ATLANTA – Sometimes baseball players get away with their mistakes, the way Lourdes Gurriel Jr., did Tuesday night, when he misread the trajectory of a Randal Grichuk single, broke late and failed to score the go-ahead run. When Russell Martin, the next batter, drove him in and the Toronto Blue Jays eventually won, the untimely hesitation ended up being no biggie.
At other times, however, a little mistake can sabotage an inning, an outing or an entire game, the way Justin Smoak’s attempt to get an out at home on Mike Foltynewicz’s squeeze attempt opened the floodgates to a six-run second that the Atlanta Braves rode to a 9-5 win Wednesday.
The bunt was part of a messy and unfortunate sequence of events for the Blue Jays that prevented Sam Gaviglio from getting out of the second inning in his shortest outing of the year. Relievers Jake Petricka, Tim Mayza, Luis Santos, John Axford, Aaron Loup and Joe Biagini covered the remaining 6.1 frames, leaving the bullpen a hangover it will need J.A. Happ to cure with a long outing Thursday in Boston.
That’s a less than an ideal situation with Marco Estrada still questionable to start Saturday despite throwing a side Wednesday. A bullpen day was one option under consideration if he indeed can’t go this weekend.
Things sure can get messy in a hurry.
The origins of the Blue Jays’ disaster inning trace back to the Braves starting Johan Camargo with the count full on Dansby Swanson, who fought back from an 0-2 hole against Gaviglio and fouled off four pitches before rolling over a sinker to shortstop. Because Camargo was going, a tailor-made double-play ball rolled through to the right of Aledmys Diaz, who had charged left to cover second base.
So instead of the inning being over with the pitcher’s spot leading off the third, Foltynewicz came up with men on the corners and one out, promptly got ahead 2-0 and after fouling off a changeup, he bunted a sinker up the first-base line.
Smoak charged the play and with the big man’s momentum lumbering toward the plate, scooped the ball home in the hopes of getting Camargo rather than conceding the run and taking the sure out at first. The ball arrived late, the run scored and Luke Maile exacerbated matters by trying for an out at first and firing the ball way over the head of Gurriel, covering at the bag.
The inning unravelled on Gaviglio from there, as Ender Inciarte followed with a run-scoring double, Ozzie Albies hit a sacrifice fly, Freddie Freeman ripped an RBI single, Nick Markakis followed with an RBI double to left that Teoscar Hernandez played tentatively and Tyler Flowers capped the rally with an RBI single.
That was the merciful end for Gaviglio, who allowed six runs on six hits with a strikeout, and was by no means sharp, but certainly not as dreadful as his pitching line might suggest.
Still, the damage was such that by the time the Blue Jays broke through …read more