TORONTO – The long ball was the Toronto Blue Jays’ main weapon in their home-opener win over Detroit. The small-ball approach worked wonders in Wednesday’s rematch.
George Springer drove in Danny Jansen with the winning run in the 10th inning to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 4-3 walkoff win over the Tigers at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays (8-4) tied the game in the ninth inning with a pair of sacrifice flies before securing their first walkoff victory of the season.
“It’s cool to hit a homer but to manufacture runs in a lot of other ways – walks, hits, a bunt tonight – is huge for us,” Springer said. “This is a hard league. The more you’re able to do, the better.”
With Jansen on second base as the automatic runner, Kevin Kiermaier moved him to third with a bunt. Right-hander Jose Cisnero came on and Springer drove his first pitch up the middle to end the game.
Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano (2-0) worked the top half of the inning as Toronto won for the seventh time in eight games.
“They’re supporting one another,” said Toronto manager John Schneider. “It started early in spring training and we’ve kind of been through it the first two weeks. These guys are hungry to do it.
“They don’t care who the hero is every night. It’s been really cool to watch.”
Toronto blasted five homers in a 9-3 win over the Tigers on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. It looked like Detroit was on its way to victory a night later when reliever Trey Wingenter entered with a two-run lead in the ninth.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled, Matt Chapman walked and Daulton Varsho was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out.
“They trust me to close the thing out and I kind of let the boys down,” Wingenter said. “That was on me.”
Left-hander Chasen Shreve (0-1) came on to face Whit Merrifield, who drove in Guerrero with a sacrifice fly. Chapman tied the game when he came home on pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk’s flyout.
“There’s a lot of guys who really enjoy getting dirty and being in those big situations,” said Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman, who struck out 11 over eight innings.
“They kind of feed off of that. It seems like George is right in the middle of it always. That guy is about as clutch as anybody.”
Nick Maton and Kerry Carpenter hit homers for Detroit. Maton went deep in the fourth inning and Carpenter hit a two-run shot in the seventh.
Detroit (2-9) has dropped six games in a row.
Gausman had 11 strikeouts and allowed three earned runs and five hits.
“I can’t say enough about Kevin tonight,” Schneider said. “He was nasty.”
Chapman, who’s hitting a whopping .489 this season, doubled and singled for the Blue Jays. Toronto outhit Detroit 9-6.
Detroit starter Eduardo Rodriguez allowed seven hits and one earned run over six innings. He had three strikeouts and walked a batter.
Gausman retired the first 10 hitters he faced before Maton took a 1-1 pitch over the wall in straight-away centre field. It was his second homer of the season.
Toronto pulled even in the fourth inning on an unusual play.
With runners on first and second, Merrifield hit a grounder that Guerrero had to jump over on his way to third base. Javier Baez corralled the ball just outside the infield and threw home, leaving Guerrero in no man’s land.
Catcher Eric Haase applied the tag but umpire Erich Bacchus ruled that third baseman Ryan Kreidler made contact with Guerrero as he rounded third. The obstruction call gave Toronto the extra base to tie the game.
Chapman, the reigning American League player of the week, hit a two-out single in the sixth inning. He tried to go to third base on a single by Varsho but was thrown out by Carpenter in left field.
Left-hander Tim Mayza worked the ninth inning for Toronto.
Guerrero made a nice play at first base to keep the game tied in the 10th. He fully stretched to catch a wide, hurried throw from Bo Bichette on a slow roller.
Announced attendance was 35,300 and the game took two hours 40 minutes to play.
HALL OF FAMER
Legendary pitcher Pedro Martinez threw the ceremonial first pitch of the game to Guerrero.
Martinez, sporting an Expos jersey with his No. 45, played with Guerrero’s father during their time in Montreal in the mid-1990s.
The right-hander won five earned-run average titles over his career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2015.