Jays use late-game comeback to win
Offense scores four runs in final two innings to sweep Orioles
TORONTO -- Adam Lind didn't receive the traditional helmet slaps that tend to go along with a walk-off hit on Thursday night. The young Blue Jays outfielder actually made sure he was a safe distance from the celebration that was going on around home plate in the ninth inning.
"I was kind of running away from it," Lind said with a laugh. "It was fun."
Lind may not have any celebratory bruises from his teammates to remind him of his heroics, but Toronto's 6-5 victory over Baltimore won't be a game he's likely to forget any time soon. After all, it was Lind's sharply pulled grounder that skipped under the glove of a diving Aubrey Huff at first base to seal the win.
The RBI single -- the first game-winning hit of Lind's young career -- also wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Orioles for the Blue Jays (45-47). After going 0-7 in game's decided in walk-off fashion to open the season, Toronto notched two such wins in the series against Baltimore.
The late rally included four runs over the final two frames for the Jays, helping left-hander John Parrish avoid a hard-luck loss after logging seven solid innings. The comeback also represented the first time in 36 tries that Toronto picked up a win after trailing after seven innings this year.
"Man, that's nice," said Cito Gaston, who is now 10-8 since taking over as Toronto's manager on June 20. "That's a good start for us. Hopefully, we can keep going and keep doing things like that. That was a big comeback for us tonight."
It was a well-timed rally, too, considering the New York Yankees are due in town Friday to open a three-game weekend set -- Toronto's final series before the All-Star break. For what it's worth, the win moved the Blue Jays .001 points ahead of Baltimore (44-46) for fourth place in the American League East standings.
Toronto's rally had its roots in the fourth inning, when the Orioles held a 3-0 lead after taking advantage of early control issues from Parrish, who allowed five extra-base hits in the no-decision. The Jays, who struggled to solve O's right-hander Jeremy Guthrie in his seven innings, plated an unearned run in the fourth on a groundout from Alex Rios.
That was the first of four run-scoring groundouts in the game for Toronto, which has labored for productive outs all season. David Eckstein used grounders to drive in two runs -- once in the sixth inning and again in a two-run eighth. Eckstein's second chopper helped overcome the two runs Baltimore notched against the Jays' bullpen in the top half of the frame, cutting the Orioles' lead to 5-4.
"In the past," Gaston said, "it's been a strikeout or a popup and then a ground ball for a double play. At least tonight we got the ground balls and got the run in every time we hit one. That's a plus -- a big plus. Just put it in play."
Making solid contact and putting the ball in play was all Lind had in mind when he strolled to the plate with the game on the line in the ninth.
Clinging to a one-run lead, Baltimore turned to left-handed closer George Sherrill -- a veteran of 27 saves already this season. After striking out Marco Scutaro to open the final frame, Sherrill yielded a single and a double to Rod Barajas and Scott Rolen, respectively.
After Sherrill intentionally walked Gregg Zaun to load the bases, setting up a potential game-ending double play, Lyle Overbay came through with a sacrifice fly to knot the score at 5. Earlier in the season, the left-handed Lind might have been called back to the bench, but Gaston stuck with the left fielder.
The decision paid off when Lind ripped a curveball from Sherrill into right field, causing Rogers Centre crowd to erupt and sending the Blue Jays bolting from their dugout to mob Rolen as he crossed home plate.
"Early maybe, if a lefty would've been pitching, I probably would've been pinch-hit for," Lind said. "But the ball went through, so Cito looks great. Everybody looks good because we won.
"I never had an experience like that before, so it felt pretty good."
The win also served as a bit of good news on a day that the Jays received plenty of bad. Prior to the game, Toronto learned that center fielder Vernon Wells would miss four to six weeks with a strained left hamstring -- this after losing pitcher Dustin McGowan for at least a month with a torn rotator cuff a day earlier.
It's two more blows to a Toronto club that's already lost a handful of other players to various injuries this season. But it's just another situation that the Blue Jays will be forced to battle through as well as they can.
"Vernon or not, we're going to have to win either way," Overbay said. "We're going to miss him, obviously, but we've got to plug along and I think we can do it. Hopefully, when he gets back, he'll be full stride and we'll be right where we need to be."
That would be higher in the standings, and that begins with the Yankees on Friday.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.