When the Blue Jays suffer an incredibly disheartening loss like they did yesterday, naturally fans want answers as to what went wrong. They want a scapegoat; they want someone to blame for the mess that was a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
And most of those pitchforks were pointed squarely at one man: Jose Bautista. His ejection in the sixth inning set off a very strange chain of events which may or may not have had an impact on the game.
Nolan Reimold came in as his replacement and then proceeded to misplay a routine fly ball in right field. Not only did that play allow the winning run, but Nolan Reimold was the last Blue Jay to hit in the game, a spot originally occupied by Jose Bautista.
Looking at it just on the surface, one might say that Jose Bautista cost the Blue Jays that game. But did he really? No.
If Bautista wasn't tossed from the game, does he make the catch that Nolan Reimold didn't? Probably, but Reimold should have made that catch, plain and simple.
If Bautista wasn't tossed from the game, does he tie the game in the bottom of the 10th inning with a runner on third base and two out? Perhaps.
I just look at that game and there were so many other mitigating factors which contributed towards the Blue Jays loss, that Jose Bautista's ejection was just one small part of it.
How about the fact that Toronto left eight men on base and were 1 for 10 on the afternoon? How about the fact that they had runners on first and third with nobody out in the 10th, and they failed to capitalize?
The Tampa Bay Rays practically handed them the game in that inning; the Blue Jays were gifted two outs after James Loney made an error at first base. Then Munenori Kawasaki's bunt attempt was nearly popped up, which could have been disastrous.
Instead, the Blue Jays had the tying run at third base and nobody out with the top of their lineup coming to the plate. Reyes and Melky then proceeded to get two soft outs on two soft swings. Reimold struck out, but at least he had a five pitch at bat.
So with all those things taken into consideration, is it really fair to place all the blame solely on Jose Bautista's shoulders? I don't think so.
It's odd that the bottom of the Blue Jays order, which has been a black hole of production as of late, produced five of the Blue Jays' eight hits in total. So the top of the lineup should share some of the blame from that game.
The thing with Jose Bautista is he is an incredibly polarizing figure. No doubt, the narrative on the sports talk shows and in the papers will be "did Jose Bautista cost the Blue Jays the game?"
I would respond by saying his ejection set off an unfortunate chain of events, and the Blue Jays lost the game, but not because of that.
Bautista is not completely innocent here, by any means. While his temper with the umpires has remained relatively under wraps this season, we saw some his old bad habits surface yesterday.
Even in his postgame interview, Jose displayed shades of his "problems with someone else's mediocrity" rant from last year after he refused to admit what he said to home plate umpire Bill Welke.
The inherent issue is the Blue Jays are already under the gun; they have virtually no room for error if they want to make the postseason, and then they lost their best player for the final three innings of a close game.
It's easy to live and die by each game this late in the season when each win and loss are determining the fate of the Blue Jays.
The optics of Jose Bautista's ejection indeed looked bad, but it's just a small fraction of some poor overall baseball as of late by the Toronto Blue Jays.
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