We talk a lot about the role that luck plays in baseball. For all of our projections and predictive statistics, what makes the game so much fun is that the things that are supposed to happen, the outcomes that odds and history compel to occur, simply don’t sometimes.

Tonight in Seattle was the perfect example. While both starting pitchers had terrible outings, Jesse Litsch had absolutely no business pitching five scoreless innings against any lineup, even one as depressed offensively as the batting order belonging to the Seattle Mariners tonight.

The Ginger Beard Man threw 111 pitches to only 24 batters, allowing five hits and four walks, while striking out four and miraculously allowing no runs. Felix Hernandez, on the other side of the inning, threw 110 pitches over six frames, striking out six and only walking two, but giving up a dozen hits and seven earned runs. Despite all of the hits for the Blue Jays, the score could have very easily been reversed after five innings.

This game was a story of two halves. During the first half of the game, the Blue Jays looked unbeatable. Corey Patterson put an emphasis on the team’s offensive dominance in his first game as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays by hitting a two run home run off of the reigning Cy Young Award winner in the top of the sixth inning to put the Jays up 7-0. Edwin Encarnacion and Jayson Nix both went 3 for 4 with doubles. In fact, the only member of the Blue Jays not to get on base was first baseman Adam Lind who had a lousy day at the plate, striking out twice.

But then the tide was turned by a bullpen that seemed hell bent on nibbling at the plate despite multiple run leads. Jason Frasor threw 20 pitches, only ten for strikes; Carlos Villanueva threw 23 pitches, only 12 for strikes and David Purcey looked downright awful loading the bases with only 16 pitches, six of which he threw for strikes, to start the eighth inning.

That was before Octavio Dotel was brought in with four left handed batters in a row due up. Last season, lefties averaged a higher OPS against Dotel than Jose Bautista’s OPS for the entire season. He proceeded to walk the first two batters he faced, throwing eight of his twelve pitches for balls before he came out. Then, with the score 7-3 for the Blue Jays, Marc Rzepczynski was brought in, and he proceeded to walk in another run, before giving up a two run single to Justin Smoak.

Up only a single run in the eighth inning, Shawn Camp came in and induced a double play with one pitch.

Despite looking so good against the best pitcher in the American League, the Jays went three up three down in the top of the ninth before Camp was brought back in to close the game, clinging desperately to a one run lead.

Michael Saunders led off the bottom of the ninth with a double. He was sacrificed over to third before Camp induced a ground out from Adam Kennedy. With two outs and Saunders on third, Ichiro received a questionable free pass to face Luis Rodriguez. In a 10 pitch at bat, Rodriguez hit a two run single to win the game for the Mariners.

You can complain all you want about choosing to walk Ichiro and put the winning run on base with two out in the ninth inning, but the real question I keep asking has more to do with bringing Dotel in with four guys in a row in the batting order that can hit from the left side of the plate. If Rzepczynski comes into the game right away there, instead of two batters later, I think we see a much different outcome.

Interesting facts:

  • Miguel Olivo ended five of the Mariners nine innings.
  • Jesse Litsch made a glovely save in the fifth inning off of a line drive from Milton Bradley.
  • Toronto Blue Jays pitcher issued eleven walks.
  • Before Shawn Camp, the Toronto bullpen threw 80 pitches, only 35 for strikes.
  • Prior to the ninth inning of tonight’s game, Camp had gotten 19 out from 19 batters on 48 pitches.

Comments (33)

  1. That loss is on Farrell. You don’t intentionally walk the winning run in the 9th inning with 2 outs. It’s more than questionable, it’s stupid.

    Maybe he managed the bullpen poorly with Dotel, but that’s not what I’ll remember from thsi one.

  2. FUCK! It’s fucking insane to put on the winning run intentionally, and I don’t care if Babe Ruth circa 1927 is up to the plate. Especially when you are essentially walking him into scoring position.

  3. awful game by the bullpen. Disgusted.

  4. Well…I should say that he most certainly managed the bullpen poorly with Dotel. But intentionally walking the winning run…it’s just asking for a loss.

  5. I can’t comprehend bringing Dotel in over Rzepczynski. It makes no sense to me. There were four guys in a row who could all hit from the left side. And everyone knows Dotel struggles against lefties. What was that?

  6. does Farrell understand splits at all? or was he just not giving a shit?

  7. The most outrageous move of the night had to be Dotel pitching to four LHB’s. In 2010, he had FIP of 5.09 and a WHIP of 2.06 against lefties. Against RHB’s he had a FIP of 3.73 and a WHIP of 0.91.

    I know Farrell is a rookie manager, but you have to be aware of those splits, especially if your most recent job was a pitching coach.


  8. It was still a 7-1 game at the time, I think. That’s not a real justification for bringing in Dotel, but it might have been his reasoning.

  9. I blame this loss on sending Janssen to AAA just so we can keep David Purcey. If he’s so instantly going to be snatched up on waivers, trade him for a bag of baseballs or some team’s Justin Jackson.

  10. On the bright side, it’s hard to contemplate a more devastating loss than this over the course of the rest of the season. Blowing a seven run lead in three innings on the worst offensive team in baseball due to poor managing?

    It will be hard to top this one.

  11. The Blue Jays did not lose because of poor managing. The Blue Jays lost because their bullpen sucked. Let’s not get carried away here.

