TORONTO — One of the questions that arose for the Toronto Blue Jays after the trade deadline earlier this month was whether they beefed up their flawed bullpen enough to be a serious contender.
Reliever Zach Pop, Adam Cimber, Anthony Bass, Yimi Garcia and closer Jordan Romano were a big reason the Blue Jays (61-51) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 comeback against Cleveland. Guardians (60-53) on Saturday.
With Cleveland leading 1-0, Toronto starter Mitch White found himself in trouble with two outs in the fourth inning. Toronto interim manager John Schneider handed the game over to his relievers. They blocked the visitors to allow Matt Chapman and Teoscar Hernandez to hit solo homers to lead off the fifth and seventh innings, respectively.
“Zach came over to clean up my mess,” White said. “I don’t mind passing the torch to them. They were amazing.”
Bass and Pop were two arms added to the Blue Jays’ bullpen at the trade deadline. Bass (3-3) earned the win in his seventh earned inning.
“You can’t say enough about the work they did from Pop to Cimber to Bass to Yimi,” said Schneider. “Everyone stepped forward.
“They’ve been really, really good for a while now. So they lined up well after Mitch and just a credit to those guys. They were all pretty much nails.”
The bullpen has shone in the past two games with a combined 9 ⅓ scoreless innings.
In Friday’s series opener, an 8-0 loss, Pop, Trevor Richards, Trent Thornton, Cimber and David Phelps each pitched a scoreless inning.
Meanwhile, Romano earned his 26th save with a four-out appearance Saturday, the fourth time he’s pitched more than one inning since Schneider replaced Charlie Montoyo.
“(Romano) showed he can do it,” Schneider said. “I trust him anywhere, really.”
The Guardians (60-53) saw their six-game winning streak end before 44,977 at Rogers Center.
Cleveland opened with a run in the first inning.
Steven Kwan led off with a walk and advanced to second when Canada’s Josh Naylor got a two-out free pass. Andrés Giménez knocked out Kwan with a single to center field.
Toronto slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. extended his hitting streak to a career-high 22 games with a first-inning double. But for the most part, the Blue Jays continued to be blocked by Cleveland’s pitch.
Ultimately, Chapman led off the fifth inning with his drive to left center field to tie the game and end a 16-inning scoreless streak for Toronto.
Chapman’s game-tying home run also tied him for the team lead with Guerrero at 23.
With the game tied, Hernandez drove Cleveland starter Tristan McKenzie (8-9) into left center field for his 17th home run.
“It’s been a tough time,” Hernandez said. “We’ve been facing a lot of good pitchers.”
Blue Jays center fielder Raimel Tapia made two brilliant catches. With a runner on first and no outs, the lefty fielder made a diving catch to the left of him on an Amed Rosario line drive in the opening inning.
In the fifth inning, Tapia made a running catch over his right shoulder on the warning track to the left center of José Ramírez’s bat to end the inning with runners on first and second.
Tapia was also ejected at the plate, trying to score with a single from second base to end the seventh inning.
Toronto’s White went 4 ⅔ innings, allowing one run on three hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
After a rough first inning, White retired eight straight before walking Gimenez in the fourth inning.
Ross Stripling rejoined the Blue Jays on Saturday after his successful five-inning shutout rehab start for Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. He could find a spot in the rotation as early as Wednesday if the Blue Jays decide to give the troubled José Berríos an extra day off.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Toronto right-hander Kevin Gausman (8-8) will face Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (7-6) in the series finale on Sunday. The Blue Jays continue their six-game homestand with the first of three against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 13, 2022