|Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures|
Unlike Saturday’s game, the Blue Jays couldn't blame this one on Bob Davidson. This collapse against the Mariners was their own doing. Admittedly, I drifted away from the game for a bit to play some MLB 11 The Show (I'm still in the minor leagues).
Once I saw the Blue Jays had a seven run lead against the lowest scoring team in the major leagues last year, I figured a seven runs was fairly safe in the hands of the Blue Jays bullpen. To my dismay, that was not the case.
All they needed to do was collect 12 more outs without giving up more than six runs to maintain the lead. And as the night progressed, those outs became harder and harder to come by.
Even after Mr. Groundball Shawn Camp came in and saved the day by inducing an inning-ending double play, I was still confident they could shut the door in the ninth. Dozing off for what seems like a moment, I awoke to see the Seattle Mariners celebrating a walk-off win.
I don't want to blame the collapse on just one guy because it was a joint effort between David Purcey, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski. Issuing four walks and giving up three singles in a single inning helped the Mariners claw their way back within a run.
John Farrell’s decision to intentionally walk Ichiro was also a little perplexing. Putting the winning run on base is never a wise idea, but approaching it from Farrell’s standpoint, I think I can understand his reasoning behind the decision.
With a depleted bullpen, I believe Shawn Camp was the only relief pitcher available in the bullpen anyway. Camp had appeared in the past 5 of 7 games, so Farrell may have been hesitant to bring Camp in, but leaving Rzepczynski out there was not an option.
So after a 2-0 count, rather than tempting fate and continuing the at bat with Ichiro, Farrell called for Camp to give him the free pass. At this point, every pitch matters and perhaps Farrell thought going for broke on Luis Rodriguez would be better served that battling with Ichiro?
Even if Shawn Camp escapes the inning and only gives up the tying run, he’s still the only option to pitch the 10th inning and beyond. At that point, you’re getting into dangerous territory bringing out Camp back out for a third inning of work, having appeared in the past 5 of 7 games. Albeit, Shawn only throw one pitch in the eighth.
Not to say John Farrell was employing Cito’s infamous “lose one to win two later” philosophy, but as a former pitcher and pitching coach himself, its feasible that Farrell was trying to protect his reliever by ending the game right then and there; whether it be via a win or a walk-off loss.
That’s just my own hair-brain theory as to an explanation for the loss. Or for an explanation that's 500 words less, the bullpen coughed up that game.