    Was it helped by some questionable decisions? Sure. But as easy as it is to blame the manager, the bullpen cannot blow a 7 run lead in three innings. It’s absolutely unbelievable that no one in that bullpen pitched well. Unbelievable.

  12. Agree with Scott. Question the Ichiro decision all you want, let’s not forget the bullpen walked in 3 runs in the eighth. Question the question of whether Dotel should or should not have been in to face switch hitters (they would have been batting righty against Rzep which is why Rzep came in to face Cust who was a straight lefty. It wasn’t like bring in Rzep and it’s lefty-lefty three batters in a row.) he still threw 8 of 12 for balls. And then Rzep throws 4 straight balls. The reason they lost the game is clearly not on Farrell but on the home plate ump’s strike zone!!! Ok, I kid, it’s on the bullpen for not being able to find it at all. They weren’t nibbling and not getting close calls. They were just off. This one is on the bullpen, period. Quite clearly it’s Francisco up, Purcey gone. Anybody disagree?

  13. Some bad moves by Farrell but three Meltdowns last night! Dotel, Zep, and Camp. Farrell should have spared us the Dotel MD but this one is on the bullpen.

  14. And that Dotel decision was likely forced by the fact they really couldn’t keep Purcey in the game any longer, and Dotel was the only one who was ready to go. And when you’re missing the strike zone like Dotel was, I don’t think it matters a whole lot what side of the plate the batters are swinging from.

  15. Slightly off topic, but using that picture of Litsch for this article borders on cruelty. Everybody always bullies the gingers. That being said, I almost spit coffee all over my laptop when I say it, hilarious.

  16. *That being said, I almost spit coffee all over my laptop when I saw it, hilarious.

  17. Toronto”s bull pen sucks!!Octavio dotel,shawn camp and a couple more need to be released or something…for christ sake i can chuck hurl a ball at 100km and have more control that those fools..so embarrasing for the rest of the team!!

  18. There was a lot of poor management that led to the bullpen sucking. This is still a good bullpen, just a bad night.

  19. Why was Frasor in the game in the 6th? If your pitcher only goes 5 don’t you want someone in there for the 6th and 7th?

  20. @Drew – I wish I could upvote here. Nicely played.

  21. Anyone in the Kitchener Waterloo area wanna get together to form a support group? My kids and wife wonder why I’m tired and depressed, I’m gonna get my ass canned at work, I’ve wasted so many hours staying up to watch this clusterfuck team that before the weekend was the one bright spot in my life.

  22. And there’s no fucking way I’m watching the debate.

  23. I was kind of surprised by Frasor pitching the 6th as well. Especially when they used Villenueva in the next inning. Since when was Frasor a middle relief guy, and why would you use him for an inning when you could just as easily use Carlos V for two? Just some weird stuff going on last night.

  24. Nobody’s mentioned it, but I think the whole reason for the trouble might have been the temperature. Six games in the dome, then 3 in California, and then, suddenly, the bullpen has to get warm when its not warm. Should that result in 7 walks? No, not really, but it might say something about why everybody had similar problems all night, including Litsch.

  25. Also questionable – continuing to pitch to Rodriguez with first base open after he’d seen 8 or 9 pitches and Ichiro had taken second. Why not set up the force? Don’t these very long at bats with foul after foul almost always end up in the batters favour?

  26. Can we talk about the elephant in the room – The Fairservice ESPN Power Rankings Curse? First week, Drew praises Bautista – Boom he is gone from the team for the next three games.

    Second week, Drew praises the bullpen, and we get the Toronto McIlroys.

    Put away your wand Severus Snape.

  27. I’m just gonna say it… Cito would have done a better job last night.

  28. I agree with holin. Cito would have burned just one pitcher to blow the lead. You all know who that one pitcher is.

  29. Was at the game last Tuesday which they won 7-6 over Oakland in 10 innings. Game was 5-5 and Camp got through the 8th on 10 pitches, but he brought Rauch for the 9th. This is not egregious by any means but burning through 5 pitchers makes things harder in subsequent games.

    He also let Molina bat in the bottom of the 9th. Now that was borderline egregious.

    In reading the box score from last night’s game there are a number of even stranger managerial decisions.
    -Frasor in the 6th to face #s 7-9 – why not save him for the 7th?
    -Villanueva for a single inning rather than 2+

    Camp was great, but why not bring in Rauch for the 9th?

    Bad decisions. Worse than losing the game is burning through 6 arms in 6 innings.

    I’m obviously worried about Farrell; hopefully it’ll just be a lost half season while he learns on the job.

  30. Sweet Jesus. That stat about Dotel vs. lefties blows my mind. Rookie mistake by Farrell? Sure, baseball isn’t ALWAYS about the stats, but good lord, that’s a no brainer. And 11 walks? Ugh.

  31. Point of interest: Luis Rodriguez, the first batter Dotel walked, had an OPS of .745 against lefties in his last season, 2009. Against righties, he hit for a .525 OPS.

    Likewise, Bradley over his career had an OPS of .868 against lefties as a right handed batter, and .783 as a left-handed batter against RHP.

    Hopefully that’s some insight on why they brought in Dotel; both of those guys were weaker against RHP than LHP. I still think they should’ve gone straight to Rzep or Camp though.

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