Chess Match: Game 54

Breaking down a key moment in Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to the Rays…

The situation: The Blue Jays are holding a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded. Closer Kevin Gregg has already walked four batters, forcing in one run. Sean Rodriguez is at the plate for the Rays.

The decision: Manager Cito Gaston sticks with Gregg.

The outcome: Gregg gives up a bases-clearing double to Rodriguez to hand the Rays a 7-5 lead. The right-hander then issues a fifth walk in the inning, convincing Gaston to pull Gregg from the game. On his way to the clubhouse, Gregg argues with home-plate ump Angel Hernandez and is ejected from the game. Toronto loses, 7-6. Gregg’s final line: two-thirds of an inning, one hit, four runs, five walks, one error, one wild pitch, two strikeouts, 40 pitches, 14 strikes.

The analysis: This was hardly Gregg’s first rough showing of the season. Entering the game, the veteran righty had actually allowed seven runs on 13 hits with eight walks over his past 9 1/3 innings, stretching over his last 10 appearances. Gregg had six saves and two blown saves over that stretch.

One problem was that Jays starter Brian Tallet was on a pitch count of around 85 for this game — his first off the disabled list. After 82 pitches, Tallet was pulled. Before Gaston even got to Gregg, he had burned through Casey Janssen, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp and Scott Downs. That left David Purcey and Rommie Lewis as the only alternatives.

Gaston had Lewis warming up in the bullpen, but the manager will always stick with his veteran guys over bringing in a rookie in a tight situation. Gregg is Toronto’s closer and that means Gaston will lean toward a show of faith rather than managing in a reactionary fashion. Gregg had one out to get and a force at every base.

The comments:

You know what, he’s the guy. You have to go with him. You’ve got two kids in the bullpen out there left — Lewis and Purcey. You’re going to stick with your veteran there. The situation didn’t really come up. He got the left-hander out. Sometimes you have to go with your guy until you either win it or lose it. That was the case tonight.” — Gaston

My verdict: It is easy to second guess a manager after a player has an awful showing like Gregg had tonight. Gaston could have stuck with Downs, but that shows a lack of faith in the guy dubbed “the closer.” Gaston could’ve pulled Gregg earlier, but what message does it send by turning to one of the young pitchers? There are still four months left and it is as much about managing players as it is managing games.

Gregg had performed better in his past three appearances, too. Were they perfect? No. But he had shown improvement. Gaston said Gregg will likely get a few days off — Wednesday for sure, followed by a team off-day on Thursday and maybe he’ll have Friday off as well — so maybe that can give him time to work through some of his issues of late.


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  1. yerouttaheah

    Throw strikes, Kevin, please, just throw strikes. Our great defense can’t help if you walk people. Make them hit.

  2. js0101

    This is what got Cito fired before, he’s always had a reputation for leaving guys in too long and it shows tonight, Cito thinks players are supermen or something, hard to win games when you have Cito who only cares about veterans.

  3. lndigo

    Kudos to Tallet , he pitched a good game . He got into a few problems but managed to pitch his way out of them . The umpiring this year hasn’t improved . A-Gon’s “HR” in Boston was just that a HR …not a double and that pitch to Ortiz was outside but maybe it was a gift after the umps stole the HR call . Last night Gregg didn’t have his best stuff but home plate ump Hernandez didn’t do him any favours either . Maddon, even after being tossed, continued to rant and rave to both Hernandez and West and I am sure any focus Gregg may have had, was totally lost while he waited for that to be over . I was surprised to see Gregg even come in after throwing around 40 pitches the night before . Part of this debacle has to be placed on Gaston’s shoulders . He continually uses the same relievers over and over again . Janssen looked lost out there but then when was the last time he was used in a game . One thing you can say , the Jays never give up. Lets hope last night’s devastating loss doesn’t squash that attitude . It should be a good pitchers duel (as long as the umps do they their job properly ) ….GO JAYS

  4. gsjays

    One major point everyone seems to be missing is the fact the Jays played two games against the best team in baseball..We had arguably our 5th and 6th starters out there against their top two and so far we’ve split the series…I expect 99.9% of all fans never expected the Jays to win 1 of the first two games of this series, hanging all their hopes on Marcum’s start today to come out 1-3 in the series…..

    TB has had the Jays number for 3-4 years, and yes last nights loss wasn’t pretty. All closers blow up, and the Jays should know that better than anyone since they’ve been on the exploding end this year much more than the explosion..In the end placing the blame doesn’t matter, we lost as a team….

    Personally I think the team took a lot of positives from this game last night, when they sit back and think about it in the cool light of the day…They know know they can hang with the best team in baseball, they haven’t been able to do that for years.

    Congratulations to Brad Emaus on his promotion to AAA Vegas yesterday, and hitting his first home run in his very first game…….

  5. lndigo

    AAA has done a great job restructuring the minor league system . Hopefully he continues to do so in the draft but even though none of us like to admit it , you have to give some credit to Riccardi for most of the players we have in the minor leagues now and for some of the talent we have on the field . Jays are looking good

  6. ferrick

    Jays are a team perfectly suited to go cloer-by-committee. They don’t have a Mo Rivera type of shutdown closer, so they need to optimize their efficiency in the late innings by playing the matchups with a combination of Gregg and Downs. If it means bringing in Gregg to pitch a tough 8th, then do it. Too many teams are all caught up in having a “closer”. They need to play to win, check the egos.

    Go Jays!

  7. gsjays

    I wouldn’t get all that carried away about JP,, what has made a huge difference in the minors, imo, is the different player development group AA has put into place, I particularly like Sal Fasano the Lansing manager and look forward to him managing up here some day in he future. Anyone with that kind of mustache has got to be a good guy, lol.
    In addition, the different coaches, etc. have done a great job in turning some failing prospects around…I also like that the same hitting and pitching philosophy embraced here is also embraced right down to the lowest minor league level..
    Now a good draft and some high ceiling international signings and we will finally have some real prospects at every level…The future is bright-no question.

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