TORONTO – In the span of 53 seconds Wednesday evening, home runs on consecutive pitches gave the Blue Jays a narrow lead and the chance to end a challenging road trip with a comeback win. It didn’t take much longer than that for the Blue Jays’ bullpen to blow it.
With that, a three-city road trip that began with high hopes ended with yet another devastating loss and the Blue Jays will return home to Toronto on the fringes of the wild card race while they manage some significant injuries and attempt to navigate the late innings without enough relievers deserving of trust.
The road trip started well enough with wins in two of the first three games against the Angels. But a loss in the series finale in Anaheim resulted in a series split, and things would only get worse in Seattle.
Not only did the Blue Jays lose two of three to the Mariners, they lost George Springer to an injury the team initially hoped might be minor. Again, though, things deteriorated. A grade 1 left knee sprain forced Springer to the injured list for an undetermined period of time and the Blue Jays lost the opener at Nationals Park.
Still, they had a chance to return home on a winning note. Thanks to Corey Dickerson, who tied the game 4-4 with a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning, and Marcus Semien, who was circling the bases less than a minute later while a stunned Ryne Harper looked on, the Blue Jays were able to hand their bullpen a lead late in the game.
But Brad Hand immediately allowed two home runs as the Nationals scored four in the seventh on their way to an 8-5 win and a two-game series sweep over Toronto. As if to reinforce just how completely the Blue Jays lost the Hand trade, Riley Adams, the 25-year-old catcher who went to Washington in the deadline deal for the left-hander, collected two more hits after homering against his former team Tuesday.
“Most of the guys in the bullpen are kind of struggling right now,” manager Charlie Montoyo said afterwards. “I trust Brad Hand to make an adjustment. He’s been around. He’s been a closer before. He’s been good and bad and of course today he was not good. That’s a fact, but I trust he can make an adjustment and do better next outing.”
All in all, an awful way to end a frustrating 3-6 trip. Not only are the Blue Jays a worse team (no Springer), they have a worse record (63-56) and less time remaining to make up ground (43 games remain after Wednesday). Under those circumstances, their playoff odds (21.8 per cent entering play Wednesday, according to FanGraphs) are dropping at an uncomfortably quick pace.
“We are human,” starter Jose Berrios said. “We go out there and compete as a team … we just go out there and play hard. And yeah, that’s what I’ve got in mind every time I go out there. I want to do my best and help the team try to bring a win.”
While Berrios had only thrown 88 pitches when he exited, he told Montoyo he was ready to hand it over to the bullpen after five on a humid day in D.C.
Of course there’s still some time for the Blue Jays to make a run. They have a deep rotation, including Berrios, who pitched five strong innings of two-run baseball Wednesday. And even without Springer, their lineup is powerful, as evidenced by the four home runs they hit. Teoscar Hernandez hit the first of the day and the Blue Jays would later get home runs from Dickerson and Semien, who hit two.
To deny the potential for further hot streaks would be reactive rather than rational. But as Wednesday’s loss reminded anyone watching, there’s just not enough trustworthy relief pitching on this staff right now. Activating Tim Mayza helps in that regard, as does parting ways with Rafael Dolis, whose command issues cost him his roster spot before the game, but season-long issues can’t be reversed with one move.
“Somebody’s got to step up,” Montoyo said. “Our bullpen needs to start doing better. But the mood in there is still good,” Montoyo said, gesturing toward the visiting clubhouse. “We played good last time we were home so maybe that’s going to get us going on the right track.”
More encouraging for the Blue Jays was the big-league debut of Kevin Smith, the 25-year-old infield prospect who batted .286/.371/.576 with 19 home runs at triple-A before striking out in his big-league debut Wednesday. Like the recently-promoted Otto Lopez, Smith has the versatility to play both the infield and outfield if needed.
By Wednesday night the Blue Jays will be back in Toronto with an off-day to reset before the Detroit Tigers arrive for a three-game weekend series. It’s another opportunity against a far lesser team, only this time the Blue Jays aren’t quite as well positioned to take advantage of it.
“We’ve got to get back to pitching well,” Montoyo said. “That’s how we’re going to win games.”
Sick Jon Rahm withdraws from Fortinet Championship's Wednesday pro-am – Golf Channel
World No. 1 Jon Rahm withdrew from the Fortinet Championship’s Wednesday pro-am because of a stomach illness.
Rahm was supposed to tee off at 8:40 a.m. PST and moved his press conference to 2 p.m. But he then canceled his pre-tournament presser altogether and the Tour announced he would not appear at Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course at all on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old Spaniard is scheduled to tee off at 7:44 a.m. local time in Round 1.
After competing this week in Napa Valley at the PGA Tour’s season opener, Rahm is expected to travel to Whistling Straights, Wisconsin, for next week’s Ryder Cup.
Oilers Rookie Notebook: Dylan Holloway’s wrist injury a tough blow – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — The first blow came even before Edmonton Oilers rookie camp had opened, with prized prospect Dylan Holloway going under the knife Tuesday to repair a broken scaphoid bone in his left wrist.
What made it even more disappointing was, after busting the bone in the NCAA playoffs with the University of Wisconsin, Holloway had surgery after Wisconsin’s season ended in late March in Chicago that was designed to have him ready to play hockey this fall. But that surgery failed.
