TORONTO -- It wasn't the most ideal circumstance, but Jason Grilli picked up his first save as a Blue Jay in dramatic fashion as Toronto edged the Orioles, 10-9, on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.With closer Roberto Osuna receiving the weekend off after a heavy workload leading up to this
TORONTO -- It wasn't the most ideal circumstance, but Jason Grilli picked up his first save as a Blue Jay in dramatic fashion as Toronto edged the Orioles, 10-9, on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
With closer Roberto Osuna receiving the weekend off after a heavy workload leading up to this series, it was Grilli who got the ball in a high-leverage situation for the third time in four days.
With the Blue Jays leading, 10-8, in the ninth, the former All-Star closer loaded the bases with one out before giving up a long fly ball to former teammate Pedro Alvarez, which Ezequiel Carrera made a great leaping grab on to limit it to a sacrifice fly. Grilli then struck out Jonathan Schoop to close the game, and showed off his patented energetic celebration as he earned his first save in Toronto blue.
"He made a hell of a catch," Grilli said about Carrera's play. "I owe him a steak dinner now. That's the beauty of winning -- when things get rolling and you're feeling it out. I'm still feeling the guys out, but it's a feeling that they have my back, I've got theirs and we're all playing for one another.
"I've known Pedro from playing with him and I know he's got a lot of pop, I just didn't want to give in to him. Whether the wind knocked it down or he didn't get it off the good part of the bat, it worked in my favor."
Since coming to Toronto in a trade with the Braves, Grilli has looked more like the dominant presence he was at the back end of Pittsburgh's bullpen from 2011-14, as he came into Sunday's outing with a scoreless streak of 10 appearances. Although that run came to an end, Grilli's 1.93 ERA and eight strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings since the trade have earned him the setup role to Osuna -- as well as the trust of both his manager and teammates.
"It got a little tight," manager John Gibbons said about the ninth inning. "Our new big acquisition came through. He's got a lot of guts."
While Grilli isn't expected to carry the load at the back end of the bullpen like he did with the Pirates, the veteran reliever has provided an additional option for Gibbons on days when Osuna may not be able to go and has shown the ability in the past to get big strikeouts when needed. With heavy-hitting competition in the American League East, Grilli looks forward to embracing that challenge alongside his new teammates.
"That's the biggest thing you can take out of a game like today," Grilli said. "This is a totally different division than I've seen before, but never played in. It's like a heavyweight boxing match every night. No big lead is big enough from the sound of it -- or from the looks of it -- so you've just got to keep going and give it your all."
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.