TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are suddenly riding a wave of momentum after their second walk-off win in under 24 hours sealed a four-game sweep over the Athletics on Thursday afternoon. Steve Pearce was the hero, crushing a grand slam to left in the bottom of the 10th for an
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are suddenly riding a wave of momentum after their second walk-off win in under 24 hours sealed a four-game sweep over the Athletics on Thursday afternoon. Steve Pearce was the hero, crushing a grand slam to left in the bottom of the 10th for an 8-4 win at Rogers Centre.
"We rallied behind everybody," Pearce said. "Our bullpen came in and did a great job, and we found a way to get it done. It was just a great day."
Kendrys Morales added two home runs of his own and Josh Donaldson went yard, all part of a tension-filled afternoon that saw Blue Jays' starter Marcus Stroman ejected in the fifth inning.
Pearce's game-ending homer came opposite former Blue Jays reliever Liam Hendriks, who was tasked with facing the top of Toronto's order. The right-hander walked the bases loaded with two outs, bringing Pearce to the plate.
"Just trying to get ahead, and then I was going to throw sliders away," Hendriks said. "He's struggled with that in the past, and then obviously I overthrew a couple fastballs, he took a couple good sliders, and I just left a fastball in. If I get that ball away, it's a popup or who knows what happens. But it's probably not that outcome."
Stroman struggled with control through his 4 2/3 innings, setting a career high with six walks before being tossed by home plate umpire Will Little for arguing balls and strikes. The right-hander's two-seam fastball was sitting slightly below its average velocity and drifted over the plate at times, but Stroman did manage to limit the damage by forcing plenty of ground-ball contact.
Blue Jays' catcher Russell Martin was ejected on the same pitch as Stroman, and manager John Gibbons had already been tossed just two pitches prior. Stroman, visibly upset with the ejections, had to be restrained at home plate by teammates and bench coach DeMarlo Hale.
"I'm an emotional guy," Stroman said after the game. "I'm going to continue to be myself, regardless of who doesn't like it, who likes it. I'm always going to be myself regardless, here on out. I'm emotional, that's how I pitch. That's what I pride myself on. That's what allows me to be my best out there."
Sean Manaea gave the Athletics seven strong innings, and outside of two solo home runs allowed to Donaldson and Morales, he held Toronto's lineup under control. The left-hander kept the Blue Jays off balance without straying from the strike zone as he struck out seven and didn't issue a walk.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Morales does it again: Building on his walk-off heroics from Wednesday night, Morales kept the Blue Jays alive in the bottom of the ninth with a game-tying shot to center off right-hander Blake Treinen. The home run, Morales' second of the game and second to deep center field, was measured by Statcast™ at 427 feet.
"He's been around forever, and he's obviously a clutch hitter," Treinen said. "He swung through the exact same pitch the first pitch of the at-bat. I wasn't trying to go in, I was trying to go down and away, and I missed more in, and that's where he beat us the night before, and tonight. It's frustrating in the sense that you go out there and feel like you throw well but you walk away with giving up the lead and the team ends up not walking away with the win."
Joyce shows off his arm: Troy Tulowitzki ripped a ground-rule double into the left-field corner on a 1-2 pitch from Manaea in the bottom of the seventh, and almost gave the Blue Jays the lead later in the inning when trying to score on a Darwin Barney single to right field. Matt Joyce delivered the accurate throw from right to Bruce Maxwell, who applied the tag to end the inning and keep the game tied.
"I want to make my next start." -- Marcus Stroman, declining to comment on umpiring
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The win represents the first time in franchise history that the Blue Jays have hit walk-off home runs in back-to-back games.
A's: The A's will return to Oakland for a five-game homestand, beginning with three against the Twins. Rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett, who picked up the win in his last start after holding the Mets to two runs in six innings, will be on the mound for Friday's 7:05 p.m. PT series opener.
Blue Jays: J.A. Happ (3-7, 4.13 ERA) will open the Blue Jays' series at home against the Angels on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET. The left-hander is coming off his toughest outing of the season against Cleveland, where he allowed seven runs on nine hits and three walks over six innings of work.
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Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.