pitch that scored one Mariner, then a slider that Santana blistered for a three-run homer. Suddenly, Toronto’s comfy 8-1 lead narrowed into an uncomfortable 8-5 one.

The Jays soothed their fans’ worries a little in the seventh when Danny Jansen clubbed an RBI single to score Hernandez. But the Mariners were not rolling over.

Toronto reliever Anthony Bass gave up another run. With two runners on, and zero out, in the eight inning Toronto had a 9-6 lead and called for their star closer Jordan Romano to get them the six outs needed to save the season.

Romano put another runner on before Seattle’s hottest batter of the day came to the plate – Santana. Every Jays fan in the stadium was on their feet, blue rally towels waving. Romano worked him and struck him out. Then he struck out Dylan Moore as well.

But then came the most dramatic play in this wild contest.

Seattle’s J.P. Crawford looped a flyball into shallow middle field and Bichette and Springer both sprinted after the same ball, the shortstop and the centre fielder colliding violently as the ball dropped between them. Three Seattle runs scored to tie the game 9-9. Medical staff dashed out to tend to the injured Blue Jays, and every Blue Jay on the field scrambled out in concern to look on the injured players as they lay on the turf.

Bichette clutched his arm but stayed in the game. Springer was helped onto a cart, looking pained and watery-eyed as he left the field. The stadium was silent, fans clutching their heads and staring on in disbelief.

“He’s doing okay. He’s going to be evaluated for a couple of different things,” said Schneider of Springer after the game. “He said some nice things to his teammates just now, so we’ll know more in the next couple of days.”

Romano collected himself and earned the third strikeout.

Bichette got in base with a walk in the eighth and stole second, then got stranded at third.

Romano, back on the mound for the ninth, gave up Seattle’s go-ahead run. Adam Cimber got Jays out of it, and the Jays headed to the plate in the ninth needing one run to keep their season alive.

Four Toronto batters came up in that do-or-die inning, and only Matt Chapman got on by, via a walk. Hernandez grounded out, Jansen struck out, and Raimel Tapia lined out to the field. All that scoring they did earlier in the day just dried up.

“Baseball sucks sometimes, and this group will be back in the exact same spot very, very soon,” said Jays interim manager John Schneider. “As much as it sucks right now, it will make that group better.”

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Croatian coach feels disrespected by Canadian coach's comment at FIFA World Cup – Toronto Sun

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DOHA, Qatar — Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic said he felt disrespected by Canada head coach John Herdman for his comment in a group huddle following a loss to Belgium on Wednesday.

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After the emotional 1-0 loss at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Herdman gathered his troops on the field and gave an impassioned speech.

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When asked following the game what he told his team, Herdman admitted he told his group to ‘F’ Croatia, in reference to Canada’s second game at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

On the eve of the game Sunday (11 a.m. ET) at the Khalifa International Stadium, Croatian coach Zlatko Zlatko Dalic was again asked about the comment at the pre-match press conference here on Saturday.

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“Canadians must have respect for us and this way of putting words together is not a sign of respect,” Dalic said through an interpreter. “We are the runners up (2018 World Cup), it wasn’t Brazil or Spain or any other country. We are the runners up, we were second in the world, we are worth of respect the way we played, the way we behave, the way we respect all others, is the reason we are worthy or respect.

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“I shall not focus or comment on other people’s comment. We will be prepared, be fit and we will demonstrate respect from Canada and from everyone else. We expect respect just as we exercise this view.”

Croatia was a surprising World Cup finalist four years ago in Russia, beating England in the semifinal before losing to France. Along the way, Croatia also beat Argentina in the group stage.

Croatia was held to a scoreless draw in its opening match by Morocco on Wednesday. Croatia concluded the group stage against Belgium on Thursday.

“The Croatia team deserves respect from everyone; we have proven that by the way we’ve played with our conduct at the World Cup; since the very beginning we’ve deserved respect and dignity,” Dalic said. “We have two (World Cup) medals in the last 30 years and we’re up there with Germany and France and countries like that have such an achievement. We respect everyone equally so we expect our opposing teams to respect us. We are worth of their respect.”

Croatia striker Ivan Perisic was also asked for his thoughts on Herdman’s comments.

“I second the head coach,” he said. “And I cannot wait for the match to begin.”

Email: dvandiest@postmedia.com

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