General manager Ross Atkins should be working the phones, scouring the waiver wire and taking a look at some of the kids on the farm because right now, the big league bullpen needs help and it doesn’t appear as if the current problems are going to be solved by the current group. Sunday afternoon in the rubber match of Toronto’s series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a 2-1 lead after seven turned into a 4-2 loss after starter Marco Estrada exited the game and the bullpen took over.
Drew Storen couldn’t get an out, giving up a leadoff walk to Chase Utley and a ground-rule double to Corey Seager before manager John Gibbons had seen enough. Closer Roberto Osuna took over, but couldn’t strand the runners, allowing a sacrifice fly and a single to shallow right, cashing the two men Storen allowed on base and giving the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.
Los Angeles would add one more in the ninth, where Toronto used another three pitchers in order to get out of the inning. In total, the five relievers that combined to pitch the eighth and ninth gave up more hits, as many walks and more runs than Estrada allowed over his seven innings of work. That is unacceptable and something that has to be addressed now before more of these games get away from the Blue Jays.
Sunday’s loss doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the bullpen though, as the bats failed to come through for a second consecutive game as well. On Saturday, three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw limited the Blue Jays, but in the finale, it was rookie Ross Stripling that kept Toronto from mustering much offense.
The home side opened the scoring in the second when Ryan Goins grounded out, cashing Kevin Pillar from third, and went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th when Justin Smoak came home on a Pillar single and an error by Trayce Thompson. Outside of those innings, however, Toronto managed just three hits, with the Donaldson/Bautista/Encarnacion troika going 0-for-12, Troy Tulowitzki again failing to register a hit and Russell Martin posting another 0-for afternoon after a couple games having success at the dish.
And they struck out nine more times.
Two days after they were punishing the ball and putting up 11 runs, Toronto is back to struggling at the plate and with the bullpen continuing to turn leads into losses, something has got to give or else this year will get away from the Blue Jays and become a major disappointment.
Player of the Game: Marco Estrada
The truly crushing part of Toronto’s struggles at the dish and continued issues in the bullpen is that the Blue Jays have been getting terrific starting pitching for the majority of the season and did again on Sunday.
You can’t ask for much more from your starter than one run, two walks and three hits over seven innings, which is what Estrada delivered against the Dodgers, but once again, he came away with a no decision. Toronto has managed just 12 runs of supporter for the righty in his six starts this season, which makes it hard to capitalize on Estrada’s run of strong starts.
On Deck: Toronto follows the Dodgers to the West Coast for a quick three-game interleague series with the San Francisco Giants starting Monday. Aaron Sanchez (2-1, 2.82) takes the ball for the Blue Jays, while the Giants counter with veteran Jake Peavy (1-3, 9.00).