Not all wins are created equal, but they all look the same in the standings. The Blue Jays turned a blowout into a nail-biter on Sunday, but manager Charlie Montoyo is happy to collect a "W" any way he can.
“Yeah, a win’s a win. Believe me,” Montoyo said after Toronto survived in 10-8 fashion to earn a series win over the Phillies. “You have no idea how many games I’ve seen like this, and usually it goes the other way.”
Everything was going Toronto's way early on, as it battered former Blue Jays pitcher Chase Anderson and came away from the third inning with an 8-0 lead. Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette opened the first inning with back-to-back solo shots, and the hit parade was on. Toronto went 11-for-19 (.579) with five doubles, a triple and those two homers in the first three frames to take a commanding advantage.
“But it’s still a long game,” Semien said. “So they came back, battled back.”
Toronto starter Robbie Ray notched nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings -- bringing his punchout total up to 28 over the past three starts -- but he also served up a trio of homers over the course of the fifth and sixth innings. That gave the Phillies some life.
A lot has been asked of the Blue Jays’ relief corps so far this season, and they’ve typically answered the call, as they currently rank third in innings pitched (163) and fourth in ERA (3.15). But Tim Mayza, Jordan Romano and Jeremy Beasley combined to cough up four runs over the final two innings, which made things a little too interesting.
Romano, pitching on consecutive days for just the second time this season, walked leadoff man Jean Segura in the ninth and, in the eyes of Montoyo, looked uncomfortable on the mound, because he was bending his throwing arm between pitches. Montoyo and a training staff member checked on Romano, who stayed in and recorded two consecutive outs before he was pulled for pitch count purposes (Romano was up to 21 pitches, after throwing 22 on Saturday).
That made way for Beasley, who promptly allowed an RBI single, a walk and another RBI single. Down two, the Phillies had suddenly brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of early MVP candidate Bryce Harper.
But, Harper has been dealing with right shoulder soreness, which forced him out of Saturday’s game and kept him out of the starting lineup Sunday. He entered as a defensive replacement in the sixth, but he’d neglected to swing in his first at-bat (instead, he attempted to bunt and popped out).
“We weren’t sure what he was going to do,” Montoyo said of Harper, who did his best to swing away in the ninth. “But the moment he took that first swing, I said, ‘Oh, yeah. He’s fine.’ Of course, the situation got even more stressful.”
Beasley, with only 1 2/3 innings of MLB experience entering the day, shoved a full-count fastball through the heart of the plate -- and more importantly, past Harper’s bat -- to put an end to the adrenaline-inducing ninth.
Credit Beasley for working out of a tough spot, and credit the Blue Jays’ offense for tacking on a bit of insurance that proved necessary: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s eighth-inning homer, which marked his third consecutive game with a home run for the first time in his career, was invaluable as the final frame played out.
The Blue Jays (22-17) are now five games above .500 for the first time this season. It doesn’t really matter how.
“For us to win this game, and the way we did it -- getting Harper out with the game on the line -- a win’s a win,” Montoyo said.