CHICAGO -- Tim Mayza learned the hard way on Friday afternoon that even when a pitch is properly executed, it can backfire in a big way at the big league level.
Mayza, who made his Major League debut earlier this week, surrendered a homer to Javier Baez in the bottom of the eighth inning. The two-run shot was not the decisive home run, but it did put the game out of reach en route to a 7-4 Blue Jays loss at the hands of the Cubs.
The 25-year-old Mayza did not get the final result he was looking for, but the pitch was exactly where catcher Miguel Montero wanted it. It was a 93-mph fastball that was low and inside, but Baez still took it deep to left field for a no-doubter and home run No. 20 on the season.
"I think he's throwing the ball great," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "This is his chance, and I told him, 'Don't worry about that, man.' It happens, but you don't want those young guys on their first go-around to dwell on it when something like that happens, because he has been throwing the ball great. That's his third outing right there, and we've liked everything we see."
Toronto rallied for three runs in the top of the eighth, which cut Chicago's lead to 5-4. Mayza came back for his second inning in the bottom half of the frame, and after facing two batters, Gibbons sent pitching coach Pete Walker to the mound with a simple message: Don't give Baez anything to hit.
The Blue Jays did not plan on walking Baez, but they wanted to expand the strike zone because of his tendency to chase. In essence, Toronto got exactly what it was looking for -- except for the final result. Instead of rolling over, Baez was able to turn on the low-inside fastball and send it deep into the left-field seats. According to Statcast™, it was projected to travel 409 feet, and based on Mayza's reaction on the mound, he knew it was gone the second it left the bat.
"He's a very aggressive hitter, and he still got to that thing," Gibbons said.
One outing will not spoil Mayza's first week in the Majors, but it does bring some harsh reality to his situation. After making a pair of scoreless appearances earlier in the week, he was touched up by an opponent for the first time. Even so, there's a clear opportunity to take over some high-leverage innings for the Blue Jays, who have struggled to find a reliable lefty out of the bullpen this season despite auditioning a seemingly countless number of candidates.
Mayza struck out two and faced the minimum in the seventh inning. He also likely would have been facing Baez with the bases empty in the eighth instead of with a man on base if Justin Smoak had not bobbled a ground ball to first earlier in the frame. The outing didn't go as planned, but this one doesn't really fall on Mayza's shoulders.
"He made his pitch," Montero said. "You have to give credit sometimes to the hitters. He put a good swing on it, and that's how it goes sometimes. Other than that, I thought he threw the ball great."