Blue Jays complete comeback win with two-run 10th
Bautista, Encarnacion provide timely home runs as Toronto evens series
CHICAGO -- The Blue Jays appeared headed for another loss on Wednesday night, but the combination of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion helped change that in a hurry.
The heart of Toronto's lineup drove in three runs with a pair of well-timed homers to help salvage at least one game at U.S. Cellular Field and put the Blue Jays a win away from taking their second consecutive series.
Bautista's solo homer in the ninth inning came when the Blue Jays were down to their final strike and helped force a 10th inning when Rajai Davis would come around to score the winning run on a wild pitch in a 7-5 victory over Chicago.
"I was lucky enough that he hung me a slider," Bautista said of his homer off White Sox closer Addison Reed. "To be honest, I was kind of glad because today off of him I wasn't picking up the fastball all that great.
"He throws across his body. I haven't faced him in a couple of years, and I think yesterday when he pitched he was throwing 90, 91, 92 mph, and today he was throwing a little harder. ... It worked to my advantage that he chose that pitch and he hung it."
Toronto was in serious danger of dropping back to 10 games under .500 when it entered the ninth trailing by one. Reed has been one of the best closers in baseball this season, and he began that inning with just one blown save in 20 opportunities.
It appeared as though this would be another easy save as Reed disposed of the first two batters he faced and then got ahead of Bautista 0-2. Bautista took a close pitch before lifting a towering fly ball to left field on an 86-mph slider. The ball stayed fair and went just over the wall to tie the game at 5, giving Bautista his third home run in his past two games.
With two strikes, Bautista was thinking fastball, but in this particular scenario it didn't really matter.
"I was, but when that happens and the pitch is up in the zone like that, sometimes you hit it," Bautista said of his 15th homer of the year. "I didn't hit it cleanly or perfect or great -- I was just able to hit it good enough."
Davis then led off the 10th with a sharp single to left against right-hander Ramon Troncoso and promptly stole second base. He advanced to third on a fly ball to right by Adam Lind before coming around to score when Troncoso bounced one in the dirt during the very next at-bat.
Toronto added a second run later in the frame on yet another miscue by the White Sox. Maicer Izturis attempted to go from first to home on a double to left and should have been out by a few feet, but catcher Tyler Flowers dropped the ball and Toronto was granted an insurance run.
That allowed the Blue Jays to improve their record in extra-inning games to 5-5. It was their fifth extra-inning affair in their past 13 games, but mercifully for the club this one didn't last 17 or 18 innings like a pair of recent games against San Diego and Texas.
For the White Sox, it was the one poorly located slider that made all of the difference.
"I felt great out there," Reed said of his first blown save since May 5 against Kansas City. "One bad pitch, and the next thing you know, tie ballgame. Everything felt good. I felt great out there. Felt strong. One mistake."
Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang made his season debut after officially signing a contract earlier in the day to fill one of the glaring holes in Toronto's rotation.
The 32-year-old spent the first two months of the year pitching for Triple-A Scranton of the Yankees' system. He opted out of that contract after receiving an opportunity with the Blue Jays because of a right forearm injury to right-hander Brandon Morrow.
With the exception of a bad fourth inning, Wang gave the Blue Jays everything they could have hoped for. He allowed five runs with most of the damage coming on a pair of home runs by Adam Dunn and Conor Gillaspie, but Wang did get through 7 1/3 innings and provided some much-needed rest to an overworked bullpen.
"He started pitching really well when he started using his breaking ball," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Early in the game he was a one-pitch guy. I even told him, 'When you were back with the Yankees, you were throwing in the mid 90s, and it's a different look. Now you've got to pitch a little more.' When he started doing that with the curveball and the changeup, totally different guy."
Toronto opened its scoring in the second thanks in part to a pair of defensive miscues by the White Sox. Mark DeRosa reached base on an error to lead off the inning and, after a double by Lind, he eventually scored on a passed ball by Flowers.
Izturis followed later in the inning with an RBI single off Chicago starter Jose Quintana. That was it until the fifth, when Encarnacion hit a two-run shot over the wall in left field to bring the Blue Jays back to within one. It was Encarnacion's 18th homer of the year as he moved slightly ahead of last year's pace, when he had 17 on June 11, 2012.
Bautista and Encarnacion provided most of the heroics, but Bautista was quick to shift the credit after the win.
"There were plenty of situations where a lot of different guys on the team came through tonight," Bautista said. "What Wang did, and keeping them right there after he gave up the home run and five runs, it was unbelievable.
"Clutch relief pitching from [Brett] Cecil and [Casey] Janssen, Rajai got two big knocks to get on base, stole a base, a bunch of people did stuff. I don't think it was just those two situations where Edwin and I drove in the runs."