Holloway, Edmonton’s first-round pick in 2020 (14th overall) lunched with Holland during a Calgary world junior camp in August, and the Oilers GM didn’t like what he heard.
“He was telling me that he couldn’t shoot, couldn’t take draws. He was getting frustrated,” Holland said. “We were five to six months down the road … and there was very little healing going on. Probably about 30 per cent. The decision was made: nothing was really happening, and we’d need to start the process all over again.”
Holloway is only 19, but can play in the American Hockey League. He was likely destined for Bakersfield this year, which is definitely where he will be assigned when he heals up sometime around the new year.
No Room At The Inn
The Oilers roster is pretty much set with veterans, with precious few (if any) spots for a youngster to worm his way into the NHL.
But two left shot defencemen who may have the best shot — along with left winger Tyler Benson — are both in town and ready to begin their North American transition in earnest. Dmitri Samorukov and Philip Broberg are at the Rookie Camp prep’ing for main camp, where it isn’t a total reach that one might be able to stick around.
“They’re both going to be in North America,” said Holland, who had good news when doctors cleared Samorukov for full contact after a January shoulder injury suffered in Moscow. “He was playing very well in the KHL, but hasn’t played hockey since January. Two years of pro — one in Bakersfield, one in (the KHL) — and I’m also excited to see where Broberg is at, like everybody else.
“Do they force their way onto the Edmonton Oilers roster? Or do they have to go down to the American League and continue their development into NHL defencemen? That’s what we’re trying to find out, but they are both here (in North America) to stay.”
Samorukov, 22, played a season in Bakersfield then went home to CSKA Moscow last year, the club where he was raised as a player. Broberg, 20, spent two developmental seasons in Sweden’s top league with Skelleftea, while limping through the 2021 World Junior here in Edmonton.
“I had a knee injury and a shoulder injury at the World Juniors. It was difficult,” said the defenceman, who played through the pain. “It is an honour to play for your country, especially at the World Juniors.”
Broberg said he was about “80 percent” when he returned to Skelleftea, and by season’s end, his minutes were down. Samorukov injured his shoulder in a January battle drill during practice and lost the back half of his KHL season, but says the last two seasons have him ready to challenge for a spot on an NHL blue line.
“When I first came to the AHL two years ago, it was really good for me. Learning how to be a pro player,” he said. “Then, the season in the KHL, I established myself as a pro player. Now, we’re trying to knock in the door. To do our best.”
Remember, Samorukov first came over as a 17-year-old to play three junior seasons for the Guelph Storm. He had 45 points in 59 games in his 19-year-old season and then nicely quarterbacked the Russian powerplay at the World Juniors in Vancouver-Victoria. But the 197-pounmder has settled on a less offensive game as a pro.
“Of course when you come from junior you have a lot of points. You think you might be something special,” he smiled. “Then you realize you have some guys who can really get points. (You learn) what kind of game you have to play. I know who I am right now.”
Samorukov was part of the ask by Arizona when they were peddling goalie Darcy Kuemper, a package considered too rich by Holland. Now, we’ll begin to get a closer look at the 2017 third-rounder, who moves a nice puck and stands six-foot-three.
“This rookie camp offers him a good chance to get up and running,” said Bakersfield head coach Jay Woodcroft, “so he’s feeling confident heading into main camp next week.”
Is this finally the year that Tyler Benson cracks the Oilers roster? It had better be — he is waiver eligible now, at age 23 years of age with four pro seasons under his belt.
With left wingers Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Warren Foegele in town, it’s pretty clear that Benson will have to make the club as a fourth-line left-winger and try to move up from there. He’s in against Devin Shore and Brendan Perlini for that 4-LW spot, as a former candidate for exceptional status as a junior now finds himself in a utility role if he wants to get his NHL career off the ground.
“We came up with a plan to develop different areas of his game (in Bakersfield last season),” Woodcroft said. “For example, his board work. Introducing him to the penalty kill. Something he had minimal experience on, but something we felt provided a line of sight or a pathway to … make our parent club.
“Tyler was a point-per-game player last year and played on what I felt was the most dominant line in the Pacific Division of the AHL. He made plays,” his coach said. “The opportunity before him is obvious. He feels like he’s in top shape, mentally ready to go, and he’s excited about that opportunity.”
Edmonton’s recent first-round pick (22nd overall) Xavier Bourgault hit the gym hard this summer, putting on 10 lbs. He comes to camp at six feet tall and 172 pounds, so he has a ways to go.
Blue Jays optimistic Jose Berrios won’t miss next start after abdominal scare – Sportsnet.ca
After the Blue Jays’ 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the team reported that Berrios left the game due to abdominal tightness on his left side and received post-game treatment.
Berrios threw seven innings of one run ball Tuesday, striking out six and allowing only four hits.
“He’s doing fine,” Montoyo said. “He’s doing a lot better than we thought, which is great news. Actually, you might get to see him playing catch in a little bit to see how he’s doing. He did all the tests. Everything looks good.”
The right-handed pitcher who the Blue Jays acquired at the trade deadline is 11-8 on the season, with a 3.43 ERA in 173.1 innings pitched.
The Blue Jays wrap up their series with the Rays on Wednesday at 3:07 p.m. ET/ 12:07 p.m. PT on Sportsnet and SN Now.
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