It was from the visiting team’s dugout canoe as the Toronto Blue Jays, in danger of wasting a 6-1 lead, finally closed the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 on Sunday to cap what had otherwise been a sad four-game position and take a six-game losing streak.
Six stellar innings from pitcher Taijuan Walker and a two-run blast from Teoscar Hernandez helped the struggling Jays finally stop the bleeding and catch up on what has been an unlikely attempt to secure a place in post- season.
For a minute there, even manager Charlie Montoyo wasn’t sure he could pull it off.
“It’s funny, because when you go on a losing streak you always expect the worst,” Montoyo said after the game.
A few muffled catches from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., a third baseman who always tries to find his feet early on, for a moment felt like they could have been the opening the Phillies have been waiting for, he said. he declares.
“By the time we made these mistakes in the seventh inning, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen?’ ‘
The Phillies drew less than three in the seventh after reliever Thomas Hatch loaded up the bases, helped when Guerrero Jr., escaped the pitch first on a Rafael Marchan single. Guerrero missed another pitch three games later, allowing Alec Bohm to lead in two before being sent off in second.
This brought Travis Shaw to first base and reliever Shun Yamaguchi to the mound midway through the eighth, when he made two strikeouts but walked two before substitute Anthony Bass helped secure the final. the sleeve.
“I knew he wasn’t going to hit again – if he was going to hit in the eighth, I would be like, ‘I don’t want to lose this bat,” Montoyo said of the decision to replace Guerrero Jr., first.
“But also, I know we needed a defense there at the end, and he’s just learning to play the position. I know Shaw is pretty good there, which is why we made this decision.
Montoyo has confirmed that Matt Shoemaker, who tore his knee last April and missed the remainder of the 2019 season, will get the ball when the Jays start a four-game home stint against the mighty New York Yankees on Monday night. in Buffalo.
But Sunday night belonged to Walker, who netted eight strikeouts in six innings with just four hits and one run, throwing 104 shots and 66 strokes.
“My only goal was to win the game today – I wanted to go there, set the tone, just beat the zone and give my team the best chance of winning,” he said afterwards.
“I try to make it my game plan every game, I just try to attack the zone. I’m not trying to be too cute, I’m not trying to pick the corners or whatever. I really try to stay in the plate with all my throws and get them to put the ball into play.
The return to the health of the pitching staff is good news for a team trying to turn the ship around to secure a playoff spot first and then deliver a decent performance once there. Pitching coach Paul Walker said Canadian-born Nate Pearson and Jordan Romano are also set to join the roster.
Pearson, who extended his arm last month, will likely pitch for an inning or two on Monday, Walker said.
The Jays struck early in the first after Bo Bichette pierced a double from first baseman Alec Bohm’s glove, sending Cavan Biggio to third place and setting up RBIs for Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
The Phillies also quickly made it into the table when Hernandez dropped a shot from Didi Gregorius on the right wall of the pitch. The Jays failed to capitalize on the odds early in the second, charging the bases twice. Only Joe Panik managed to try to get home, where he was sent off after Bichette’s glance left the ball within reach of Medina.
But they scored two more runs in the sixth when Adam Haseley couldn’t handle a drifting brace from Jonathan Davis, behind the wheel of Gurriel Jr., and Panik to make it 4-1.
“You can tell from the reaction in the dugout the guys were – I guess you could say relieved,” Davis said of the game afterward.
“When you feel like people are pushing you around a bit, it’s good to be able to get some air.”
Bichette used the right field wall again in the seventh, nearly hitting the seats with a stroke that ultimately stayed in the park but put him in third before a central homer from Hernandez gave the Jays a lead of five points.
The only problem with Walker’s solid exit was a mistake in the bottom of the fourth, when he escaped a line practice from Scott Kingery and it should have been an easy out early in a single for the young second-placed player. goal.
Hernandez was left limping in pain but remained in the game halfway down the bottom of the fifth after slamming into the wall in the middle of a daring take on a deep ball from Andrew McCutchen. Montoyo said he hit the concrete foot of the wall with his toe.