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Blue Jays implode in the ninth as brilliant Waguespack effort wasted in loss to Dodgers

Jacob Waguespack of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Jacob Waguespack of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — Out of the Dodgers dugout here at Chavez Ravine on Thursday night, manager Dave Roberts fielded one of the deepest lineups in baseball.

Out of the visitors dugout, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo handed in a lineup card in which seven of his hitters — including starter Jacob Waguespack — were rookies.

Baseball being baseball, of course, the unpredictable almost happened as the brazen group of Toronto youngsters nearly pulled off an epic upset of the two-time reigning National League champs.

Instead, they left town with one of the most difficult losses of the season as a Kiki Hernandez walkoff single  capped off a three-run ninth for the Dodgers. leading to a 3-2 win.

Sure. they are young and getting used to losing, but this one will sting for a while. And that’s mainly due to the brilliance of Waguespack, who pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout ball and deserved so much more.

It was all put to waste in the ninth, however. With closer Ken Giles exiting the team for parental leave, Derek Law, who needed just one pitch to get out of the eighth inning, returned for the ninth and promptly imploded, allowing three runs as the Jays were walked off for a second consecutive night.

The 25-year-old Waguespack came to work undaunted by a Dodgers team that entered the night with a 50-16 mark here, the best home record in baseball. The undrafted right-hander retired the final 14 batters he faced. And, get this: The only Dodger to get a hit off of him was starting pitcher Kenta Maeda.

Waguespack has emerged as quite the story on a rotation in need of a workhorse. He’s now won four consecutive decisions and allowed just four runs over that stretch. The 6-foot-6 hurler certainly quieted the Dodger Stadium crowd of 49,796 as he struck out five and walked just one before leaving after throwing 95 pitches.

In a discussion with Jays pitching coach Pete Walker prior to the game, he couldn’t say enough about Waguespack making the best of the opportunity he’s been given this summer.

“He’s been great,” Walker said. “Sometimes all a kid like that needs is a chance. Sometimes their stuff plays better at the major-league level. Sometimes they just raise their game.”

The highlight of the night, offensively for the Jays, was the 15th home run of the season by the most celebrated of the rookie hitters, Vlad Guerrero Jr. His 413-foot blast gave the Jays a 2-0 lead and he continued his sizzling streak since the all-star break. In his first series at Dodger Stadium, Guerrero had 10 plate appearances and was retired just twice as he added a pair of singles to his homer on Thursday.

Guerrero also chipped in with some defence when he made a cat-like snag of a Russell Martin liner in the eighth to keep the bases clean.

Though he maintains a chill demeanour about it in his public comments, Guerrero clearly relishes big moments such as playing at an historic stadium such as this one and facing one of the best teams in the game.

Overall, the night itself was another endorsement for the Jays youth brigade. It’s just the sixth time in club history that the team has had seven rookie hitters in the order. The previous five times came in the inaugural 1977 season.

The Jays have now lost five in a row and six of their past seven as their record fell to 52-78.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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