In a game where the Toronto Blue Jays scored eight runs on 12 hits in an elimination game, all everyone was talking about after was what happened on the mound.
The Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 8-4 Monday to force a decisive Game 5 back in Toronto on Wednesday. Josh Donaldson, Chris Colabello and Kevin Pillar came up with huge home runs, yet the decision to use AL Cy Young award candidate David Price in relief of R.A. Dickey is the key talking point from the evening.
Dickey had thrown just 78 pitches and given up just one run when he was pulled from the game with two outs and a runner at first in the fifth inning. In came Price for his first relief appearance since 2010. He ended up throwing 50 pitches over three innings and allowing three runs.
The timing was also of particular interest. Dickey needed to record one more out to become the pitcher of record, and with his team up 7-1, would have been in position to pick up the win. These things matter to baseball players.
But with Shin-Soo Choo, a left-handed hitter, coming up, and fellow lefties Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland to follow, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons wanted to get a left-hander of his own in there. Since left-handed reliever Brett Cecil is done for the postseason with a torn calf muscle, Price was going to be the guy.
After the game Dickey played the role of team guy, admitting that as a competitor it’s always difficult to give up the ball but that he respected Gibbons’ judgement.
Gibbons also explained his thinking behind the move:
“I was hoping today to get five (innings) out of R.A., maybe six if things went well. We did have a nice little lead, (but) the way I looked at it, we were starting to roll around that top a little bit. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes the best way to win games is, don’t let a team get back into it.”
“When it comes down to it, my job is to manage the team and try to win the game. All those things factored in. I thought it was the best move. Probably not a popular move, but that’s what you’ve got to do. In the regular season, it’s different. That doesn’t happen. But in a do-or-die game for us and I’ve seen it too many times in this business, especially with the kind of lineup [Texas has] and the way things were stacking up for us. They get get a couple guys on [and hit] a long ball, it’s a totally different game.”
This is about more than just one game, though. Using Price on Monday means he can’t start in two days times, so 24-year-old right-hander Marcus Stroman will go for the Blue Jays in Game 5 on regular rest. Stroman’s been great since returning in September from an ACL injury that was supposed to keep him out all year, but it’s still a bit of a surprise.
Gibbons told reporters Price wouldn’t be available at all Wednesday, but Price says he should be ready to go in relief. Another Blue Jays win Wednesday and this will all be forgotten. But a loss and the questions and second-guessing will come back with a vengeance. That’s the way it is in October.
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