Sleepless in Seattle

Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures

Last week, the Blue Jays were the recipients of a thrilling walk-off win at home. In the span of three days, they have been the ones watching their opponents celebrating walk-off victories.

Unlike Saturday’s game, the Blue Jays couldn’t blame this one on Bob Davidson. This collapse against the Mariners was their own doing. Admittedly, I drifted away from the game for a bit to play some MLB 11 The Show (I’m still in the minor leagues).

Once I saw the Blue Jays had a seven run lead against the lowest scoring team in the major leagues last year, I figured a seven runs was fairly safe in the hands of the Blue Jays bullpen. To my dismay, that was not the case.


All they needed to do was collect 12 more outs without giving up more than six runs to maintain the lead. And as the night progressed, those outs became harder and harder to come by.

Even after Mr. Groundball Shawn Camp came in and saved the day by inducing an inning-ending double play, I was still confident they could shut the door in the ninth. Dozing off for what seems like a moment, I awoke to see the Seattle Mariners celebrating a walk-off win.

I don’t want to blame the collapse on just one guy because it was a joint effort between David Purcey, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski. Issuing four walks and giving up three singles in a single inning helped the Mariners claw their way back within a run.

John Farrell’s decision to intentionally walk Ichiro was also a little perplexing. Putting the winning run on base is never a wise idea, but approaching it from Farrell’s standpoint, I think I can understand his reasoning behind the decision.

With a depleted bullpen, I believe Shawn Camp was the only relief pitcher available in the bullpen anyway. Camp had appeared in the past 5 of 7 games, so Farrell may have been hesitant to bring Camp in, but leaving Rzepczynski out there was not an option.

So after a 2-0 count, rather than tempting fate and continuing the at bat with Ichiro, Farrell called for Camp to give him the free pass. At this point, every pitch matters and perhaps Farrell thought going for broke on Luis Rodriguez would be better served that battling with Ichiro?

Even if Shawn Camp escapes the inning and only gives up the tying run, he’s still the only option to pitch the 10th inning and beyond. At that point, you’re getting into dangerous territory bringing out Camp back out for a third inning of work, having appeared in the past 5 of 7 games. Albeit, Shawn only throw one pitch in the eighth.

Not to say John Farrell was employing Cito’s infamous “lose one to win two later” philosophy, but as a former pitcher and pitching coach himself, its feasible that Farrell was trying to protect his reliever by ending the game right then and there; whether it be via a win or a walk-off loss.

That’s just my own hair-brain theory as to an explanation for the loss. Or for an explanation that’s 500 words less, the bullpen coughed up that game.


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.

9 thoughts on “Sleepless in Seattle

  • April 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I went to bed last night and the score was 7-0. I wake up and find out we lost 8-7. Thought I was going to be sick. The latest on Frank Francisco in the minors doesn't sound too good right now either. Time to panic or will the bullpen work itself out?

  • April 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Dave, I hear ya. I the bullpen might be feeling the ill-effects of being a little overworked the past series. Hopefully Romero can put up a solid 7-8 innings tonight to give the bullpen some relief.

    Again, it was just one bad night, but it was collectively a bad night for Purcey, Dotel AND Zep.

  • April 12, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Purcey is a terrible pitcher. When Morrow comes back I think you find someone who thinks a 94mph lefty with no control is worth of a major league spot. If nobody is stupid enough to take him then try to send him down.

    Reyes and Zep are both better (and younger) than he is.

  • April 12, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    KyleZ, I don't know that I'd say Purcey is a terrible pitcher, but he's certainly looked that way these past few outings. Those walks have been killer and if he doesn't straighten things out, I wouldn't be surprised if the Blue Jays let him go.

  • April 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I understand the appeal. He's a hard throwing lefty, and those dont come around every day. But when you're as far along in your career as he is and still can't throw strikes when up by 6 in the 8th. Then you dont belong in the league. The only success he's ever had is a small sample in garbage time last season

  • April 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    KyleZ, that's a fair argument. At this point (and I would've said this before the beginning of the season), if I had to choose between Zep and Purcey, I'd go with Zep.

    He's 3 years younger, and still has the potential to be a great starter. The Blue Jays have already burned that bridge with Purcey, so there's no going that route any more. At this point, Purcey has been basically relegated to LOOGY status. The funny thing is, Purcey has faced 5 lefties so far this year and given up hits to 3 of them.

    The question is – if the Blue Jays put him on waivers, will another team claim him? I imagine there's somebody out there that could use some bullpen help.

  • April 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I predict that this year is going to be worse than last year for the Jays. I am not going to waste my time watching them until May or June by which time I don't expect them to be able to maintain a .500 win/loss average. A competitive team needs good pitching, good offense and good defense. If you include the bullpen as part of pitching I see the Jays as being average to below average in all three categories.

  • April 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    have you seen damien cox's blog today about the jays? i wish that man would stick to the sport he actually knows something about – hockey. he only writes about the jays to stir up trouble.

  • April 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    arch, that could very well be the case but we won't know until the end of the season. I just think it might be a little hasty writing them off already after just 10 games. Give them some time, and if they're still struggling by the All-Star break, then that might be a precursor for what we can expect in the second half.

    Julie, I hadn't noticed it but just took a look at his post once I saw that you mentioned it. I guess with the NHL playoffs not starting until tomorrow, Cox had to suck it up and write his bi-annual baseball post.

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