Okay, since I used a “Friends”-like title as a hook for this report, I’ll explain that story before giving the full game report for what turned out to be an exciting game.
Trailing 3-0 in the top of the eighth inning, the Dunedin Blue Jays loaded the bases with three singles and nobody out – their second, third, and fourth hits of the game. Threshers starter, Mark Leiter who had been very effective all night, then allowed a high fly ball to left field off the bat of Christian Lopes. Left fielder, Dylan Cozens retreated to the wall in front of the bullpens and appeared to have a bead on the ball all the way. He timed his jump at the wall, and looked like he might have brought the ball back. The reaction of the Jays bullpen quickly dispelled that thought as the ball landed in their bullpen.
Back on the infield, the Jays base runners had positioned themselves to advance if the ball was caught. Roemon Fields, the runner on first, represented the tying run and remained between bases so that he could tag and move up if the ball was caught and the throw went to third as anticipated. Lopes, who hadn’t hit a home run this season, was running all out and passed Fields between first and second. He still doesn’t have a home run this season.
Lopes was ruled out for passing the runner ahead of him and credited with a single and three RBI. Second baseman, Drew Stankiewicz was awarded the putout. Leiter retired the next two batters to end the inning. The score was tied and remained so until the tenth inning. Cozens later stated that the ball wasn’t going to clear the fence, that he made contact short of the fence and knocked the ball over. And, as if to prove that truth is stranger than fiction, Cozens later drove in the game winning run.
The game began as a pitchers’ duel. Dunedin’s LHP Jairo Labourt (their #10 prospect) allowed a single (picked off) and a walk in 5 of the 6.0 innings he pitched. However, the Threshers got to him for 4 hits in a 3-run fourth inning.
Mark Leiter was even better. He allowed only 3 base runners (a walk, a double, and a hit batter) in his first 7.0 innings. Unfortunately, after throwing 90 pitches, he was sent out to pitch the eighth. On four of his next eight pitches, the Jays got hits. The leadoff batter dropped an excellent bunt down the third base line to start the inning. The second batter grounded a ball sharply to Mitch Walding’s right that he was able to keep from getting into the corner and held the batter to an infield hit. After a visit by Coach Schrenk, the third batter line a single to left that Cozens almost caught while diving forward. Fortunately, he kept the ball in front of himself, almost getting a force out at third. That set the stage for the “three-run grand slam single”.
The Threshers’ offense really consisted of just two innings. The fourth and the tenth. In the fourth, Angelo Mora led off with a ground double down the left field line that the third baseman slowed down and deflected into left field. Mora moved to third on a ground out to second and scored on Dylan Cozens’ high chop single over a drawn-in second baseman. Chace Numata followed with a ground single throught the 5/6 hole. After a fly out, Devin Lohman deliverd a two-run double to left. Numata scored when the catcher couldn’t handle the relay.
In the tenth, Harris reached base for the second time in the game with a one-out walk. He stole second and Angelo Mora also completed his at bat with a base on balls. A new pitcher was brought in, a right-handed pitcher with Andrew Knapp and Cozens due up. Knapp fouled off several tough 3-2 pitches before working a walk to load the bases for Cozens. With one out, the Jays brought the infield in, figuring they would not be able to double-up the speedy outfielder. Didn’t matter, Cozens hit a sharp ground ball back through the middle for his second walkoff in five games. Cue the celebration.
As usual, I chart the starter’s pitches. Leiter’s fastballs accounted for 77 of his 104 pitches. He was 88-92 on those pitches, but he only touched 92 twice, once in each of the first two innings. He fell to 88 four times, once in the seventh, and 3 times in the eighth. While he was 89-91 in the early innings, most of those were 90-91. As the game progressed, the bulk of his FB were 89-90. He didn’t touch 91 over his last two innings. I would speculate that Leiter tired after the sixth inning. He threw 29 pitches after the sixth inning.
Leiter faced 21 batters through the first 6 innings. He threw first-pitch strikes (FPS) to 15 of them (but only 2 of the last 6 in that stretch). Over the last 2 innings, he faced 10 batters. He threw only 3 FPS in his last two innings. One was the bunt single, the other was the “grand slam”.
Edubray Ramos retired 6 batters on 93-94, T95 heat to earn the win. Tough luck for Leiter whose final line was a respectable – 8.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP, 104 pitches/67 strikes. Until the eighth inning he had a 90-pitch, 7.0 inning, one hitter.
Aaron Brown produced another web gem on the second pitch of the game. The Jays’ leadoff batter drove a ball hard into the RCF gap between Brown and Harris. Brown made a full-horizontal, diving catch while running full speed into the gap.
The box score and recap for the game is here.