MINNEAPOLIS -- With the score tied and the potential winning run on second base with two outs in the ninth inning on Thursday night, before his single in the 11th gave the Blue Jays a 3-2 win, Troy Tulowitzki crushed a two-strike pitch from Twins closer Kevin Jepsen that he thought was certain to drop in for a hit.
The ball sailed deep into the gap in left-center before dying in the glove of center fielder Danny Santana, who used his speed to get under the ball and snatch it out of midair.
• Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Tulo and other #ASGWorthy players
Jepsen raised his arms and Tulowitzki, 0-for-4 to that point and with his batting average approaching .190, was left disappointed again.
"When you hit a 410-foot ball, usually it leaves the park," Tulowitzki said. "In that situation, there's a guy at second base, you're thinking they want to play somewhat in so if there's a base hit, they have a chance to throw the guy out. That wasn't the case there. [Santana] was playing pretty far back, good enough to where a line drive, he can go back there and catch it. So, yeah, I was surprised that it was caught.
"It happens. It [stinks], don't get me wrong, it's not like I wasn't upset about that. That's the way it was going."
Tulowitzki made sure a second chance to win the game wouldn't go by the wayside. Two innings later, with the potential winning run on second once again, the five-time All-Star came through, dumping a single over the glove of second baseman Brian Dozier and scoring pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera with the eventual winning run.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Blue Jays, who won for the first time since a 5-0 victory over the Rangers last Friday.
"There's no doubt, it was a big win," Tulowitzki said. "We didn't play good at home against the Rays and we were on a five-game losing streak. You want to end those as soon as possible. I think the mood was better in the locker room today, and we came out and got a much-needed win."
Tulowitzki started to get his season going last weekend, recording six hits in three games against Texas and getting his average back to .200. He went 1-for-9 in a three-game sweep by Tampa Bay, a series in which Toronto scored just seven runs total, even though the quality of his at-bats was still there.
Tough luck aside on Thursday, Tulowitzki was able to come through for his teammates when it mattered against the Twins.
"I feel good out there, I feel more like myself," he said. "I've hit a lot of barrels this last week, and hopefully, I can continue that."
In yet another hopeful sign, Thursday's winning hit came off left-hander Fernando Abad. Tulowitzki has feasted on lefties during his career but was off to a bad start against them in 2016; he entered the at-bat 4-for-35 against southpaws.
"We talked about the track record," said bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who was managing in place of the suspended John Gibbons. "It's going to come. I believe in the track record, I believe in what these players have done over their careers. I'm not surprised."