Jays power way to improbable comeback

AP Photo/Al Behrman

Edwin Encarnacion now has twice as many multi-HR games as any other player this season.

The Toronto Blue Jays have been known for their bats this season, entering the day ranking fourth in MLB in runs per game (4.6). But even they couldn’t have foreseen what happened Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds.

Trailing 8-0 after two innings, the Blue Jays rallied to beat the Reds 14-9. It was their second-largest comeback in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Toronto was down 10 runs in the seventh inning on June 4, 1989 at Boston before coming back to win.

Friday, Toronto’s win probability (based on teams throughout history in similar situations) dipped as low as 1.1 percent after Jose Reyes grounded out for the second out of the top of the 3rd.

Largest Wins After Trailing by 8+ Runs
Wild-Card Era (Since 1994)

Elias tells us that over the last five seasons, teams with a lead of eight or more runs were 1158-6 (99.5 percent). The Blue Jays’ victory was even more unusual in that they not only came back to win but won by five runs. It was the fourth-largest win by a team that trailed by at least eight runs in the wild-card era (since 1994).

Let’s look closer at the comeback, breaking down Toronto’s win probability at key points.

• Already trailing 6-0 in the second inning, a Jay Bruce home run gave the Reds an 8-0 lead, and the Blue Jays’ win probability sat at 1.6 percent.

• After Todd Redmond and Reyes made the first two outs of the third inning, Toronto’s win probability dipped to its lowest point at 1.1 percent.

Edwin Encarnacion (more on him below) hit a three-run home run in the third inning to cut the Reds lead to 8-3 and increase Toronto’s win expectancy to 5.7 percent.

• Trailing 9-4 in the sixth inning, the Blue Jays’ win probability sat at 5.3 percent when Jose Bautista came up with the bases loaded. He walked to cut the score to 9-5 and increase Toronto’s win expectancy to 9.2 percent, the highest it had been since the second inning.

• Toronto’s win probability did not get above 10 percent until the seventh inning, when a Juan Francisco two-run pinch-hit homer cut the lead to 9-8. The Blue Jays’ win probability jumped all the way from 6.6 percent to 21.5 percent with the hit.

• Still down a run with two outs in the eighth inning, Toronto’s win probability was 17.5 percent until Dioner Navarro's double tied it. That increased its win expectancy to 47.7 percent, the second-largest jump (30.2 percent) of the game.

• When Erik Kratz followed with the go-ahead double in the ninth to make it 10-9, the Jays’ win probability went up to 86.9 percent, and increased to 99.5 percent after they scored four more runs that inning, including another homer by Encarnacion.

Player of the game:

Encarnacion finished 2-for-5 with two homers and six RBIs. He now has six multi-HR games this season, twice the amount of any other player (Giancarlo Stanton and José Abreu each have three). Four teams this season don’t have any player with a multi-HR game (Twins, Tigers, Nationals, Phillies).