TORONTO -- Kendrys Morales put an end to Toronto's seven-game losing streak with one dramatic swing of the bat.
Morales hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to send the Blue Jays to a 2-1 victory over the Orioles on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Morales' second of the year came on the first pitch he saw from Orioles reliever Tyler Wilson and gave Toronto its first walk-off victory of the season. The shot to right-center field came just a few minutes after Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna blew his first save of the year.
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"He just hung a curveball and I put the barrel on the ball," Morales said through an interpreter after the game. "We're struggling. We have to start somewhere so hopefully this win is going to take us further to more wins."
The Blue Jays never would have been in a position to steal the game late without the efforts of right-hander Marco Estrada. The 33-year-old veteran was forced to settle for a no-decision but he single-handedly kept Toronto in this one by scattering four hits and three walks over seven scoreless innings. He struck out eight and threw 69 of his 109 pitches for strikes while putting Toronto in a position to win even as its offensive struggles continued. More >
Baltimore right-hander Alec Asher deserved a better fate in his first appearance of the season. He pitched out of some trouble in the first inning and then faced the minimum until the seventh inning when he allowed two of the first three baserunners to reach base. Lefty Donnie Hart entered and then got Justin Smoak to fly out before Darwin Barney came through with the pinch-hit single up the middle that allowed Jose Bautista to score from second after catcher Welington Castillo could not hang on to the throw from Adam Jones in center.
"When he's got all those pitches working for him ... it's kind of like Wade [Miley] last night," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "That was fun to watch. You'd like to cap him, but he wouldn't let us cap him, but the innings got him more than anything.
"We like him, we'd like to keep him around." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Manufacturing runs: The Orioles went scoreless for the first eight innings of this game but they made it look easy in the ninth. The rally started with a lucky break as Castillo hit a broken bat single that bounced off Osuna for an infield hit. Pinch runner Craig Gentry then stole second base and advanced to third on a deep fly ball to left field. Jonathan Schoop then drove home the tying run with a sacrifice fly to center field that extended the game to the bottom of the inning when Morales came through with the walk-off homer.
"You're definitely a little bit on edge, but really you're thinking, 'Hey this could turn,'" Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of his reaction to the blown save and the club's extended losing streak. "Sooner or later we have to pull one out. We have to get a win here. We're overdue for that. We're fully capable. So really you just hang onto that feeling in a one-run game."
Costly miscue: Toronto had a pair of runners on base in the bottom of the seventh inning when Smoak hit a deep fly ball to right field. Bautista appeared to believe the ball would go over the head of Jones in center field because he was almost at third base when the ball was caught. Jones turned and fired a strike to cut-off man Schoop, who appeared to have a play at second base but did not realize it. Schoop turned to look at first base instead and Bautista was allowed to slide back in safely without a throw. Instead of an inning-ending double play, the frame continued and Barney made Baltimore pay with an RBI single to center.
"I think [Schoop] was getting ready to throw to first and didn't really get a good look at the guy at second," said Showalter. "I'm not sure if we would've had a play anyway."
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SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Morales has hit four walk-off homers in his career and all of them have come for different teams: The Angels, Mariners, Royals and Blue Jays.
Orioles:Dylan Bundy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) eyes his second victory of the season when he takes the ball in the series finale against the Blue Jays on Sunday at 1:07 p.m. ET. The right-hander is coming off of his highest workload in the Majors -- a 106-pitch loss against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.
Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (0-2, 5.40 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out the series on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Happ is coming off an outing in which he allowed four runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings vs the Brewers. He has allowed a pair of home runs during each of his first two starts this season.
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