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Blue Jays tripped up in 9th after hot start

Clippard surrenders 4 runs before Halos halt Toronto's rally
May 23, 2018

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays can add the back end of the bullpen to their growing list of concerns after right-hander Tyler Clippard was charged with his second blown save in less than a week on Wednesday night.Clippard allowed four runs in the top of the ninth inning as a

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays can add the back end of the bullpen to their growing list of concerns after right-hander Tyler Clippard was charged with his second blown save in less than a week on Wednesday night.
Clippard allowed four runs in the top of the ninth inning as a two-run lead turned into a 5-4 loss in a matter of minutes. The Angels took advantage of some erratic command by the veteran reliever while Andrelton Simmons delivered the go-ahead single, and a Blue Jays rally in the bottom half of the frame came up short.
Toronto manager John Gibbons spent part of his pregame media availability talking about how he was comfortable turning to Clippard as his unofficial closer while Roberto Osuna remains on administrative leave. Several hours later that plan no longer looked so concrete after Clippard walked off the field with his second blown save over his past three appearances.

"I don't want to overreact on one game," Gibbons said. "It was a tough game. It was an ugly game. Those guys have been pretty good. We're missing a big piece. Everybody is in a different slot and some guys aren't throwing it over the plate. It's that simple. But those guys have been great all year, and they'll bounce back."
Clippard's command was all over the place against the Angels. The inning started off innocently enough when Ian Kinsler flied out to right field, but after that, the ninth inning took a dark turn for Toronto. Clippard walked Michael Trout, Justin Upton and Jose Pujols in consecutive at-bats to load the bases with one out.
Shohei Ohtani followed with a game-tying two-run single and Simmons gave the Angels their first lead of the night with a two-run single. Gibbons then pulled Clippard but not before he was charged with four runs on two hits and three walks over one-third of an inning. Clippard threw just 14 of his 28 pitches for strikes, and after he entered Wednesday with five earned runs allowed this season, he nearly doubled that in one appearance.

The question for the Blue Jays becomes how they handle the ninth-inning duties moving forward. Top setup man Dennis Tepera is a potential option, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless frames on Wednesday night, but he allowed five runs over his previous eight appearances. Seunghwan Oh also could receive a look for a team that is not expected to have Osuna back anytime soon.
"That's part of the game," Blue Jays left fielder Curtis Granderson said of the bullpen issues. "Have to give credit to the opposition as well. They're facing some of the best offenses in baseball, some guys are swinging the bats really well, they put pressure on them. Mike Trout did a good job getting himself on in that situation, and you're facing Justin Upton, Albert Pujols and Ohtani. No matter who the bullpen happens to be, that's a very tough situation."

Yangervis Solarte led the way on offense for the Blue Jays with a 2-for-4 night, which included his 11th home run of the season and a pair of RBIs. Devon Travis also homered in his second game back after returning from the Minor Leagues, while Josh Donaldson doubled for the second consecutive game. That was all the Blue Jays' lineup was able to generate off lefty Tyler Skaggs, who was charged with three runs on six hits over five innings.

Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez's outing was not as good as the five scoreless frames indicate. He walked five and needed 97 pitches to get through five innings. He has not recorded an out in the sixth inning this month, and his 34 walks on the season are tied for the second most in the Majors. Despite the erratic command, Sanchez stranded seven baserunners and struck out two.
"I wasn't too bad with them, I went back and watched, and there was a couple ones that could have went either way," Sanchez said of the walks. "The main thing is that they're competitive walks. You guys can say whatever you want about it. I went back and checked, there were a couple of ones, a 2-2 to Trout that was right down the middle and ended up walking him. It is what it is."

The throw: Toronto had a perfect opportunity to bounce back in the bottom of the ninth. John Smith got things started with a single, and Granderson followed with a double to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Kendrys Morales then hit a towering fly ball that bounced off the wall in right-center field.

Granderson, who went back to tag up at second base, had to stop at third and was unable to score. Teoscar Hernandez followed with a fly to shallow center and that set up the play of the game. As Granderson tagged and attempted to score, Calhoun uncorked a strike that beat a sliding Granderson, and the Angels hung on to their one-run lead.
"I expected it to be close," Granderson said. "Regardless of what the scouting report is, we've got to go. There was an opportunity. I thought it was deep enough. Everything has to be perfect and sure enough it was. If the ball was to the right a little bit, if it's up a little bit, if it doesn't get there a little bit, there are a lot of things in our favor that give us an opportunity to score regardless of who happens to be out there throwing the ball. We have to take our chances in that situation."

Calhoun throwing out Granderson at the plate seemed almost fitting because earlier in the game it was Granderson who threw out Calhoun at third in a play that nearly dictated the outcome of the game. With runners on first and second in the sixth, Trout singled to left field. Martin Maldonado rounded third and was going to easily score when Calhoun made the curious decision of trying to go first to third. Granderson recognized the aggressive baserunning and came up firing to third base. Donaldson's tag was applied to Calhoun before Maldonado crossed the plate, and the run did not count.

Granderson picked up two assists in the same game for the third time in his career. The 15-year veteran also had two assists on Aug. 18, 2011, at Minnesota and Sept. 8, 2011, at Baltimore.
Right-hander Marco Estrada (2-4, 5.15 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out a three-game series against the Angels on Thursday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 12:37 p.m. ET. Estrada has displayed better command of late, with just one walk over his past 12 2/3 innings. Home runs continue to be a problem, with at least one homer in all but two of his nine starts. The Angels will counter with Nick Tropeano (1-3, 4.45).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays

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