Short bench ties Gibbons’ hands

Last night I took a look at Dustin McGowan’s admission that right now he doesn’t have the stamina to get beyond 60-65 pitches, and the wider effects short starts from him and others have on the Toronto Blue Jays in general.

In particular the short bench seems at times to be tying the hands of manager John Gibbons, who must time his moves carefully, since he doesn’t have many hands to play.

I thought his explanation of why he burned his bench in the seventh inning with two on, two out and Ryan Goins coming to the plate in Wednesday’s 10-8 loss to the Baltimore Orioles interesting. With lefty Brian Matusz on mound, Gibbons sent Moises Sierra up to hit, prompting Buck Showalter to counter with righty Darren O’Day. Gibbons, in turn, sent up Josh Thole, who singled home a run to make it 10-8. Still, that put Jonathan Diaz in for Thole to play second base, clearing out the bench.

How does he decide when to take his shot?

“We had two guys on and O’Day is coming in and you definitely want a left-hander facing O’Day,” Gibbons explained. “We sent Sierra up there, they bring in O’Day, we go to Thole who’s been as hot as anybody on the team, he got the big hit to keep the inning going and then Jose (Reyes), he just missed that ball down the left-field line. That was the shot, I thought, because you never really know how it’s going to develop. They’re pretty good in that bullpen late, too. I thought Johnny was going to be the guy (in the ninth). He hit it hard, they just turned the double play on him. We had some real good at-bats against (Tommy) Hunter to at least give ourselves a chance.”

In case you haven’t noticed Josh Thole is off to some kind of a start. He was really candid with me in discussing how bad his 2013 season was, his process of self-evaluation, and why he feels things are different.

Thole really matters for this team because if he’s not effective, the Blue Jays will be reluctant to give Dioner Navarro the days off he’ll need to remain effective deep into the season.

Drew Hutchison (1-1, 3.60 ERA) starts Thursday’s series finale versus Bud Norris (0-2, 4.42 ERA) for the Orioles. The Blue Jays are 3-2-1 in series thus far.

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