Osuna has 'bad day,' but Blue Jays not concerned
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays looked poised to walk away with a victory in Saturday's game against the Red Sox, but the bullpen was rocked for five runs in the ninth in a 7-6 loss at Rogers Centre.
"It's rare, what happened," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It does happen in baseball, but it's a tough one. No doubt about it."
Carrying a 4-2 lead into the final frame, closer Roberto Osuna returned to the mound in an attempt to register a four-out outing after he finished off the eighth inning. It wasn't new territory. Four of the 20-year-old's 16 saves this season have come while pitching more than an inning of work. But Saturday's opportunity got away as the right-hander left a fastball over the plate that was taken deep to right field by Jackie Bradley Jr. for a two-run shot, tying the game at 4. Aaron Sanchez came on in attempt to stop the bleeding, but instead allowed three hits and a pair of runs as the Red Sox put up a five-run frame to snap the Blue Jays' three-game winning streak.
Osuna, baseball's youngest player this season, wasn't about to get hung up on the missed opportunity. He chalked it up to missed fastball location on a bad day.
"It's one of those bad days, that's it," said Osuna, who was saddled with the loss.
Osuna has been one of the most important players on the American League East-leading Blue Jays this season. Despite his age, he's been almost automatic on the mound, taking on the high-pressure role with confidence that has impressed even the most seasoned veterans on his team.
That he's run into a bit of a rough patch of late -- three homers, a blown save and a loss in his last six outings -- is of no concern to Gibbons, who believes the rookie closer will move on from his recent, albeit brief, struggles.
"He's a tough kid," Gibbons said. "I don't think that will bother him."
LaTroy Hawkins, the 42-year-old reliever, said he spoke to Osuna after the game to offer some advice to his lockermate.
"Let him know that you're not on that island alone, because when you do [struggle], you feel like you're all by yourself, and that's the furthest thing from the truth," Hawkins said. "He knows we got his back."
Osuna isn't the only young reliever to run into a stumbling block this month. Sanchez's second half of September has been less than ideal as well. The tall right-hander has given up four earned runs over his last four outings (3 1/3 innings) since Sept. 12.
"I expect everybody in the game [to be shaky at some point], I don't care how long they've been around or how good they are," Gibbons said. "That happens. The timing of it wasn't good, but they're not the first guys it's ever happened to."