Blue Jays Takeaways: Osuna falters again in marathon loss

Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna kicks the dirt after giving up a run to the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park. (Winslow Townson/AP)

Hanley Ramirez was the walk-off hero in the bottom of the 19th inning. His flare single to shallow centre scored Mookie Betts’ lead-off double exactly six hours after the first pitch was thrown, handing the Blue Jays a 3-2 defeat for their third loss of this road trip, all of which came in extra innings.

It was a reprise for Ramirez, who walked off the Blue Jays in extras back on July 18th, taking Mike Bolsinger deep in the 15th inning.

Here are some things that stood out to me about the 19-inning marathon in Boston:

NOT SO MATATA

The post all-star break struggles of Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna continued, as he came in to work the bottom of the ninth and couldn’t hold a two-run lead, suffering his 10th blown save of the season and his seventh since the Midsummer Classic.

Osuna was in a heap of trouble almost immediately, issuing a lead-off walk to Andrew Benintendi and then giving up a double down the left-field line to Betts to put Red Sox at second and third with nobody out.

The 22 year-old then got three straight ground balls, the first two going for run-scoring outs, and the game was tied. Osuna struck out Rafael Devers to send the game to extra innings, where the Blue Jays’ bullpen threw nine shutout innings but the Red Sox relievers threw 10.

Osuna blew three save opportunities in April, when he was going through what would be spring training for most, as he hardly pitched in March then started the season on the disabled list with neck spasms. From April 29th to July 17th, Osuna converted 22 straight save opportunities before running into this current slump.

The streak ended on July 18th at Fenway Park when Osuna came on in the 11th inning, the Blue Jays having just taken a 4-3 lead. He allowed back to back singles to lead off the frame, then struck out a pair and was an out away from nailing it down but Betts got him for a game-tying single to right.

The Red Sox eventually won that game, as described above.

From that day on, Osuna has blown seven saves while converting only twelve. His overall numbers from that point aren’t horrible – in 21.2 innings, he’s allowed 25 hits (only one home run) and five walks, striking out 27. That ERA of 6.22, though….

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Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup
Osuna's performance "one of the many confounding aspects of this Blue Jays season"
Originally aired September 06 2017

UMP SHOW

With frustrations growing long and tempers growing short, Josh Donaldson led off the 18th inning and took the first pitch. He thought it was up and in. Home plate umpire Marvin Hudson disagreed.

Donaldson looked back at Hudson for a minute, then turned back around to face the pitcher, Carson Smith, but continued to engage in the discussion. Hudson had enough, stepped out from behind the plate and sent the Blue Jays’ third baseman to the showers for the evening.

Donaldson had to be restrained by acting manager DeMarlo Hale after he demonstrated to Hudson just how far off the plate he believed the pitch was. Miguel Montero took over the at-bat and went behind the plate for the rest of the night and, with the Blue Jays’ bench thus empty, Raffy Lopez finished up at third base.

Hudson has to be better in that situation. The ejection of any player, let alone a star player, especially deep in extra innings, should require a rather egregious transgression. Players are going to be upset, umpires are supposed to be the ones in charge. Being in charge involves executing good judgement – even when it’s been a long night and you’ve been on your feet for almost six hours – which Hudson, no matter how much his feelings were hurt by what Donaldson may have said to him, did not do.

Umpire Marvin Hudson yells at Donaldson after throwing him out of the game. (Winslow Townson/AP)

TASTE OF HIS OWN MEDICINE

The Blue Jays had a chance to take the lead in extra innings when Justin Smoak came to the plate with runners on the corners and one out in the top of the 11th. All Smoak needed was to hit one in the air somewhere to score Jose Bautista from third and he did. He just hit it to the wrong guy.

Smoak lifted a fly ball to medium-deep centre field, but that’s where Jackie Bradley, Jr. and the cannon attached to his right arm reside. Bautista tagged and Bradley unleashed a laser beam that easily cleared the mound and one-hopped into the glove of catcher Sandy Leon in plenty of time to erase Bautista and end the inning.

In his heyday, Bautista did that very thing so many times to opposing baserunners. Tuesday night he found out how the other half lives.

ESTRADA MUY BIEN

Marco Estrada had his best outing of the season with seven dominant innings that were long forgotten by the time the game came to an end.

It was an unusual beginning to an Estrada start, as he induced three ground balls in the first inning – one went through for a single, but another was turned into an inning-ending double play by Richard Urena, who was making his first major-league start at shortstop.

Over the next six innings, Estrada allowed the Red Sox to hit just four more balls on the ground, while inducing six pop-ups, a couple of lazy fly balls and striking out three.

The righty wrapped up his outing by retiring the final 10 hitters he faced and 14 of the last 15, allowing naught but a walk after the third inning, and was in line to pick up his third straight winning decision until things went sideways in the ninth.

Estrada went seven innings for the first time in five starts, and just the fifth time in 13 outings since June 24th.

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SUPER RELIEF WORK

September call-up Luis Santos continued to impress, throwing two shutout innings in extras in just his second appearance in the big leagues.

Santos made his debut in Baltimore on Saturday night, throwing three innings of one-hit, scoreless ball before coming back out for a fourth frame and allowing a lead-off home run to Seth Smith. In Boston, Santos came in to work the bottom of the 11th, following a shutout frame by Tom Koehler. The first batter he faced was Betts, and the righty walked him on four pitches, but Betts was the last Bostonian to reach against the 26 year-old.

The rookie got a lazy fly, weak comebacker and strikeout to strand the runner, then came out and threw a perfect 12th, sandwiching a couple of fly ball outs around a strikeout of Bradley before giving way to Matt Dermody for the 13th.

The rookie lefty picked up Santos beautifully, throwing three steady innings to keep the game going and then handing things off to fellow freshman Chris Rowley, who delivered three innings of one-hit shutout before coming back out for the 19th and giving up the winning run.

STAY HOT, MR. DH

Kendrys Morales started this road trip with a three-homer night in Baltimore, went deep again in Monday night’s opener at Fenway, and found the seats on Tuesday night, as well.

The switch-hitter led off the seventh inning by blasting an Eduardo Rodriguez fastball deep into the Boston night. His 27th home run of the season gave the Blue Jays some much-needed insurance, doubling what was a tenuous 1-0 lead even with Estrada throwing up the zeroes with aplomb.

It was Morales’ fifth home run of the road trip, on which the Blue Jays are 3-3 with one game remaining. He’s driven in 13 runs over the six games, hitting just .241 with an on-base percentage of only .258. Morales’ slugging percentage for the road trip, though, is a very pretty .793.