Short bench stings Blue Jays late in game

Short bench stings Blue Jays late in game

TORONTO -- Carrying a short bench and an eight-man bullpen hurt the Blue Jays late in their 10-8 loss to the Orioles Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jonathan Diaz found himself in an unlikely situation. Under normal circumstances, the Blue Jays would've turned to their bench to pinch-hit for the 5-foot-9, 155-pound infielder, who's hitting .154 on the season. But because they used up their bench players during a seventh-inning rally, the well was dry with the game on the line and Diaz hit into a game-ending double play.

Manager John Gibbons decided go all in with his bench in the seventh in an attempt to seize a golden offensive opportunity with two men on base.

Gibbons sent Moises Sierra to the plate in place of left-handed hitter Ryan Goins to face Baltimore lefty Brian Matusz. The Orioles then replaced Matusz with righty Darren O'Day, and Gibbons immediately responded by replacing Sierra with pinch-hitter Josh Thole. Thole singled to right, driving in one run, and was then replaced by Diaz on the basepaths. In one fell swoop, the entire Blue Jays bench was depleted.

"You try to use your best judgment," Gibbons said. "With two guys on there, you go for it. If one guy's on it's maybe different."

The inability of Toronto's starting rotation to pitch deep into games has been a growing concern as of late, and it's the main reason the Blue Jays decided to carry an eight-man bullpen in the first place. Only Mark Buehrle has averaged more than six innings per start this season, putting an extra strain on the team's relief corps, and creating the need to carry and extra relief arm.

"We need eight guys in the bullpen," said Gibbons. "That's just the way it is. Like it or not, that's the way it is."

By the end of Wednesday's game, Toronto's rotation ranked 27th in the Major Leagues in total innings pitched with 113 2/3.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.