TORONTO -- The Blue Jays haven't enjoyed a lot of big moments this season, but the ones they experienced have been nothing short of dramatic.Toronto picked up its fourth walk-off victory of the season as shortstop Aledmys Diaz hit an RBI single to left in the bottom of the 10th
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays haven't enjoyed a lot of big moments this season, but the ones they experienced have been nothing short of dramatic.
Toronto picked up its fourth walk-off victory of the season as shortstop Aledmys Diaz hit an RBI single to left in the bottom of the 10th inning on Thursday night at Rogers Centre. Diaz's timely hit, combined with a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth, sent the Blue Jays to an improbable 5-4 victory over the Orioles at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays improved to 6-1 in extra-inning games this season and, more important, they finally have something to celebrate following a stretch in which there were 17 losses over 22 games. There hasn't been a lot to celebrate lately, but don't tell that to the guys who poured onto the field to exalt in one of the rare highs.
"As tough as things have been, one thing I know about the guys, they show up, they don't quit," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Sometimes things look ugly, but I know what's going on inside their heads and inside their guts. But obviously, we desperately needed that, if you want to know the truth. Maybe that will get us on a roll a little bit, we'll see."
The Blue Jays' night ended with a bang, but not too long before that they appeared to be down and out. Toronto entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing, 4-1, and Kendrys Morales began the frame with a weak popout to left. One night after being shut out by the Yankees over 13 innings, the lineup appeared destined for another quiet night. But then everything changed.
Luke Maile drew a one-out walk. Diaz and Randal Grichuk hit back-to-back doubles and Kevin Pillar came through with a game-tying line-drive single up the middle off Orioles closer Brad Brach. Toronto could not seal the deal in that inning, but in the following frame they did when Diaz delivered the two-out single as the Blue Jays snapped a mini two-game losing streak, including a 3-0 loss to the Yankees in 13 innings on Wednesday night.
"It feels great knowing that we have been struggling lately and what happened yesterday," Diaz said through an interpreter. "Just shows that we haven't put our head down. We know it's a long season. We know we have to grind, and it feels great to have a win like that. Hopefully it's just going to keep going."
The late-inning heroics overshadowed another off night from the bullpen. Lefty starter Jaime Garcia left after six innings with the score tied at 1, but Tyler Clippard promptly surrendered a solo home run to Austin Wynns in the seventh and right-hander John Axford gave up two more to Danny Valencia and Mark Trumbo in the eighth.
Garcia, who left the game with a blister issue, came away with the no-decision after he limited the Orioles to one run. Garcia's strong outing followed similar performances from Sam Gaviglio, Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada, as Toronto picked up four consecutive quality starts for the first time since Sept. 21-28, 2016, when the club had seven in a row.
"It was huge, the guys played great today," said Garcia, who added he doesn't believe the blister will cause him to miss a start. "Our defense did a really good job to keep us there and to be able to come back against a good closer, a good team, was huge for us. Hopefully now we can build off of that and get on a good roll."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The extra base: Teoscar Hernandez led off the bottom of the 10th with a double to left and he can thank his legs for that. Hernandez initially looked like he would be held to a single, but he forced the issue. Baltimore left fielder Joey Rickard had a shot at second, but his throw was a little bit wide of the bag and Hernandez snuck in safely. With a base open, the Orioles intentionally walked Justin Smoak and, while the next two batters struck out, Diaz ultimately saved the day with his timely hit to left.
"I love that, I'm a big believer in hustling out of the box and big things can happen," Grichuk said. "You can stretch doubles into triples, singles into doubles and that was a prime example of that."
Wheels in motion: Pillar's game-tying single in the bottom of the ninth left his bat at 94.7 mph and got to center fielder Adam Jones in a hurry. Grichuk started the play at second base, but he got a good read on the ball and realized Jones would not be able to catch it on the fly. He took off for third, rounded the bag without hesitation and slid into home. A good throw might have gotten him, but Jones' toss was a little wide. That opened the door for Grichuk to score and for the Blue Jays, it was a good thing he did because the next batter -- Yangervis Solarte -- grounded into a double play.
"Off the bat I thought it was definitely down, and then I kind of had to read it," Grichuk said. "I saw it got down, or saw it was about to get down, and took off. I thought he was going to stop me, but I was running hard and he sent me. Luckily we were able to slide in there safe."
The Blue Jays went to extra innings in consecutive games for the first time since April 25-27, 2017. Toronto has 14 come-from-behind victories on the season.
The Blue Jays will turn to their most reliable starter this season when veteran lefty J.A. Happ (7-3, 4.08 ERA) takes the mound against the Orioles on Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Happ has struck out at least eight batters in eight of his last 12 starts and hasn't lost since May 10. Josh Donaldson is eligible to return from the 10-day disabled list for the game but it's not immediately clear if he will be available. Baltimore will counter with right-hander Andrew Cashner (2-7, 5.02 ERA).
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.