TORONTO -- Luke Maile completed the walk-off hat trick on Saturday afternoon, and this time, all he had to do was stand there.Maile drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning to lead the Blue Jays to a 4-3 victory over the Orioles
TORONTO -- Luke Maile completed the walk-off hat trick on Saturday afternoon, and this time, all he had to do was stand there.
Maile drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning to lead the Blue Jays to a 4-3 victory over the Orioles at Rogers Centre. It was the third walkoff for Maile this season, and Toronto improved to 7-1 in extra-inning games this season.
Prior to this year, Maile had never been involved in a walk-off during his big league career, and now he's averaging one per month. Maile hit a walk-off single vs. Kansas City on April 17, a 12th-inning home run against the Red Sox on May 11 and Saturday's walk vs. Baltimore.
"They're all happening at once, so anything I've walked-off, you guys have seen," Maile said while laughing after the game. "It's a win, I know that much ... It feels good when you really square one up to get a win, but if he doesn't throw a strike, there's nothing you can do."
Maile drew the four-pitch walk off Baltimore reliever Mychal Givens. Toronto's rally in the 10th started with a walk to Justin Smoak and was then followed by a single from Kendrys Morales. Randal Grichuk was responsible for loading the bases after he was hit by a pitch to set the table for Maile's final plate appearance.
The Blue Jays picked up their fifth walk-off victory of the year, and they have now won three consecutive games for the first time since April 29-May 1. The wins followed arguably the lowest point of the year, a 3-6 road trip through Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit, before dropping the first two games of this homestand to the Yankees.
"Tremendous, I think that's the word for it," Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez said of the last three days. "We needed it big time. I thought we played well against New York too, though. … We've been playing good baseball since the end of last week. To finally scratch out some wins and get in that column, it's good for us. It keeps guys a little bit loose in here and you don't play as tight. It's nice to have. Hopefully we continue to put some wins on the board and get things turned around here."
Sanchez came away with the no-decision despite registering Toronto's sixth consecutive quality start. Sanchez scattered six hits and four walks before departing with one out in the seventh with the tying run on third base. Reliever Danny Barnes allowed that runner to score on an RBI single, and as a result, Sanchez could not pick up back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
Sanchez has now tossed at least six innings in back-to-back starts for the first time since late April, and he's allowed a total of one run on six hits and six walks over his last 13 innings. His 4.11 ERA is the lowest it has been since April 30, and after going a month without tossing more than five innings, his workload is starting to increase as well.
"I thought it was a really good outing," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We've been talking the last couple of days … about how good the rotation is, and it continued today. [Outings like this give the team] a chance. He should feel really good about that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Diaz to the rescue: With the score tied at 3 in the top of the ninth, Baltimore was threatening with runners on second and third and one out. Craig Gentry hit a chopper to shortstop Aledmys Diaz against a drawn-in Blue Jays infield. Diaz had plenty of time to make the play, and his throw to Maile was a strike to get the sliding Adam Jones at home. Right-hander John Axford then got Jonathan Schoop to ground out to second as Toronto escaped the frame with the score still tied.
Grichuk grinding away: Grichuk hit a go-ahead solo home run in the bottom of the seventh to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead. Toronto's right fielder has seven hits over his last five games, and six of them have gone for extra bases -- three homers and three doubles. The results provide reassurance that Grichuk was correct to make his batting stance a little bit more upright in an attempt to improve his reaction time to opposing pitchers. Without Grichuk's blast, there is a chance the game never heads to extra innings.
"When we acquired him, everybody liked him, and he's had some success in the big leagues," Gibbons said. "He just got off to one of those starts. Who knows why? But he has a ton of power, very athletic, really good defender, good baserunner, all that stuff. Sometimes it takes a while to settle in. That's just the way it goes."
Blue Jays starters have allowed one earned run or fewer during each of the last six games. The most recent occurence for the club was Sept. 21-28, when it had seven straight quality starts. Opposing teams are batting just .170 (23-for-135) against Toronto's rotation over the latest span, which has lead to a 3-3 record over that stretch despite averaging four runs per game.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Kevin Pillar was up to his old tricks with another Superman-like catch in the top of the seventh inning. Baltimore's Mark Trumbo led off the frame with a fly ball to right-center field that Pillar sprawled out to make a diving play on. According to Statcast™, Pillar had a 48 percent catch probability on the play, and he made three-star grab by traveling 73 feet in 4.3 seconds. The play earned a tip of the cap from Sanchez on the mound.
The Blue Jays will wrap up their four-game series looking for a sweep against the Orioles at Rogers Centre. Right-hander Marco Estrada takes (2-6, 5.29) the mound on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1:07 p.m. ET. Estrada is coming off arguably his best start of the season after he took a scoreless outing into the seventh vs. the Yankees. Josh Donaldson is questionable for the game with a sore left calf muscle, but he appears likely to return Monday night against Tampa Bay. Baltimore will counter with right-hander Alex Cobb (2-7, 6.19) in the finale.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.