If you tuned in to yesterday’s Blue Jays – Indians Canada Day Classic, you saw one hell of an… interesting game – especially if you stuck around for all 19 innings. While yesterday’s game doesn’t hold the record for longest Jays game ever in terms of time – that honour belongs to the August 10, 2014 game vs. the Detroit Tigers – it DID tie that game for longest game in terms of innings. And when you play that many innings, some weird things are bound to happen.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 2, 2016
Yes, that’s Ryan Goins – normally a middle infielder – on the mound. He and fellow middle infielder Darwin Barney each pitched one of the final two innings of the game for the Jays after the last guy in their bullpen, Bo Schultz, pitched three solid innings and looked like he hurt himself toward the end of it. We’ll get to their performances a little further down. I almost don’t even know where to start. When a game goes that long, things are bound to get overlooked… Like a solid 6.2-inning outing by Marcus Stroman, and good performances from every member of the Jays bullpen. But when you’re dealing with Vic Carapazza (and his ever-expanding strike zone) calling the balls and strikes and getting his feelings hurt with ridiculous ease, it’s easy to forget about that stuff. Let’s start in the first inning, when Edwin Encarnacion was called out on a pitch that was clearly off the plate to everyone except the umpire:
It’s bizarre to see Edwin get angry like that. He’s usually a mild-mannered guy who cranks balls out of the park to express his displeasure with something. And if you thought John Gibbons wasn’t going to come out to have a word, you thought wrong. It doesn’t help Encarnacion’s case that it appears he bumped into Carapazza, which is a BIG no-no… He at least kept his hands behind his back the whole time, showing some restraint. But Carapazza thought Gibby defending one of his star players was enough to warrant him getting tossed too. You can even see in a close up in that video that Carapazza says to Gibbons “I’m not perfect!” What a great way to justify the fact that you just tossed two people from a ball game after making a terrible call. What is this, amateur hour?
Gibbons now leads MLB with six ejections this season. We’re number one in something!
UPDATE: Encarnacion has been suspended 1 game and fined an undisclosed amount for bumping into Carapazza. Details HERE.
Now you might remember, this isn’t the first time the Jays have had problems with Carapazza. Remember Game 2 of the ALDS last year? There were some pretty funny responses to that game online.
Damn, strike zone, are you the NHL in the late 1960s because you’re expanding rapidly.
— Melissa Couto (@ThrowinSmoke) October 9, 2015
Anyway, after that happened, the game progressed along quickly enough. Cleveland scored a run in the third, Justin Smoak tied it up with a home run in the sixth… And then there was no more scoring until the final inning of the game.
But there were more fireworks before the game could get there… Like in the 13th inning, when Carapazza made one of his trademark awful strike calls for strike two (you can hear the crowd still booing following that as this video picks up). Watch what happens after Russell Martin (a good ol’ Canadian boy) strikes out to end the inning:
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a surge of patriotic pride seeing Martin let Carapazza hear it, dressed in his red jersey at home on Canada Day.
It’s especially fun that it took TWO Jays coaches to keep him back, and just barely. Why does Vic Carapazza hate Canada so much? Maybe he was bullied by a Canadian in high school.
If you’re wondering, like pretty much everyone in the stadium and watching on TV was, just what Russ said to Carapazza… Well, apparently it wasn’t what we all thought:
This is pretty much the definition of #UmpShow. People paid their hard-earned cash to see the Jays stars play – not to watch some power-tripping (and potentially visually impaired?) umpire toss them from the game.
I mean, the rest of the world is onto his game too. This Bloomberg Businessweek listing shows all MLB umpires in terms of correct call percentage. As you can see, nobody is perfect – but Carapazza is at the bottom of the pack, with 15% incorrect calls!
And Gregg Zaun, who I’m willing to call baseball’s version of Don Cherry, had some words following the end of the game:
“Damn near terrible.” Call it like it is, Zaun!
Then again, perhaps it had something to do with the batters complaining about the strike zone to him. Perhaps that’s what caused the strike zone to expand to the size of Pablo Sandoval’s belt. That’s been known to happen, as this story from former catcher Dave Valle illustrates:
Anyway, that’s enough about the umpire. As the game wore on, both teams exhausted their bullpen options. Cleveland opted to go with Trevor Bauer, who had been scheduled to start today. After a gutsy effort throwing 3 innings and injuring himself, Bo Schultz was done as the last arm out of the Jays pen… Marco Estrada was to start for the Jays today, but with his recent back problems, nobody wanted to risk messing that up by putting him into the game. So in came a couple of middle infielders to pitch – a very rare thing to happen in such a meaningful sitatuion in the 18th inning of a 1-1 tie.
You may remember last year in Game 4 of the ALCS, Cliff Pennington came on to pitch for the Jays (and in doing so was the first true position player to pitch in a postseason game)… But that was a vastly different situation, down 10 runs and looking to just scrape through the remainder of the game… You may also remember Pennington hitting 91 mph on the radar gun – which is about where Estrada tops out with his fastball.
First up was Ryan Goins, who by this point had been throwing in the bullpen for the better part of an inning. Buck Martinez even commented at one point that he would stop throwing if he was Goins, because you don’t want to get out there and be out of gas right away.
But Goins actually represented himself quite well on the mound, coming away with a scoreless inning and a Career 0.00 ERA!
He had a pretty impressive breaking ball, too. I’m actually a little surprised Ramirez could even get the bat on it:
It’s worth noting that the Jays kept getting baserunners in the late innings, but try as they might, they couldn’t bring them around to score.
After Goins’s scoreless inning, he had to leave the game with a little forearm tightness… So fellow middle infielder Darwin Barney took his turn toeing the rubber… and despite giving up what would be the winning run off a home run, he also looked quite impressive (for a position player) out there.
You can see all three of Barney’s outs in the inning HERE, minus the home run he gave up. But the most impressive pitch was that breaking ball he threw to strike out Mike Napoli:
So while Cleveland may have come out on top (might as well lose to the hottest team in baseball right now, if anyone), we’ll all remember that time when two Blue Jays position players pitched in the same game… AND we’ll all remember Goins’s scoreless inning!