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Blue Jays walk it off in Buffalo debut

After blown save in ninth, Shaw records winning hit in 10th
@KeeganMatheson
August 11, 2020

The Blue Jays took the long road on Tuesday in their opener at Buffalo, N.Y.’s Sahlen Field, but Travis Shaw was the walk-off hero in the 10th in a 5-4 win over the Marlins that came at just the right time. After Danny Jansen bunted Anthony Alford over from second

The Blue Jays took the long road on Tuesday in their opener at Buffalo, N.Y.’s Sahlen Field, but Travis Shaw was the walk-off hero in the 10th in a 5-4 win over the Marlins that came at just the right time.

After Danny Jansen bunted Anthony Alford over from second to third to lead off the 10th inning, Cavan Biggio walked before Bo Bichette was intentionally walked to load the bases. Shaw worked a 2-2 count before lacing the walk-off single to right field, giving him the first and last hits of the game.

Box score

“Once they walked Bo, my job was just to get the ball to the outfield,” Shaw said after the win, downplaying the biggest hit of this young Blue Jays season. “Thankfully, I was able to do that."

After a 5-8 start to the season filled with close games and walk-off finishes that went in the other direction, Shaw, one of the veterans in the Blue Jays' lineup, knew that this wasn’t the time to panic, even after the bullpen gave up a late lead to force extras.

“Obviously, you’re going to have some tough losses, but you can’t feel sorry for yourself in that situation,” Shaw said. “They didn’t take the lead, so coming in there in the bottom of the 10th, we had a golden opportunity to get one run in and it’s over. Especially with the new extra-inning rules and we were at the top of the order. We did what we were supposed to do.”

Atkins: Toronto hitters 'trying to do too much'

Toronto’s bats were quiet for much of the game until Bichette dragged the Blue Jays out of a 1-0 deficit in the sixth inning with a three-run blast to left field. It was a no-doubter and just in time, as it gave Hyun-Jin Ryu a well-earned shot at the win after the veteran ace turned in six innings of one-run ball, allowing just two hits and striking out seven.

Bichette’s home run was exactly what the Blue Jays needed at exactly the right time, as they’d struggled to produce anything with runners on base entering play Tuesday. The blast broke a streak of 14 consecutive solo home runs by the Blue Jays and, following the old adage that hitting is contagious, Biggio followed it up with an RBI single the very next inning for some insurance that the Blue Jays have been desperate for over a long stretch of close games.

“He was throwing a lot of fastballs and he made a mistake with it,” Bichette said after the game, confident as ever. “I took advantage.”

The win was the Blue Jays’ first walk-off of the season, which is a different experience under COVID-19 protocols. The Blue Jays burst out of the dugout to mob Shaw when Alford crossed home, but quickly remembered they'd need to hold back on the high-fives.

“My first instinct was to go grab him and hug him,” Bichette said, “but halfway through my jog towards him, I thought, ‘Oh, wait, I’ve got to stay away from him.’ It was OK, though, it didn’t take away any of the excitement.”

Anthony Bass coughed up a three-run lead in the ninth to send the game to extras, his first misstep in the 2020 season coming at the wrong time. After Bass put two runners on, his pitch count had run up high and Francisco Cervelli launched his 31st pitch of the night over the left-field wall to tie the game.

These were the first runs allowed by Bass in 2020 after six scoreless appearances, but his manager isn’t second guessing his new closer.

“His command wasn’t there today,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He got to two outs, his command just wasn’t there. He actually hasn’t pitched in a while, so he was going to pitch either way, even if it wasn’t a save situation. He’s been really good. Him, [Jordan] Romano, [Rafael] Dolis and those guys, that’s why we’ve been in every game."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.