Thole distraught over game-losing passed ball

Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

BALTIMORE _ When games used to reach the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda would yell into the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout:

“We got ‘em now ... we get two at-bats for every one they get.”

The first-place Baltimore Orioles didn’t score in the bottom of the ninth and the Blue Jays put up a zero in the top of the 10th. The O’s scored for a 4-3 win with two out in the bottom of the 10th before 15,404 fans at Camden Yards Wednesday night. 

Caleb Joseph doubled off reliever Joe Biagini, moved to third on an infield single by Joey Rickard, and scored on a Josh Thole passed ball. Could Thole have been crossed up by the Rule V rookie who a year ago was pitching for the double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels? 

“I didn’t catch the ball,” said a distraught Thole, who wasn’t throwing the rookie under the Greyhound Biagini was riding on last year. “Cross up or not crossed up, I didn’t catch it. 

“To grind all night and have that happen ...”

Biagini walked Manny Machado before his 1-1 sinker to Adam Jones kicked off Thole’s glove toward the Toronto dugout. From the Flying Squirrels into the frying pan.

“Josh caught some good knuckleballs, had a great at-bat in the sixth, fouled off a bunch of pitches and I thought he knocked in a run that was going to help us win a game,” said starter R.A. Dickey of Thole’s single where Ryan Goins was thrown out at the plate.    

CHANGING FORTUNES: The Jays were in great shape with men at second and third, none out in the first ... and failed to score. Michael Saunders went first to third on a Jose Bautista’s single challenging the arm of rookie left fielder Rickard, who skied the throw. Ubaldo Jimenez made the proper play backing up third and catching the ball on the fly. However, Jimenez went into sulk mode and hung his head. While hang down your head Ubaldo was taking place in foul ground, Bautista took off for second and was safe without a throw. Jimenez escaped trouble when he caught an Edwin Encarnacion liner and doubled Saunders off third.

And in the bottom half, 24 pitches into the game, Dickey was down 3-0. Rickard reached on an infield single six pitches in, Machado doubled him home hitting a 3-0 pitch to the wall in left scoring Rickard. After a seven-pitch walk to Adam Jones, Chris Davis singled in a run and Mark Trumbo bounced into a  double play making it 3-0. OK, raise your hand if you thought after 24 pitches Dickey would exit with the score tied with a quality start on his log book. Dickey allowed three runs on five hits and two walks while fanning four, lowering his ERA to 6.10.

“I can’t say ‘it’s just not my day,’ after a start like that,” said Dickey of his start. “There were some infield hits, I thought I was squeezed on a couple of pitches. It was a step forward.

“I’m glad I only gave up three runs, sad I didn’t go deeper into the game. I kept the ball in the park. 

RISPING THE NIGHT AWAY: The Jays went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position: Encarnacion lining out with Saunders on third in the first, Ryan Goins, Kevin Pillar and Josh Thole going down 1-2-3 after the Jays had the first two runners on in the second; Chris Colabello struck out to end the third with two aboard, Saunders fanned with Goins on second closing out the fourth; Donaldson and Bautista made outs in the seventh with Saunders in scoring position in the seventh and Colabello flew out to end the seventh and Goin hit in a double play with two men on in the 10th. 

TO TAG OR NOT TO TAG II: Being doubled off third in the first was not the only time Saunders had problems on the bases. He led off the seventh with a double, the third time he reached (single, walk). He advanced on a ground ball and was a few feet up the line as Orioles centre Adam Jones made a diving grab to steal an RBI from Bautista. As Saunders retreated, Jones quickly fired home and into foul ground -- but too late for Saunders to advance. Encarnacion got Saunders off the hook across the plate safely lining a double into the left field corner on a 1-0 pitch from Brad Brach.      

IN GAME: Thole threw out pinch runner Nolan Reimold attempting to steal second for the second out of the ninth ... Donaldson homered leading off the fifth to cut the Orioles lead to 3-2 ... Gavin Floyd worked two scoreless innings ... First baseman Colabello speared a Rickard liner to end the fifth.

EX ROCKIES MEET: Former Colorado shortstop singled, walked and flew out against former Rockies ace Jimenez. And there weren’t any hard feelings like in the spring of 2012 when Jimenez was with the Cleveland Indians and Tulowitzki was still with the Rockies. Jimenez hit Tulowitzki on the left elbow with a first-pitch fastball, the benches emptied and Rockies manager Jim Tracy described it as “the most gutless act” he had seen in 35 years in pro ball.

Jimenez had asked to be traded a year before because he felt the Rockies disrespected him by giving extensions to both Carlos Gonzalez and Tulowitzki but not to him, although the Rockies did give him options through 2014. 

Jimenez acted concerned that Tulowitzki was injured saying he was sorry and calling the shortstop one of the “superstar players in the game.”

BORN IN THE USA: The P.A. system piped in Bruce Springsteen music early in the game. It wasn’t carry over from a few blocks away where Springsteen was appearing with the E Street Band at the Royal Farms Arena. It’s a good thing Hall of Fame manager Paul Molitor didn’t have his Minnesota Twins in town ... he may have got ejected early and headed over to West Baltimore Street.   

REMEMBER WHEN: Way back in the spring when the Blue Jays had talks with the Cincinnati Reds about acquiring slugging outfielder Jay Bruce in a three-team deal, the Los Angeles Angels were supposed to wind up with Saunders. The Jays now claim Saunders has a “bigger up side” than Bruce. One of the minor leaguers supposed to head to the Reds was infielder Mitch Nay.

Saunders is now the Jays lead-off hitter, although as John Gibbons said Wednesday Saunders is not a traditional lead-off hitter (the Jays pinch ran Ezequiel Carrera for Saunders on Tuesday). Saunders has one homer, four RBIs is batting .289 with an .827 OPS, while Bruce has three homers, 13 RBIs, a .278 average and an .817 OPS. A first round pick (58th overall) in 2012 Nay had five homers, 42 RBIs while batting .243 at class-A Dunedin last year. Nay is on the Dunedin disabled list.