TORONTO – Danny Jansen, the ninth hitter in the Toronto Blue Jays lineup, has turned into a late-game RBI machine.
Jansen belted a three-run homer in the seventh to spirit the Blue Jays comeback on Monday and completed the deal with a walk-off single to left field in the 11th inning to end Toronto’s three-game losing streak with a 5-4 come-from-behind win against the Chicago Cubs.
The Blue Jays (69-58) won for only the third time in their last 10 home games, this time before 26,473 fans at Rogers Centre. They were swept by the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game weekend set.
“It was a tough weekend, but we turned the page with a new series,” Jansen said.
“On any given night, I’m just trying to go out there and compete and do what I can to help the team win. Tonight, it happened a homer and a walk-off.”
Last Thursday, Jansen smacked a sixth-inning solo shot that put the Blue Jays ahead 5-4 in Boston, a game they eventually won 6-5 in 10 innings.
“He’s streaky like us,” interim Toronto manager John Schneider said of his catcher.
“We love what he does behind the plate. He’s a leader with the pitching staff, and if he gets hits like that, it’s a bonus.”
Down 4-0, the Blue Jays’ comeback began in the seventh inning when Jansen smacked a three-run homer to left field for his 11th of the season.
They tied the game an inning later. Cavan Biggio belted a double down the right-field line and scored on Matt Chapman’s single to left.
The Cubs (55-74) grabbed an early 2-0 lead with runs in the third and fourth inning. Catcher Wilson Contreras knocked in Alfonso Rivas with a fielder’s choice groundout in the third, and Seiya Suzuki scored on Nico Hoerner’s single to left in the fourth.
P.J. Higgins’ pinch-hit double to the gap in left centre scored another two runs in the sixth inning.
The Blue Jays exhibited better defence than their weekend series against the Angels.
Centre-fielder George Springer made a diving catch in the fourth inning off Rafael Ortega. Right-fielder Ramiel Tapia threw out Franmil Reyes as he tried to go from first to third on a single in the fifth inning.
Also, in the fifth, after Ian Happ struck out but forced a throw to first after the ball hit the dirt, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. returned a throw to Jansen to get Nick Madrigal racing in from third.
Toronto starter Jose Berrios, who pushed for the Blue Jays to wear their red jerseys for this game, lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits with four strikeouts and a walk.
Reliever Tim Mayza gave up the double to Higgins, but Berrios was responsible for the two runners who scored.
Cubs 25-year-old starter Javier Assad pitched five shutout innings, surrendering four hits with two walks and a strikeout in his second career start.
Blue Jays reliever Jimi Garcia (3-4) snatched the win, while Mark Leiter Jr. (2-6) took the loss.
The last time Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins held a media briefing before a home game was when he fired manager Charlie Montoyo and replaced him with Schneider on July 13.
Toronto has gone 23-16 under Schneider.
Atkins remains confident with vital games next month against two teams the Blue Jays are battling for one of the three American League wild-card spots. Toronto has nine games left against the Tampa Bay Rays and 10 more against the Baltimore Orioles.
“We’re coming up to September with our destiny in our control with games against teams we’re competing with,” Atkins said.
On Monday, the Blue Jays also plucked outfielder Bradley Zimmer off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies. He will be one of the two September call-ups allowed on Thursday.
Cubs starter Marcus Stroman (3-6) returns to Toronto for the first time since the Blue Jays traded him on July 28, 2019. The 31-year-old righty will face Kevin Gausman (9-9) on Tuesday.
“I can’t wait to go out there and take it all in,” said Stroman, adding he has nothing but fondness for the Blue Jays and the city of Toronto.
“I’m thankful, and I feel I’m part Canadian in my blood.”