OTTAWA FAT CATS 8, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 1
By Michael Radoslav
After stringing together their first set of consecutive wins this season, the Toronto Maple Leaf ball club fell back to earth with an 8–1 loss to the Ottawa Fat Cats on Wednesday night.
“It was just one of those days where the baseball gods just weren’t on our side,” said Glen Jackson, who provided the Leafs their only run of the game. “We didn’t catch any breaks.”
The Maple Leafs entered action ready to continue their climb back up the standings, playing an Ottawa team they defeated 6–4 in the season opener. However, Toronto ran into the same problems that have dogged the team the whole season—a lack of run support, and a substandard bullpen.
The Leafs managed one run on five hits against Ottawa starter James Amelotte, and four of Ottawa’s eight runs came against the relief staff in the ninth inning.
“The way we played the first six and a half innings, we did hit some balls and did draw some walks, but I think we just got frustrated,” Jackson said, as the Leafs hit into a couple double-plays, and found themselves at odds with the umpire crew.
Ottawa opened the scoring in what would become an eventful first inning. Tony Kirbis, starting for the first time this season, walked the first Ottawa batter Cody Mombourquette, and then gave up a home run on the very next pitch to Jason Coker to give the Fat Cats an early 2–0 lead.
Following another walk Ottawa’s Eitan Maoz drove in a run on a double to centre field, making it 3–0 for Ottawa before the first out of the game was recorded.
Kirbis settled down after that, striking out the next four batters straight. Outside of the first inning Kirbis pitched a solid game through his eight innings of work. He allowed four runs on six hits while surrendering two walks, and recording nine strikeouts in a losing effort.
Amelotte got the win for Ottawa, with Josh Soffer registering a save in relief.
Toronto’s lone run came from Jackson’s solo home run leading off Toronto’s first inning. The Leafs were unable to manage much offence outside of that solo blast, tallying only five hits on the night. “What can I say, all things that start well don’t always end well,” Jackson said.
The lack of consistent offensive output caused tensions to erupt in the third inning as Toronto’s third baseman Will Richards hit a ball well out of the park with two runners on base, which the umpire along the first baseline called foul. Leafs manager Tim Harkness came out to debate the call, but cooler heads prevailed.
“It’s all about breaks,” Jackson said. “You can’t blame the umps, they’re doing the best they can.”
Although the team entered the game with a “good vibe going,” Jackson said frustration mounted as the Leafs failed to string together hits, which also became directed towards the umpire crew following the disputed home run call.
Harkness declined to speak with the media following the game, only saying he had no comment on what had just taken place. Harkness had words with the umpire at first base following the called back home run, clearly stating his disapproval.
Harkness has previously said he has concerns with Toronto’s bullpen, which last night’s performance will surely not help to alleviate. Trailing 4–1 in the ninth, the Leafs Adam Garner came on in relief of Kirbis, and allowed three runs with two walks, throwing a couple wild pitches as well to help advance on base runners.
Brett Lawson, a starting pitcher for Toronto, came in to relieve Garner and close out the inning. Lawson gave up one unearned run on an error to the outfield, which rounded out the scoring for Ottawa.
Jackson said despite the loss, questions over officiating and the late game breakdown there are no issues in the clubhouse among players. “We’re good as a team, we’re just continuing to find our identity and to push.”
Jackson feels the team has to bounce back for their game in Hamilton on Friday night. “We need to climb in the standings, we have no choice,” he said. “We’re behind, not ahead.”
With the win, the Ottawa Fat Cats improve to 8-9 on the season. The Maple Leafs fall to 5–10 for the season.
The next game for the Toronto Maple Leaf baseball club is this Friday night in Hamilton, the next home game Sunday June 17 at 2 p.m. against the Brantford Red Sox at Dominico Field at Christie Pits.