Osuna rebounds, caps sweet relief with save

Blue Jays closer tosses clean 9th after rough stretch; bullpen works out of jams

Osuna rebounds, caps sweet relief with save

TORONTO -- The cutter has become a go-to pitch for Roberto Osuna this season, but the Blue Jays' closer conceded on Tuesday night that he might be using it so much that hitters are expecting it.

Osuna's comments came immediately after he bounced back from one of the toughest stretches in his career to toss a scoreless ninth in Toronto's 4-2 victory over the Yankees. Tuesday's outing was vintage Osuna. It was quick and easy, as he used just nine pitches to retire all three batters he faced.

Entering play on Tuesday, it was a different story. Osuna had blown three of his last five save opportunities and allowed nine runs over his previous 4 1/3 innings. He seems to have a theory on why there were so many issues.

"I have two options," Osuna said through an interpreter after admitting hitters have been sitting on his cutter. "Either I try to mix my pitches or I just make better pitches. I have to put it where I want, so better location. That way I can keep them off balance."

According to Statcast™, Osuna entered play on Tuesday having tossed 119 cutters, but the number likely is quite a bit higher, with some of those pitches registered on sliders.

Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera made a Hall of Fame career out of one pitch, so it can be done, but Osuna also has a lot more than that at his disposal. Osuna's four-seam fastball can hit the mid-90s, and he also possesses a wipe-out slider that generates a lot of swing and miss. Mixing it up would help, but more than anything Osuna knows most of his success comes down to location. And just because he threw a scoreless inning Tuesday, it doesn't mean he was perfect.

"I think it's just baseball stuff," said Osuna, who is second in the American League with 29 saves. "Today, I missed some pitches, too, and I got away with them. Some other times, I make good pitches and they still hit the ball. It's a fine line, but it's still baseball. I missed a couple of pitches today, but I think it went well."

Leone escapes trouble

Osuna wasn't the only one to have a big night out of the Blue Jays' bullpen on Tuesday night. Right-hander Dominic Leone entered in the sixth inning and stranded the bases loaded, including a pair of runners left on base by starter J.A. Happ. Ryan Tepera stranded another inherited runner in the seventh before loading the bases in the eighth but allowing just one run in the process.

That allowed the Blue Jays to preserve their eighth win out of their last 12 home games and enabled Happ to pick up a victory in back-to-back starts for just the second time this season.

"When you've got your closer, your setup guy, when they get into the game you sit back and watch, man," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's their job. They're not going to be perfect. You can't be perfect in this game. No doubt, Osuna has been in a little bit of a rut, so that was a big one for him."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. 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.