John Schneider was actually being facetious when he suggested pre-game the Blue Jays and Phillies were in for another “old fashioned pitching duel tonight.”
It was the Jays’ manager joking about the ridiculous amount of offence the night before for two clubs well-known for being ridiculously talented in that particular department.
The Jays and Phillies combined for 36 hits and 29 runs in the series opener which had even the suggestion of a pitchers’ duel being laughed at.
But a few hours later Schneider proved to be right on the money, at least as far as starters were concerned as Kevin Gausman and the duo of Zach Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard combined to give the Jays’ manager the exact pitching duel he mockingly suggested might be in the offing.
None were around for any sort of decision, however, as both bullpens took turns giving up three-run innings in the eighth before the Phillies settled it in the 10th before Adam Vierling capped off the four-hour eight minute marathon with a fifth single up the middle with the bases loaded to score Yairo Munoz with the winning run in a 4-3 Phillies win.
The Jays now head to Tampa with a two-game lead on the Rays who were also on the losing end Wednesday in their game with Houston.
The Jays did load the bases in the top of the 10th only to see Teoscar Hernandez ground into an inning-ending double play as pinch runner Bradley Zimmer was doubled off second on a ground ball.
Gausman was tremendous carrying the load for six innings. He scattered five hits while striking out eight including the first six outs of the night.
Gausman was at his best in those first two innings, but he was at his most clutch in the fifth when he loaded the bases with two out and got Bryce Harper on a comebacker to the mound to end the Phillies’ biggest threat.
Wheeler, who was coming of the injured list and not quite ready to shoulder a full load, went four innings which was probably one more than manager Robbie Thompson expected of him, shutting the Jays out over those four on just two hits.
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Syndergaard, the one-time Blue Jay draft pick who was dealt to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal, found himself in the unfamiliar relief role with the Phillies. He had made just one previous appearance in relief in his career but looked right at home in this one giving the Phillies two more shutout innings and getting the game to the sixth still looking for its first run.
Turns out that didn’t come until the eighth when the Phillies opened the door with a bad error and the Jays jumped all over it.
With Whit Merrifield at first and George Springer hitting with none out, Seranthony Dominguez got a room service ground ball to short off the bat of Springer only to see things fall apart behind him.
First Springer fell coming out of the box which may have played into the error Phillies shortstop Bryson Stott committed.
Stott wound up pushing a throw to second instead of taking the sure out at first and wound up throwing it over the head of Jean Segura, allowing Merrifield to scamper to third and Springer safe at first.
Two pitches later Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made the Phillies pay in a big way, taking the second sinker he saw from Dominguez well into the seats in left for a three-run homer.
It got Guerrero to the 30-homer plateau for the second year in a row and it gave the Jays the first lead of the game.
Tim Mayza was initially in line to pick up the win with a tough seventh inning.
On in relief of Gausman, Mayza pitched himself in a little jam walking lead-off hitter Nick Maton on four straight balls and then failing to come up with a bunt attempt to his left off the bat of Matt Vierling to put runners on first and second with none out.
Facing the top of the Phillies lineup, Mayza buckled down and got Kyle Schwarber to ground to first, eliminating Vierling at second and leaving runners on the corners with one down.
Mayza then struck out the Phillies two most dangerous hitters, Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper, to keep the game at zeros.
Yimi Garcia, the normally dependable lefty made things very interesting in the bottom of the eighth with a little help from some erratic defence behind him and wound up costing Mayza a win.
Garcia opened the inning giving up a solo homer to Phillies catcher JT Realmuto.
A throwing error by shortstop Bo Bichette on a Segura single allowed the Phillies baserunner to take second and opened the door to a game-tying three-run inning for the Phillies.
Consecutive singles by Maton, Vierling – who had the first four-hit night of his young career – and Schwarber evened the game.
All but the Schwarber hit came off Garcia with Jordan Romano giving up the final single to suffer his sixth blown save of the season.
EARLY EXIT: Second baseman Santiago Espinal was pulled from the game in the seventh inning with left side discomfort. It was unclear how Espinal injured himself. He was replaced by Cavan Biggio at second.