It’s been a great day for baseball so far, and it isn’t over yet. Even the Jays, who once trailed Tampa 7-0, brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh (don’t ask), meaning that the Rays remain hardly safe to get through to the Wild Card play-in game, or whatever tiebreaker may be necessary to determine who does. Meanwhile, the Rangers are down early, the Clevelands are up, and the Brewers– who would secure the Jays a protected pick with a win– lead the Mets 2-1 late (note: not anymore).
And there are great stories on the individual front, too, as the image above comes from Miami, where ex-Jay Henderson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter against the Tigers– which ended on a wild pitch, as the Marlins scored their lone run of the game in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, the bases loaded, and Alvarez himself on deck.
And here in Toronto, of course, there’s Darren Oliver, who ended his career with a 1-2-3 inning, with a pair of strikeouts, one of which was to his last batter, Evan Longoria, who was frozen on a curveball for a called third strike. Not many better hitters in the game to do that to while ending a terrific career.
Baseball’s pretty damn cool sometimes, even if… yeah, as far as that whole winning-run-to-the-plate thing goes, don’t ask. Seriously. If you were looking for season-ending wistfulness, here you have it. I won’t even complain about the Rays demonstrating right in the Jays’ faces why it’s absurd that our team moved away from defensive shifts this year. Well… not too much.
UPDATE THE FIRST:
The Jays just missed a huge opportunity with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, with Moises Sierra striking out to Fernando Rodney ending the threat. But they’re within a run with three outs left– a run that would put a huge dent in the Rays’ playoff chances.
It would be delicious to knock Tampa out. Or maybe that’s just how I think, since, as much as they’re more likeable than other division rivals on account of their plucky upstart-ness, any time we can see the Joe-Maddon-is-a-magician narrative blown apart a little bit, I’m for it. However, the Mets have beaten the Brewers, meaning that a Jays win gives them the unprotected 12th pick in next June’s draft. A loss and they get the 9th pick– which they wouldn’t lose if they end up signing a free agent who was given the $14-million qualifying offer by his former club and rejected it.
What to hope for… what to hope for…
UPDATE THE SECOND:
And it’s over! Fernando Rodney, somehow, hangs on through his second inning of work, and the Jays lose.
With the Mets win, that means the Jays, Mets and Brewers all end the season with records of 74-88. That leaves the Jays with at least the 9th pick in next June’s draft. Theoretically they could leapfrog Philadelphia as well– the Jays hold the tiebreaker with all three teams by virtue of the fact that they had a worse record in 2012– but the Phillies are currently down five runs in Atlanta in the bottom of the seventh, and likely to stay ahead of the Jays in the reverse standings.
The Rockies could finish with the same record as the Jays, Mets and Brewers as well, but they were the worst of the bunch in 2012, so they’d still have the best pick of the group, even if they beat the Dodgers this afternoon.
So the Jays– if MLBTR is correct about the compensation pick for not signing Bickford being protected is correct (and I have no reason to think that it isn’t, even though that’s not what I originally thought was the case)– would lose a second round pick, and a whole lot less draft bonus pool money, if they sign a compensation-requiring free agent this winter. Not that I really expect them to, but at least it’s not a much more realistic option– even if it means a loss today, and the legend of Joe Maddon growing stronger.
Hey, and the J.P. Arencibia era is, almost assuredly, mercifully, finally over. So that’s pretty OK, too.