TORONTO – The tendency in the moment with these sorts of things is for the visceral reaction to events as they happen to cloud sounder judgment. Hence, the devastation over the double blows of Melky Cabrera’s broken pinky and Casey Janssen’s latest blown save in the Toronto Blue Jays painful and troubling 9-8 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
Sure this one stung more than most given that leads of 2-0, 6-3 and 8-6 were all squandered away during three hours and 53 minutes of compelling baseball. And the injury to Cabrera – who suffered a fracture with an avulsion of the extensor tendon in his right pinky, and is slated for season-ending surgery next week – makes the Blue Jays’ nearly impossible post-season dreams even less likely.
But at minimum, the Blue Jays must use their remaining 22 games to gain experience playing September baseball of some consequence, and in facing adversity when the heat is on highest. The disappointment of 2014 will be all the worse if it isn’t paying forward a few things for 2015.
That’s why any devastation felt Friday needs to stay there, no matter the repercussions elsewhere.
Speaking of staying, Cabrera’s comments about his future after the loss were especially noteworthy. Generally the pending free agent speaks through an interpreter, usually third base coach Luis Rivera, and he was there when Cabrera spoke to reporters Friday.
But when asked about his future, Cabrera eschewed the Spanish and replied in English: “I stay in Toronto.”
You want to stay?
Re-signing Cabrera may very well become an article of faith for certain portions of the fan-base, and how that plays out will be fascinating. The 30-year-old takes a .300 average, 171 hits, 16 homers and 73 RBIs into an open market weak on hitting, and the recent $73-million, six-year deal Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo signed with the Red Sox is sure to spike the market.
The loss of Cabrera may mean a new opportunity for Colby Rasmus, who was relegated to the bench earlier this week.
Rasmus is one of the Blue Jays capable of carrying the team during his hot stretches and the timing would be both great for the team, and for him, as taking that into free agency is much better than sitting in September.
Top prospect Daniel Norris made his big-league debut in the sixth inning, and he caught David Ortiz looking in his one and only batter faced.
Clearly overthrowing at times, Norris froze Ortiz with a 3-2 curveball that was as gutsy as it was beautiful. See below.
Janssen deserved a better fate Friday in the three-run 10th. This is how it went:
Mookie Betts – bleeder up the middle;
Xander Bogaerts – seeing-eye grounder through 5-6 hole;
Christian Vazquez – pop-up bunt over the head of a charging Juan Francisco for a single;
Will Middlebrooks – grounder through 5-6 hole to score one run;
Dustin Pedroia – soft liner to left field to score another;
David Ortiz – potential double-play grounder to second base that gets no outs when Steve Tolleson’s flip to Jose Reyes hits Middlebrooks;
Yoenis Cespedes – drive to centre filed to win it.
That’s seven batters, four ground balls, a couple of soft liners, and one laser beam with the count 3-2 and nowhere to put the runner. But nothing is going well for the right-hander at the moment, so everything breaks the other way.