So eight isn’t enough in the cause of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Although if you’d like to make the case that eight isn’t enough in the New Yankee Stadium, I would certainly have to listen.
That being said, you have to start somewhere and that somewhere was by touching up Joba Chamberlain for eight runs before the end of the fourth inning.
On the other side of the diamond, the Bronx Bombers were slapping around Brett Cecil for nine hits and seven runs over three and two thirds of an inning.
Now at this point, you would be looking at a battle of the bullpens that would seemingly be fairly equal.
The Yankees have a better record, convert more saves, and hold the opponents to a lower batting average. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, have given up 20 fewer home runs (The Yankees 44 is the most in the MLB thus far this season, Cleveland’s 37 is second most, only six teams have 30 or more.) and have an ERA that is .17 lower.
Are the pens perfectly even?
No, they certainly are not.
To the credit of Aceves, he pitched a masterful and unheard of in this day and age, four inning save at the Stadium, and helped to elevate what has been seen as a team weakness with a tremendous performance.
Aceves’ line ended with a save, four innings, five strikeouts, and one hit. If you add in Johnathan Albaladejo’s effort, the Yankee pen went five and a third, giving up three hits, allowing no runs, while striking out seven of the 16 outs, and walking no one.
The Jays, on the other hand, almost matched them pitch for pitch. Hayhurst, Carlsson, League, and Fraser went three and two thirds, giving up zero runs on four hits, walking one, and sitting down four on strikes.
So, what is the problem?
Well here is where it gets a little sticky.
In the Blue Jays line, the work of the bullpen and starter only accounts for seven and one third innings.
The home team was leading with no reason to bat in the bottom of the ninth, so that gets our count up to eight and a third innings.
So all things being accounted for, we are left with two outs. Quite simply two outs for the Blue Jays pen to get, and with it being the case to stabilize the game. Those two outs were as the Blue Jays were sitting on an 8-7 lead.
Cito was awoken early from his mid game slumber and signaled for the once reliable left-hander BJ Ryan. What followed was what anyone who has watched the Jays in 2009 could’ve predicted, except for the Jays themselves apparently.
If Cecil had forgotten to put out his campfire, Ryan continued to do his best “dry winds of Malibu impression,” spreading it into a wildfire. BJ Ryan continued to do what he does best lately, and burned that mother down.
Since opening day 2009, BJ Ryan has become the living, breathing, and eating argument against guaranteed contracts in sports. Coming out of spring training, it had become obvious that Ryan had lost some of his velocity, but the Blue Jays didn’t seem to mind and stuck with Ryan anyway.
Over his first month of the season, Ryan was called on six times and pitched five and two thirds innings. In that period of time, with Ryan occupying the closer role, he went 1-0 with two saves and a blown save.
More important than his mere mortal velocity, he gave up eight hits, seven runs, while walking five and striking out four.
It was at this point where the Blue Jays decided to shut Ryan down to see if they could work out the issues that they had clearly been ignoring. If they couldn’t, it was a heck of a lemon to have on their hands as BJ played out the final two seasons of his five year, $47 million contract.
Upon his return, Ryan made three scoreless appearances. Unfortunately, not a single one of them was confidence inspiring as BJ managed to give up a base runner in every single appearance, none which lasted more than an inning.
By the end of May, Ryan had tossed 11 and a third innings with 15 hits, and had posted 11 earned runs for an ERA of 8.74.
Since Jun. 1, BJ Ryan’s ERA has been better at 3.86.
As usual, that does not tell the entire story.
In his last 12 appearances, Ryan has managed to get in the game for nine and a third innings, and cough up only four earned runs. When you look at the other numbers, in that time he has given up seven hits and eight walks.
Players are getting on base at a .385 clip against the former closer.
Yet somehow, Cito Gaston, against what I must assume is his better judgment, feels a loyalty to exhaust every possible opportunity when it comes to the big-ticket former closer.
Unfortunately, the team that was posting six or seven runs a night earlier in the season, has severely cooled and is in need of the bullpen to pick it up.
Luckily, for the Blue Jays, several of their relievers have shown the ability to convert in tough opportunities, which will be more and more important as the division races down through the dog days of summer.
If the Blue Jays are to stay in this race, they are going to have to hold leads. And if they are going to hold leads, then they are going to leave BJ Ryan and his big fat paycheck in the pen.