When we last saw Kevin Pillar in these parts, he was standing in the on-deck circle for the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, minding his own business and preparing himself for an at-bat in the eighth inning of a 6-6 ball game against the New York Yankees in late June.
The next few moments, after Toronto manager John Gibbons decided to send Anthony Gose in to pinch hit for the .225 hitter, Pillar will tell you now he kind of lost his mind.
Stalking back to the dugout, the 25-year-old was steamed at the indignity of it all and proceeded to hurl his bat in anger in the dugout tunnel that leads to the clubhouse. The act was caught on television and was duly noted by Gibbons.
Following the game, Pillar paid the price for his cantankerous outburst and was handed a ticket to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. It doesn’t get any rougher than that.
Pillar, who was called back up to the Major Leagues by the Blue Jays on Tuesday and got the start in centre field Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre after Colby Rasmus took ill, will tell you that his passion for the game still runs deep.
He’ll just pick his spots better from now on, that’s all.
“It’s just about controlling the emotions and understanding at this level that the camera’s always on you,” Pillar said before the Blue Jays continued to bury their playoff hopes with another disheartening loss, this one an 11-7 setback in 11 innings. “It’s just about controlling the emotions and understanding at this level that the camera’s always on you. You can’t have a moment of weakness, a lapse of judgement, like I did.”
Playing in their fourth straight extra-innings game, it all fell apart in alarming fashion for the Blue Jays with Toronto closer Casey Janssen left to shoulder most of the blame, while working his second inning in relief.
Janssen allowed a leadoff hit to Mookie Betts and then, when the next batter, Christian Vazquez, turned and laid down a sacrifice bunt, Janssen fielded it and decided to try for the lead runner at second, but his throw was late.
Brock Holt, the next Boston batter, then laid down another sac bunt that Janssen mishandled for an error, leaving the bases loaded for Dustin Pedroia.
And Pedroia responded by driving a pitch up the middle to score the first two of seven runs that Boston would tally in the inning. The Boston second baseman drove in four of the Red Sox runs in the game.
Just for good effect, Mike Napoli then launched a towering home run shot off Sergio Santos, the next Toronto pitcher, a three-run shot that landed in the third deck in left field, just the 17th time that has been done at Rogers Centre.
Allen Craig also homered in the frame off Santos before Gibbons took pity and brought infielder Steve Tolleson into the game to get the final two outs.
To make room on the roster for Pillar, who went 1-for-6 in the game, the Blue Jays designated for assignment outfielder Nolan Reimold.
With the way the Blue Jays are going of late, they could certainly use a jolt of enthusiasm to wake them from their prolonged slumber that has left their playoff hopes in tatters as the regular-season begins to wind down.
The entered Tuesday’s game having lost two in a row and three of their last four.
The only good news the team has received recently was the bulletin on Tuesday that Major League Base was denying the protest lodged on Saturday by the Tampa Bay Rays during Toronto’s 5-4 win.
With knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on the mound to start for Toronto, the Red Sox jumped in front 3-0 in the first inning, the telling blow a two-run home run by Pedroia. Only one of the runs was earned, however, after Holt, the Boston leadoff batter, struck out but got to first on a passed ball.
Dickey gathered himself after that and pitched six innings, allowing just five Boston hits, and left with the score tied 3-3.
After falling behind early, the Blue Jays chipped away, scoring singles in the third, fourth and fifth inning where Melky Cabrera hustled home with the tying run from third when Edwin Encarnacion hit into a fielder’s choice.
Dustin McGowan came on in relief of Dickey and he was ineffective, allowing a run in just one-third of an inning in the top of the seventh as Boston went back in front 4-3.
But Jose Bautista quickly restored order in the bottom of the frame, stroking his 25th home run of the year leading off the bottom half of the frame, snapping a 0-for-17 slide at the plate in the process.