Chess Match: Game 53

Breaking down a key moment in Monday’s 3-2 win over the Rays…

The situation: The Blue Jays are clinging to a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning. Left-hander Scott Downs has just allowed a run-scoring triple to B.J. Upton and Rays manager Joe Maddon is turning to Willy Aybar as a pinch hitter with one out.

The decision: Manager Cito Gaston turns to the bullpen and brings in Shawn Camp.

The outcome: Camp induces a groundout to second base off the bat of Aybar, scoring Upton to pull the Rays within one run. Camp then yields a single to Sean Rodriguez before escaping the inning with a groundout from Ben Zobrist. Jays closer Kevin Gregg survives a shaky ninth inning to seal the win.

The analysis: The eighth inning provided a classic manager vs. manager situation. First, Gaston pulled Brandon Morrow after the starter allowed a leadoff single to John Jaso, turning to Downs with Hank Blalock due up next. Maddon then turned to Gabe Kapler as a pinch hitter.

The managerial dance continued two batters later, when Maddon chose to go with Aybar over Reid Brignac and Gaston went with Camp over Downs. It was all about the percentages. Aybar was 2-for-3 with a home run in his career against the left-handed Downs and 0-for-2 lifetime against Camp.

My verdict: I thought Gaston handled the situation perfectly and Camp managed to play damage control in setting up the save situation for Gregg. Now, the bigger question might have been, “Why did Gaston pull Morrow after he’d only thrown 91 pitches in a game that saw the righty carry a no-hitter into the sixth?” Well, that answer rests in the fact that Hank Blalock (pulled in favor of Kapler as a pinch hitter vs. Downs) had gone 4-for-6 with one double and two home runs in his career against Morrow.


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  1. goodluckdoc

    I agree, but I think there was another crucial situation which was the play Longoria made on Aaron Hill’s hit and he knocked the ball down, not allowing lewis to move to 3rd. If longoria had not been able to make that play, lewis would have plated, hill would have been on second with no out and that would have changed the momentum and could have blown the game open.
    quite a few spectacular defensive plays by the Rays yesterday.

    We will need our bats to do even better today with Tallet on the mound. Hopefully he lasts 5 innings.

  2. gsjays

    I agree all the moves Cito made last night were the right ones. I also agree with his decision to move Overbay down in the lineup, the results speak for them self.

  3. goodluckdoc

    yes, i liked how cito and joe tried to outdo each other yesterday.

    did it seem that adam lind was nervous when he faced choate, perhaps it was there in the back of his mind that he hasn’t had success with choate and that choate was brought in specially to face him?

    also say the jays end up finishing 3rd in the AL East and in one of the top 2 spots on the wildcard, what are the chances of cito winning manager of the year, considering the Jays were locked by many to loose 100+ games this year (a fact which i never agreed to, although i never expected them to do so well so far)

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