GOINS THE HERO IN NINTH AS JAYS RELY ON BULLPEN AGAIN
The last thing Toronto’s overworked bullpen corps needed was another long night.
But Francisco Liriano was pitching — without injured Russell Martin behind the plate — and predictably had a short outing, forcing the relievers to dig deep and do masterful work.
Liriano gave up seven earned runs in two innings Wednesday, starting and ending his night in extremely poor fashion, but the Blue Jays rallied twice before Ryan Goins recorded a basesloaded walkoff hit in the bottom of the ninth to win the game 8-7.
The Toronto bullpen held Cleveland to 4-for-23 hitting after the third inning and though the visitors got good work from their relievers, too, Goins’ third well-hit ball of the evening stood up, giving Roberto Osuna the win and the 13-21 Jays back-to-back series wins for the first time this season.
The rare doses of good news didn’t stop there for Toronto. Jose Bautista smashed a threerun home run in the first after Cleveland notched two runs off of Liriano.
The one-time home run king ended an 0-for-21 slump Tuesday with a single in the seventh inning. It was one of the worst droughts of his career. He had not hit a home run since May 1 against the Yankees until blasting his third against Cleveland starter Danny Salazar — who didn’t last long, either.
Reliever Dan Otero could not hold the reclaimed lead, surrendering an Ezequiel Carrera homer after Darwin Barney hustled out a double to knot the game at seven.
Things settled down significantly after those early fireworks until the Jays loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth.
Liriano saw his ERA balloon from 4.44 to 6.35. The quick exit was troublesome because only one AL squad had used its bullpen more so far this season heading into the game.
The Jays were interested to see how Luke Maile would fare catching Liriano. The early answer was “not good” as Liriano gave up a walk, a single and a double before recording his first out, spotting Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
The second inning was fine, but Liriano issued his second leadoff walk to begin the third, then gave up a pair of singles as Cleveland knotted the score before walking Edwin Encarnacion, which got Dominic Leone warming up in the bullpen. Liriano gave up another RBI single after pitching coach Pete Walker was ejected by umpire Vic Carapazza for arguing a potential third strike, and that was that for Liriano.
Brandon Guyer then cleared the bases with a double off of Leone, but was thrown out as he dove headfirst into third.
Now, the suddenly functioning Blue Jays will be buoyed by the returns of top starter Aaron Sanchez Sunday and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki as soon as Wednesday in Atlanta.
A LOT OF DEAD MONEY
With Kendrys Morales out of the lineup due to his hamstring issue, the team had more than 45 per cent of its payroll out injured (or about $82 million).
That figure includes Morales, Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Sanchez (who is a key player, but is not yet making much), Russell Martin, J.A. Happ and others.
You don’t often see a team lose so many crucial cogs at the same time.
AROUND THE BASES
Right before the first pitch of the game, a leather-lunged fan could be heard bellowing: “Cleveland sucks.” Someone also loudly heckled Edwin Encarnacion for turning down Toronto’s initial offer in free agency … Gibbons on Goins and Barney seizing the opportunities presented to them due to all of the Toronto injuries: “Up here, (in the Major Leagues) everybody thinks they are an everyday player. That’s not how it works. Those guys are looking for more time to begin with so they need to do something with it and they have,” Gibbons said. Barney had hit .340 with a .809 OPS in 18 games as a starter before Wednesday … Bautista’s home run was tracked at 117.6 m.p.h. off the bat, his fastest on a homer since ESPN began tracking in 2009.
Ezequiel Carrera smacked a two-run home run in the fourth inning during the Toronto Blue Jays’ wild 8-7 win over the visiting Cleveland Indians at Rogers Centre Wednesday night.