Even when they are down, the Blue Jays are never out because of their prowess at the plate.
Saturday night in Dunedin, Fla., against the visiting Atlanta Braves, the Jays trailed 4-0 early after surrendering a grand slam, gradually inching closer, eventually tying it up on a long night at TD Ballpark that went into extra innings.
The Blue Jays prevailed, 6-5, reinforcing how no lead is safe, no game out of reach.
Randal Grichuk delivered the key hit in the 10th.
George Springer had his most explosive outing at the plate, belting two home runs in his third game with the Blue Jays. His second blast tied the game, 5-5, in the seventh inning on a ball that went deep over the left-field wall on a homer estimated at 470 feet. Both of his long balls came off 3-0 counts.
In all three games Springer has been used at DH.
On Wednesday, Springer made his long-awaited debut after recovering from two injuries, including a setback to his quad.
In his first at-bat Saturday, Springer grabbed his right quad trying to run out a grounder. Springer clearly felt something just as he was approaching the bag, but he persevered.
Springer made the last out in the bottom of the ninth. Santiago Espinal would pinch run for Springer in the 10th and ended up crossing the plate with the winning run.
Curiously, the Braves decided to walk Cavan Biggio intentionally to load the bases in the bottom of the 10th.
Grichuk then stepped to the plate.
“It was an opportunity to do something special,” said Grichuk, who predictably felt disrespected watching the Braves intentionally load the bases. “I told myself to not try to do too much. That was my mindset.”
Springer has two homers following his stint on the injured list.
Toronto’s order is deep, which is not lost on Grichuk.
“If you’re not on, you don’t have to carry the team,” added Grichuk. “We have guys who can do it on any given night.”
Springer said during a TV interview with Sportsnet how he’s trying to be smart with his quad.
“I don’t want to do something stupid,” he said.
As for playing the outfield, Springer added how the daily communication with manager Charlie Montoyo will determine when he lines up at centre field.
In his second at-bat, Springer went to the opposite field for a two-run homer.
This time, he didn’t have to run hard, opting for the more traditional method of jogging when rounding the bases.
“It’s a good feeling to have a guy like that,” said Montoyo of Springer.
The manager appreciated how Springer went all out on the ground out.
“You have to be careful,” he said. “It wasn’t enough to be out of the game. He was a big part of the win.”
The Jays went with an opener in Travis Bergen, who retired the Braves in order.
Tommy Milone started the second inning and gave up back-to-back two-out singles.
An infield hit by Austin Riley loaded the bases on a soft ground ball up the third base line.
Cristian Pache then crushed a 2-2 pitch on a 76-m.p.h. changeup deep to left for a grand slam, Pache’s first-career home run.
Ronald Acuna Jr. led off the fifth with his ninth home run of the season, a 422-foot blast that gave his team a 5-2 advantage.
AROUND THE BASES
Alejandro Kirk left Saturday’s game with a hip flexor injury. Montoyo didn’t have any information on its severity, but he did say Danny Jansen will be behind the plate in the series finale … No issues with the sun when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. recorded the out on a fly ball from leadoff hitter Acuna Jr. because there was no sun to battle in the wake of the Jays pushing back their start times by 30 minutes … Bo Bichette was playing in his 100th game and singled to centre on a line drive in his first at-bat … RHP Ross Stripling is likely to start Sunday’s series finale … Springer produced his 15th-career multi-homer game … Vlad Jr. went 1-for-3 with a single, an intentional walk and a HBP. He has reached base 53 times in the team’s first 25 games of the season, third-most in Blue Jays history.
ROMANO JOINS THE 100 CLUB
Jordan Romano had a feeling a pitch he threw Friday night had some extra heat.
Turns out he was right.
He looked up at the scoreboard and 100 would get posted as its velocity.
“I saw it right away,” said Romano. “It was exciting. It’s something I wanted to throw. It was kind of cool and I was happy with it.”
Romano is fully recovered from an ulnar neuritis setback that landed the right-hander on the injured list.
Looking back, Romano said he felt something in his elbow after making a pitch.
“It was sort of like hitting your funny bone,” added Romano. “It was kind of like a jolt.”
Romano said he experienced something similar in 2017.
He entered Saturday night’s extra-inning game in the 10th.
Romano stranded Alex Jackson at third.
Romano earned the win, his second of the season.