That series was quite the mess. It looked for awhile as though the Braves would salvage the getaway-day game this afternoon before heading back to the United States, but they just couldn’t get it done.
Atlanta jumped out to a 2-0 lead after their first couple of at-bats, highlighted by a long Ronald Acuna home run into the second deck. The homestanding Blue Jays scored three in the bottom of the second to briefly take a 3-2 lead, but the visitors came right back with two in the top of the third on an Ozzie Albies home run into the left-field bullpen giving the Braves the lead back. Kevin Pillar homered for an add-on run in the fourth, making it 5-3. Toronto got that run back in the bottom half of the frame, but the Braves led 5-4 going into the ninth, when Raisel Iglesias allowed three singles and a walk (the final blow a game-winning, two-run single by Danny Jansen) to allow the home side to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.
The offense undoubtedly did not light the world afire in the first two games of this series. It’s tough to win a game where you score only two runs (Saturday) and it’s even tougher to win one where you score none (Friday). However, they did play well enough to win this afternoon, and all three games continue to point to the pitching as an emerging concern. The bullpen threw away any chance of the Braves winning either of the first two games in this series. This was, admittedly, helped (or hurt, if you prefer) by Brian Snitker conceding a one-run game in the seventh inning on Friday, possibly because he knew he was going to go with a bullpen game today. The Braves got through the bullpen game in OK shape today…until Iglesias blew the save in the ninth.
The larger problem is that the solution to the fact that we have three starting pitchers in the majors right now seems to be to go with a bullpen game twice every five days. This is, to my eyes, a mind-boggling solution if it continues on Tuesday. This bullpen was already teetering in somewhat ominous fashion before they had to also become two starting pitchers. Only AJ Minter was concerning in a significant way, but it had not exactly been smooth. Now you’re going to demand that they cover like 25 innings a week? It’s completely unsustainable.
If we didn’t have anybody who could possibly start at Triple A, that would be one thing. However, we have no less than three pitchers who have started in the majors sitting at Triple A, two of them this season! If you tell me that Michael Soroka isn’t ready, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that. But Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd? What possible reason is there for them to be making starts in Triple A while we’ve got bullpen games twice a week up in the majors? They’ve both already had options used this season and, if it’s something about their development, that wasn’t a big enough concern to have them not be called up earlier in the season. Meanwhile, the bullpen is being stretched thin. But it sure doesn’t seem like they think Soroka is ready (which again, I totally understand) and they had Dodd start for Gwinnett today. So…it’s either gonna be Shuster or they’re gonna take the bullpen for another ride in Texas in just two days’ time. The latter makes absolutely no sense to me at all.
Thumbs up on the Rogers Centre refurbishment
To end on a side note, you can count me as impressed with the new-look Rogers Centre. SkyDome/Rogers Centre has been around for awhile now (the Blue Jays won the 1992 and ’93 World Series at then-SkyDome early in its life), and it kind of had a 70s/80s multi-purpose baseball/football stadium feel to it. The stadium did have to accommodate the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts as well, so that made some sense. With the Argonauts now across town, though, they finally gave the outfield area a facelift, and I thought it looked pretty much like a brand-new stadium. Open bullpens, fans closer to the action, varying heights for the outfield wall to inject a little variety there…all well done! And apparently they’re going to continue the refurbishment in multiple phases over the next few years. So yeah, keep up the good work in that department, Blue Jays/Rogers Communications!