Yes, Blue Jays manager John Schneider was well aware that he had his slowest runner on third base with his team down by two runs in the eighth inning of what ended up to be a failed – and heartbreaking – loss on Tuesday night.
And yes, Schneider was well aware of the potential difficulties of having Alejandro Kirk standing on third representing a big run for a struggling team trying to win an important game against the Washington Nationals.
But if he had to make the call again, the manager said he would stick with it and keep Kirk in the game.
First a recap: After opting not to go with a pinch-runner, Kirk was gunned down at the plate after Nats centre fielder Jacob Young field a fly ball from Daulton Varsho and launched a bullet to home.
The double play ended the inning and left the Jays tailing 5-3. They’d add another run in the ninth to pull within one before suffering a loss that would plunge them 4.5 games out of the final American League wildcard spot.
“If it was anyone except Kirk that got thrown out, it probably wouldn’t have been questioned,” Schneider said prior to Wednesday afternoon’s rubber match of the tree-game series against Washington. “You have to deal with what you have available. My strategy hasn’t changed.”
In continued defence, Schneider pointed to what he felt was the more glaring in the failed comeback bid. His team loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth but just got one run across.
“You still have to get multiple hits at times,” Schneider said. “We did, if you guys didn’t notice, have the bases loaded with nobody out in the ninth inning and scored one run.
“Would that one run (in the eighth have) helped? Absolutely. If Brandon (Belt) was available, then (Mason) McCoy would have been running.”
Schneider had intended to use Belt earlier in the game — possibly in the sixth inning — but when the DH/first baseman began top loosen up, he was ruled out of the game due to back spasms. McCoy was called up on Monday to take the place of shortstop Bo Bichette, who was placed on the 10-day injured list.
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s game, Schneider defined the decision as well.
“The odds of a medium-depth fly ball with an average-throwing outfielder and Kirky at third was probably last on my bingo card,” Schneider said.
“Tying run, yeah, we would have had a runner there. Down by two? No.”