By: Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
BALTIMORE _ They had lost on bobbles, bungled rundowns and bollixed fly balls.
They had lost ways the original New York Mets had never thought of in this their 40th season, yet in Maryland the Blue Jays found a different way of losing and then hit the repeat button.
After not losing on a passed ball in 25 years they fell Wednesday in the bottom of the 10th in a strange walk-off.
Pass the smelling salts granny, that sinker is headed for the backstop.
And on a crazy night 24 hours later when the Jays led from the 12th pitch of the game until the second out of the seventh, they lost due to another passed ball in the eighth.
Pass it on.
This was no way to end a trip.
The Baltimore Orioles edged the Blue Jays 3-2 before 17,644 fans at Camden Yards Thursday. The Jays spit four games at Fenway Park on the weekend against the Boston Red Sox and dropped two of three in Maryland to the first-place Orioles in a most unusual fashion.
“We played well on the trip, we were in every game,” Jose Bautista told reporters. “Our offence is capable of more. We have to put pressure on the other guy.”
As rare as the happening it is too simplistic an approach to blame the two losses on two passed balls. The Jays combined to bat 2-for-20 (.100) with men in scoring position the final two games.
“It doesn’t have to be the guy who’s hot, it doesn’t have to bee guy who’s cold, whoever is up there has to produce,” Bautista said. “We won the division last year. It’s time to show we can repeat.”
For some passed ball history from the past: the Jays were deadlocked playing the Detroit Tigers 4-4 at Tiger Stadium April 17, 1991 in the bottom of the 10th. Duane Ward recorded the first two outs. Pete Incaviglia singled, Milt Cuyler pinch ran, stealing second and advancing on catcher Pat Borders throwing error.
After an intentional walk, Borders was charged with a passed ball unable to handle Ward’s first pitch to Travis Fryman. Cuyler scored and for only the second time in franchise history the Jays lost on a passed ball.
Joey Rickard singled with one out in the eighth Thursday, moved to second on a Russell Martin passed ball and scored on Manny Machado’s bloop double inside the right field line out of the reach of Ryan Goins and Jose Bautista. When Brett Cecil retired escaped without any further hits the run was unearned.
And on Wednesday Josh Thole could not handle Joe Biagini’s 1-1 pitch and was charged with a passed ball, although the catcher was likely crossed up with a runner on second.
SLO-MO FIRST: The top and bottom of the first inning contained five base hits, including two doubles, three walks a hit batter (a pitch hit Martin, then plate ump Dan Bellino) three runs, five men left on base ... and oh 66 pitches.
Take it away Chris Tillman with the first of 38 pitches ... a ball to Michael Saunders, who singled and scored on a Josh Donaldson double. One out later Edwin Encarnacion walked, Martin was hit to load the bases and Smoak walked on the eighth pitch of his at-bat to force in a run for a 2-0 lead.
Take it away Marco Estrada with the first of your 28 pitches ... a ball to Rickard, who hit the ball so hard it ripped through the webbing on Donaldson’s glove, stole second (after Donaldson returned with a new mitt and a two minute and 33 second replay upheld the call) and scored on a Machado single. Adam Jones doubled over the head of centre fielder Kevin Pillar, who ran a route efficiency of 66.5% according to Statcast ... which we are told is not real good. Chris Davis walked to load the bases with none out.
How is your night so far Marco? Not bad. Estrada threw a 3-2 change for a called strike three. In the Baltimore broadcast booth it was described as a “favorable call,” while upstairs Joe Siddall said Martin did a “wonderful job” framing the pitch. Three pitches later Matt Wieters hit a grounder to Smoak, who started a 3-6-1 double play.
LITTLE DITTY, BOUT JACK AND DIANE: Pat Venditte, rhymes with ditty, took over in the sixth after Estrada’s early exit since Jesse Chavez’s back began bothering him Tuesday in the first inning playing catch from the bullpen with the Jays outfielders. Pitching right-handed he walked a man and allowed a single, but escaped when Machado bounced to second for the final out. Back out for the seventh he walked Davis -- his record fourth of the game -- left-handed. Pitching right-handed he hit Mark Trumbo and then Caleb Joseph singled loading the bases. J.J. Hardy hit a scoring fly ball to tie the score.
Now, we are used to seeing R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball float, dance, flutter and do the jitterbug at 75 mph the last four seasons
Venditte was at a different speed with his slider slip-sliding towards the plate at 70 mph. Venditte threw 31 pitches (19 for strikes). He threw three sinkers at 86 mph, seven at 85 and 16 in the 80 speed limit. The rest were in the 70s.
IN PLAY: After Encarnacion struck out in the eighth the sound system played that Ole, Ole song you hear at the Rogers Centre when Bautista comes to the plate but it was to salute reliever Darren O’Day for his efforts ... Estrada lasted only five innings allowing one run on six hits and four walks, while fanning nine. He threw 104 pitches (62 strikes). It is the first time in seven starts Estrada has only worked five innings when he pitched allowed four runs on six his and a walk on Sept. 12 facing the New York Yankees ...
Nolan Reimold complained about the trike zone after Venditte struck him out looking for the second out in the sixth ... Wieters was ejected when Bellino called strike three on a check swing with two out and two runners aboard. Manager Buck Showalter came out stick up for his catcher. Joseph took over behind the plate ... Troy Tulowitzki made carbon copy like plays: a diving stop of an Jones grounder leading off the seventh and a Machado grounder in the third. The 6-foot-3 shortstop righted himself and fired to first for the out in both cases.