CLEVELAND -- Yangervis Solarte nearly had to leave the game in the third inning when an awkward slide into third base caused him to faceplant and left a cut inside his upper lip and cuts on his nose.But Solarte stayed in the game and made it count with an RBI
CLEVELAND -- Yangervis Solarte nearly had to leave the game in the third inning when an awkward slide into third base caused him to faceplant and left a cut inside his upper lip and cuts on his nose.
But Solarte stayed in the game and made it count with an RBI single the next inning and a decisive 11th-inning grand slam to lead the Blue Jays over the Indians, 13-11, in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader at Progressive Field.
Solarte set a career high with five hits and six RBIs on Thursday, and the grand slam was also the first of his career. The versatile infielder singled and scored in the second inning and doubled in the third before the fateful slide. Solarte was tagging up, running to third, when his hands got caught in the dirt and made him flip over, but after several minutes to recover, he was able to stay in the game.
The decision immediately paid dividends, as Solarte knocked in two runs in the fourth on a single to right field. Solarte eventually walked in the eighth -- but was stranded on third -- and singled in the 10th but was cut down trying to extend it to a double.
But Solarte once again got a chance for redemption when he came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the 11th. Ahead in a 2-0 count, Solarte barreled an 88 mph fastball right over the plate deep into the left-field bleachers.
The Blue Jays' 13 runs Thursday -- their highest offensive output in two weeks -- came from a well-rounded team effort, as every hitter except Kendrys Morales reached base. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. picked up his first career three-hit game, Russell Martin hit a two-run homer, and Curtis Granderson scored twice on three walks and a single.
Three-time All-Star Josh Donaldson impressed in his return from the 10-day disabled list (right shoulder inflammation) as he doubled twice and hit a game-tying homer in the sixth inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Axford to the rescue: Blue Jays starter Jaime Garcia was cruising until the fourth inning, when the Indians tagged him for six runs and chased him before he could record a second out. Danny Barnes was hardly more effective -- walking two and giving up two hits to just one out recorded. However, John Axford came in to face the 12th batter of the inning and promptly got Yan Gomes to ground out on the first pitch. Axford would go on to throw two more innings without allowing a baserunner to keep the Blue Jays afloat.
Donaldson's big return: Donaldson barely looked like he had missed any time the way he was playing Thursday. He knocked an RBI double in the fourth inning and went deep two innings later. Finally, Donaldson kept the 11th-inning rally alive with a double down the left-field line, which gave him his first game with three extra-base hits since Aug. 28, 2016.
Solarte was the second player in the live-ball era with at least five hits in a game, including an extra-inning grand slam. The other was Jim Rice, who did so on July 4, 1984. Solarte joins Ray Howell as the only Blue Jays player to have five hits and six RBIs in a game.
PEARCE RETURNS, THEN AGGRAVATES INJURY
Steve Pearce returned to the lineup Thursday after sitting out the last two games with left oblique tightness and picked up a single in his first at-bat, but his night ended shortly after that. Pearce grounded out and struck out in his next two at-bats and was replaced defensively at first base before the bottom of the fifth inning by Aledmys Diaz, who shifted to shortstop. After the game, Pearce was placed on the 10-day DL with the same oblique injury.
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com.