Thole shoulders blame in Blue Jays' loss

Backup catcher's performance strong despite passed ball in 10th

Thole shoulders blame in Blue Jays' loss

BALTIMORE -- Josh Thole was having one of his best games in recent memory, but then it all came crashing down in the bottom of the 10th inning because of one passed ball.

Thole had a ball bounce off his glove with the bases loaded and two outs during the Blue Jays' 4-3 loss in extra innings. Toronto was one pitch away from potentially getting out of the sticky situation, but as the ball slipped away, so too did the victory.

The passed ball came with Rule 5 pick Joe Biagini on the mound for Toronto. After the game, Thole took full responsibility for the loss and went out of his way to protect the young reliever, but it sounds like the two got crossed up on what pitch had been called.

"I didn't catch it, that's the bottom line," Thole said of the sinker that got away. "Crossed up, or not crossed up, I need to catch the ball."

Thole was visibly upset after the game and appeared to be taking the loss hard. He remained at his locker for several minutes with his head down before eventually facing the media and taking the time to answer all questions, even though it likely was the last thing he wanted to be doing.

It was a frustrating end to an otherwise solid game from the backup catcher who only plays when R.A. Dickey, gets the start. In the sixth inning, Thole hit an opposite-field single that nearly scored Ryan Goins all the way from first base. The RBI never came to pass, as Goins was thrown out at home in a close play that went to review.

Thole also came through in a big way during the ninth inning. With the score tied at three, a runner on base and one out, Thole threw out Nolan Reimold as he attempted to steal second. It was the first time Thole threw somebody out at the Major League level since 2014, and it played a key role in getting the Blue Jays to extras.

Thole's quick throw

On a night like this, though, none of that mattered. The dominating topic was the passed ball, because if Thole had caught it -- or at the very least, had blocked it -- the Blue Jays and Orioles very well could have continued the game into the 11th.

"He had a great at-bat there and got a hit that almost helped us win the game," Dickey said of Thole. "He had a good game. He caught some balls tonight that were very good knuckleballs, and he made them look like strikes. It's unfortunate when a game ends like that, especially a well-fought game.

"We have to get used to games like this. We're in the AL East. There's a lot of good teams in our division, and this is going to be the norm more than the other. We have to learn how to win games like this, and we will."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.