It was an “on the couch, sports watching, beer drinking” night last night. A good old fashioned man night.
And for a while it was disappointing.
On CBC, the Canucks were being blown out by the Bruins.
On Sportsnet, the Jays were blowing out the Royals. It’s always nice when the Blue Jays win in a blowout, but sometimes you’re just in the mood for a nail biter. It makes the beer taste better.
But with a 9-4 lead in the bottom of the 8th, this was blowout-ville.
Except for one thing – the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen doesn’t believe in blowouts. They like everything to come down to the wire.
And come down to the wire it did. KC was about four feet away from tying the game in the ninth, with Melky Cabrera’s flare to short nearly getting over the head of Mike McCoy. If that flare made contact just a fraction of an inch closer to the barrel of the bat, Alex Gordon scores from second and the 9-4 lead is gone.
As it is, the Jays won 9-8. Yes, at the end of the day, the win is all that matters. Yes a 9-8 win is worth exactly the same as a 9-4 win, or a 9-0 win.
But please – can we do without the drama? Because the late innings of this 2011 season have been loaded with drama, and most of it self made.
The Blue Jays as a team have combined for 14 saves so far this year. Of those 14 saves, 13 can be said to be legitimate saves (on May 6th the Jays took a 6-run lead into the ninth, only to see Shawn Camp allow three runs and thus enable Francisco to “earn” a save).
Out of those 13 legit saves, the Toronto relievers have thrown a drama-free, three-up three-down ninth inning in five of them. Five!!! That means that in over 60% of the games that the Jays head to the ninth with a 3-run lead or less, the pitcher fails to lock the game down without trouble.
On eight separate occasions pitchers have allowed at least one base hit. Three times they have walked at least one batter. Five of the 9th innings have seen a run come into score, trimming a 3-run lead to two, or a 2-run lead to one.
In other words, they make close games even closer, bringing disaster that much closer to reality.
And don’t forget – those numbers are only for games where they were actually successful in closing out the game and earning the save. According to baseball-reference, the Jays are only 14 for 23 in save opportunities, so there are nine blown saves mixed in as well!
I can’t say anything about the rest of the league. I didn’t bother looing up the data to see how other teams fare in the ninth inning. The Jays could be below average or above average. I don’t know.
But I don’t care.
The point isn’t how well they compare to others. It’s about the constant failure to go 1-2-3 in the ninth.
And while I’m happy that the team wins, I’d much rather they win without elevating my heart rate to the extreme.
Anybody have Tom Henke’s number?