Did Kevin Gregg get squeezed against the Rays?

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Watching Kevin Gregg collapse against the Tampa Bay Rays was one of the most painful things I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen some painful baseball games in my short time on this earth.

I was fortunate enough to be there live last season to see the Blue Jays blow the biggest lead in club history, only to lose to … you guessed it, the Tampa Bay Rays!

However, watching it all go down live on last night’s Score live blog, I couldn’t help but notice that Kevin Gregg wasn’t that far off on a lot of pitches, and many if not most of them were borderline.


It begs the question: did Kevin Gregg get squeezed against the Rays? Let’s take a look at the Pitch F/X and find out.

B.J. Upton – Strikeout

Kevin Gregg got the job done against B.J. Upton striking him out, but there was very close call on the second pitch of the at bat: the fastball at the knees called ball two. It’s all a moot point though because Upton struck out anyway.

Evan Longoria – Walk

From what I remember, Gregg caught the edge or came very close on those fourth and sixth pitches to Evan Longoria which were both called balls. The first close one was an inside fastball, and the second close pitch was an inside cutter.

John Jaso: Walk

Here’s where things start to get interesting. In this at bat to John Jaso, Kevin Gregg starts him off with a first pitch slider, followed by a couple of changeups on the lower outside corner.

As you can see, both pitches were extremely close and home plate umpire Angel Hernandez didn’t waiver from his strike zone one bit.

Ben Zobrist: Walk


At this point, I’m sure Kevin Gregg’s blood is just boiling. Still grasping to a two-run lead with Carl Crawford at third and Evan Longoria at second base, Gregg attempts to take care of Ben Zobrist.

He misses his locations early in the count, then delivers two borderline pitches on the opposite side of the plate about belt-high on Zobrist. As you can see from the Pitch F/X, those pitches should have been called strike two and three.

Dionner Navarro: Walk

Then just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, it did. Kevin Gregg gives up a three-run double to Sean Rodriguez. Seemingly those nerves had settled down, and all he needed to do was get the final out of the inning and hope his teammates could tie it or win it in the bottom of the ninth.

Instead, check out the placement of the first pitch offering to Dionner Navarro. A slider right there at the knees, yet it’s called a ball. Then Gregg makes a couple other great pitches away from Navarro, also called balls.



After looking at all the aforementioned evidence, it’s tough to say for certain whether or not Kevin Gregg got squeezed by home plate umpire Angel Sanchez. There were definitely a couple of borderline calls, but that’s just part of the game of baseball.

Unfortunately, situations like this get magnified especially when the game is on the line. The worst thing Kevin Gregg did in that inning was walking Carl Crawford on four straight pitches to lead off the inning after striking out B.J. Upton.

Although he wasn’t even the tying run, Crawford started the entire chain reaction and kept it going by stealing second base and then advancing to third on the wild throw from Gregg.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

11 thoughts on “Did Kevin Gregg get squeezed against the Rays?

  • June 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    This is a good start, but the larger question of whether or not Gregg was squeezed can't truly be answered without looking at the F/X from the rest of the game. We need to see if Hernandez's strike zone changed after Maddon was tossed.

  • June 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Crawford was walked with 1 out.

  • June 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    C-Span, thanks for the heads up – that entire inning was a blur to me. That's what I get for putting this together at 1:30am.

    Tony, I thought of that too – it seemed like Hernandez was calling a lot of pitches from Niemann that was low in the zone as strikes, but he was actually pretty consistent all night. Here's the strikezone map from the entire game, as well as Tallet's Strikezone Plot and Niemann's Strikezone Plot:

    Jays/Rays Strikezone Map
    Tallet's Strikezone Plot
    Niemann's Strikezone Plot

  • June 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Squeezed or not, it was painful to watch. That inning almost made me miss BJ Ryan. Almost.

  • June 2, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Most definitely Mattt, it was horrifying to watch go down start to finish. The Beej was pretty scary for a while there, but I don't think he ever walked 5 batters in an inning. I will look into it for you.

  • June 3, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Funny how Gregg's struggles (umpire-induced, or his own doing, take your pick) have had a carryover effect to tonight's game.

    For one thing, Gregg was definitely unavailable for tonight's save situation, due to all the (extra? unnecessary?) pitches he threw Tuesday. For another, Marcum was left in too long… probably because Clarence doesn't quite trust his bullpen right now.

    Not that he has much reason to trust them, after tonight and last night.

  • June 3, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Definitely agree with you on Marcum. Not sure why Cito brought him out to pitch the ninth. With the game so close like that, Cito should have gone to Downs right away or even Camp – both worked the night before and threw less than 10 pitches.

    Trust me, there will be an angry rant forthcoming on this.

  • June 11, 2010 at 2:22 am

    I watched that game, as a Jays fan for many years, although being out of the country for 4 years, I have recently began watching again.

    The game you are talking about tonight is the first time I saw our "closer". Then I saw him again against the Rays on June 10th… We were one sweet swing from the Rays bats from being swept in Florida…

    Is it just me or do we need a better closer? I am extremely nervous when I see this guy pitching now…



  • June 11, 2010 at 5:14 am

    Thanks for the comment, Dave! That's pretty much been par for the course for Kevin Gregg the past month or so. It's always been a nervous ninth, and I can't remember the last time he had a 1,2,3 inning to pick up the save.

    It might be a little to early to give up on him entirely, but the funny thing was he wasn't really even signed as the team's "closer" – it was more as a contingency plan.

    I think he'll shake it off and be okay, but I'm always holding my breath whenever he comes into the game.

  • July 20, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Hey, thanks for the reply Ian. I posted again tonight on the latest disaster against KC and forgot to close with my name…

    Hopefully this will be the last chance, seems like he and Cito are locking horns and tonight he has proven himself as the guy who is not going to get it done as often as we need him to…

    Thanks again,

  • July 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Dave! I don't know why I have a zen-like state about last night's game (maybe it's because I didn't watch it happen live), but I don't think it's nearly as bad as everyone is making it out to be.

    The Royals are a very strong hitting team, and they poked a couple of singles through the infield. I can't really hang this one on Gregg, even though he's the easy one to peg the loss on.

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