Jays bullpen goes bump in Bronx night

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Aaron Loup, John Gibbons

 * Manager John Gibbons comes to the mound to remove RP Aaron Loup, who faced three hitters and didn’t retire a man Wednesday night. Closer Brett Cecil was left with a bases-loaded situation faced four men and retired one as the Blue Jays blew a two-run lead in the eighth.

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By Bob Elliott

NEW YORK _ Maybe the same thing would have happened had Jonathan Papelbon come out of the left field bullpen.

Or another lock down, shut-the-door, in-your-face bouncer at closing time called to the work an inning earlier than the norm.

Instead, with the winds blowing in, with the rains picking up, first set-up man Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil tried to protect the Blue Jays lead in the bottom of the eighth.

The Blue Jays had a 3-1 lead and seven batters later Loup was gone, Cecil was gone and so was the Jays lead.

Six reached base.

The game, marred by players as the legendary Ray Ratto once wrote, was finishing in conditions fit neither for man, nor beast, nor Jays reliever.

Chris Young blooped a double down the right field line which landed a few feet fair and Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to centre.

Loup, who hit six of 283 batters he faced last year, plunked Brett Gardner with a 2-1 pitch loading the bases.

Anyone remember the second game of a doubleheader last year at Target Field?

That one was nasty … this one almost as bad.

That night, April 17 — in the second game of a doubleheader the Jays took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth against the Minnesota Twins.

It went like this …

Steve Delabar went walk, walk and successful bunt to put runners at second and third with one out.

Then Sergio Santos took over and went walk, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch to tie the score, walk and wild pitch to give the Twins the lead.

Then, J.A. Happ came in and went walk, walk, two-run single, walk, strike out and a fly out.

The Twins managed six runs on one single.

The game Wednesday night at the small band box in the Bronx was not as decisive and not a sloppy — but it was equally as painful.

R.A. Dickey pitched a masterful 6 1/3 innings allowing one run.

The Yankees managed one run in Monday’s opening day loss and had one run on four hits through the first seven innings Wednesday.

Then, the wind-blown double, the line single and the hit batter.

What options did manager John Gibbons have with the bases loaded?

Roberto Osuna or Cecil? He went with Cecil.

The lefty closer’s second pitch went to the screen with Young scoring and putting the tying run on third. After striking out Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeria was walked intentionally, re-loading the bases.

Cecil then hit Brian McCann with a first-pitch change forcing in the tying run. Cecil hit four of the 234 batters he faced last year.

One of the reasons that the Jays signed Russell Martin for his expertise at framing pitches. It’s tough to a frame a pitch that doesn’t reach the catcher.

And now it was Chase Headley, who nubbed a 2-1 roller back to the mound. The ball kicked off Cecil’s wrist and deflected past shortstop Jose Reyes for what proved to be the winning run scored.

Osuna, 20, the youngest Jays pitcher in franchise history, took over to record the final two outs and had Cecil escaped the jam would have been asked to close out the Yankees in the ninth for his first-ever save.

Three runs on a line drive single, a bloop double, a walk, a wild pitch, two hit batters and a comebacker to the mound.

Wow!

The Jays have now lost 30 of their last 36 in the Bronx.

Strange things happen here … as Derek Jeter told Aaron Boone in the 2009 post season “ghosts come out in October.”

Someone mentioned to Gibbons how the rains picked up in the bottom of the eighth.

“Maybe it’s the ball park … Yankee Stadium,” Gibbons said. “Maybe it was the Great Bambino dumping on us.”

Whatever, a 2-0 start is now a 1-1 start with one game remaining before the Jays head to Baltimore.

This is not the kind of start the Jays envisioned.

This is not the kind of start that they had hoped for when hours before the game they were talking about the different clubhouse atmosphere … thanks to the arrival of Josh Donaldson, Martin and the youngsters.

While Castro had a second scoreless outing getting Alex Rodriguez to fly out and striking out Stephen Drew, the bullpen appears to need help.

Unless of course you brush this one off: how the Jays, who play at the Rogers Centre are a warm weather team, and rationalize that closers should not enter with the bases loaded and the tying run on second.

“The bullpen is the easiest thing to fix,” said one scout who braved the cold. “I’d rather have Toronto’s lineup than New York’s. Of course I’d rather have the Yankee bullpen than the Jays bullpen.

“But Toronto can trade a prospect for a reliever in a month. I’m telling you the bullpen is the easiest thing to fix.”

Papelbon sure would have looked good on this night moving everyone else up a slot in the bullpen pecking order.

After all Rogers Communications has shelled out $125.9 US in team payroll for 2015 — down from $137.2 million a year ago.

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