The Blue Jays’ longest game in eight years took place on the West Coast, with the players’ body clocks having been operating on Eastern time since April 14, and the team having arrived in San Diego just before 4:00 a.m. ET Friday on a flight from Atlanta.
Their 17-inning loss to the Padres at Petco Field started on Friday night and lasted four hours and 58 minutes, ending at 3:10 a.m. ET on Saturday.
The decisive inning started with a fluke hit as rookie Jedd Gyorko’s ground ball deflected off the third-base bag. He moved to second on a bunt, scoring on Jesus Guzman’s first career walk-off hit, a single up the middle off Toronto reliever Todd Redmond for a 4-3 decision. Neither team had scored since the fifth inning.
“We are exhausted,” said Blue Jays relief pitcher Brett Cecil.
Their record dropped to 23-32, as they squandered an early 3-0 lead on one play in the fifth inning, an error accounting for the third San Diego run.
“Both teams gutted it out; it’s a tough one to lose,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “We had the late-night flight. We had the lead early and coughed it up.”
Most of the original crowd of 24,219 fans had cleared out by game’s end. Remaining was a boisterous blue-shirted group of Blue Jays fans along the third-base side, chanting “Let’s go Blue Jays” and singing “Jose Jose” in support of Bautista.
Highlights and lowlights:
- Esmil Rogers became the first pitcher in Blue Jays franchise history to make a pinch-hit appearance, striking out in the top of the 14th inning.
- Toronto held a 3-0 lead in the fifth when starter Chad Jenkins hit Carlos Quentin with a pitch, Yonder Alonso got a broken-bat single and Gyorko stroked a one-out slider to right-centre field. Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio forced J.P. Arencibia up the first-base line to catch his relay throw, then Arencibia made an ill-advised side-armed throw off one foot in an attempt to throw out Gyorko at third. The ball sailed wide of the bag, allowing Gyorko to come home with the tying run.
- Colby Rasmus had a career game: four hits including a two-run homer, and in centre field he robbed Yonder Alonso of a home run in the second inning with a leaping catch.
- Redmond, 28, appeared in his third Major League game, the first being for Cincinnati last season, the second against Atlanta two days earlier. He’s been pitching at the Triple-A level since 2009. At Buffalo, he’d gone 1-0 with a 0.89 ERA and 13 saves in 13 chances. “The adrenalin takes over,” he said. “You’re the guy out there; you’ve got to get the job done.”
- The teams combined to throw 493 pitches.
- The Jays had 12 hits in 59 at-bats, struck out 16 times, left 10 runners on base, went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The Padres had nine hits in 57 at-bats, struck out 12 times, left nine runners on, went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
- Each team used eight pitchers. The Padres bullpen logged 11-2/3 innings, allowing five hits, no walks and no runs, striking out 10. The Blue Jays bullpen logged 11-2/3 innings, allowing six hits, three walks and striking out 10. Said Cecil, the fourth out of the pen: “This is a tough loss for us. You’d really like to have something to show for it, but that doesn’t take away anything from our bullpen.”
- Extra-inning games are generous to some hitters, punishing to others. Melky Cabrera (1 for 8), Bautista (0 for 7), Arencibia (0 for 6) and Munenori Kawasaki (0 for 5) combined to go 1 for 26. Cabrera hit into a first-to-home-to-first (Alonso-Grandal-Alonso) double play with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning – the first such double play the Padres have turned since April 30, 2009. Bautista argued about a strike-three call in the fifth inning (replays showed the pitch not close to a strike) and again in the top of the 15th on a call at first. Had he been ejected then, backup catcher Henry Blanco was the only position player remaining.
- Gibbons moved Edwin Encarnacion to third base from his usual position at first, to get DH Adam Lind’s bat into the lineup. Lind had three hits. Encarnacion hit a solo homer, made one standout play in the field by bare-handing a bunt, committed one error and was saved from another when Lind made a leaping catch at first.
The Blue Jays had a chance to end May with a .500 record for the month. Instead, they finished 13-15.
The bullpen will be counting on starter Mark Buehrle to go deep into Saturday night’s game. Toronto’s rotation ranks 28th out of 30 teams in the majors for innings pitched, and the bullpen is tapped.
It was uncertain whether Brandon Morrow would start Sunday’s game, due to injury. Gibbons said another pitcher will be recalled from Buffalo.