Rookie righty gets Blue Jays out of jam in 8th, works around leadoff double in 9th
By Dan Toman
Special to MLB.com |
TORONTO -- On a day when one Blue Jays player was cementing his case to be an All-Star, another continued to prove why he might too be worthy of making the trip to Cincinnati next month.
Rookie right-hander Roberto Osuna complemented Josh Donaldson's offensive effort with his second multi-inning save this week, striking out two over 1 1/3 scoreless frames to preserve the Blue Jays' 3-2 victory over Texas at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
After recording a six-out save Monday against the Rays, Osuna entered Sunday's finale in the eighth with two outs and runners on the corners. He promptly struck out Shin-Soo Choo on three pitches before working around a leadoff double in the ninth to secure his second save of the season.
"I like it," Osuna told reporters after lowering his ERA to a sparkling 2.02 over 33 appearances. "I want to be in that situation, so it feels pretty comfortable."
With Brett Cecil stripped of his closer's job and manager John Gibbons in search of stability from his bullpen, the 20-year-old Osuna has emerged as a weapon for the Blue Jays in high-leverage situations.
"That's his second one right there more than an inning, and there's no doubt in my mind he can do it and be really good at it," Gibbons said. "I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do, we'll see how it plays out."
Osuna, who entered Sunday with the seventh-best strikeout rate (29.9 percent) among qualified AL relievers, neutralized the Rangers' big bats with a steady mix of changeups and high-90s fastballs. After allowing a double to Rougned Odor to begin the ninth, Osuna retired Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, and Mitch Moreland in order.
"Everybody knows I throw hard, so they're looking for a fastball," the hard-throwing reliever said. " ... I can't go every pitch 97 or 98, so I try to locate my fastball a little bit better and go to the breaking ball after that."
Donaldson, whose 18th homer of the season in the fourth broke a scoreless tie, says Osuna's presence in the Blue Jays' bullpen makes the offense-orientated club that much more dangerous.
"It's funny, every time we're facing a guy that's coming out of the 'pen, he's throwing 95, 96 to us, so it's nice to have him on our side," the Blue Jays third baseman said. "He's got the ability to mix pitches up, and it's not just dead-red heater. And I think that's what separates Osuna from a lot of younger guys who aren't in the big leagues right now that have good arms. He has the capability of throwing two or three pitches -- and throwing them for strikes as well.
"As a hitter, it makes it tough to get on one pitch because he has the ability to mix other pitches in there."
Dan Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.