Jays hit three homers in comeback win
Offense lights up Twins pitching for 17 hits
TORONTO -- David Purcey made sure to mention the Blue Jays' offense in his first comments after a forgettable evening on the mound on Tuesday. The rookie starter owed a lot to his hitters on this night.
The Blue Jays' bats -- the same ones that came up empty during a wasted gem from Purcey his previous time on the hill -- provided three home runs that paved the way for a 7-5 comeback victory over the Twins at Rogers Centre. Purcey struggled mightily with his command, but his offense bailed him out.
"I was just consistently falling behind in counts," Purcey said. "I was trying to nibble too much at the corners of the plate instead of just going right after hitters like I have been doing. The offense did a great job of picking me up today."
As did Toronto's bullpen, which took over for Purcey -- charged with five runs in three innings -- during the fourth and blanked Minnesota for the final five frames. That created a window of opportunity for the Blue Jays' lineup to start chipping away at the 5-1 lead that the Twins carried into the fifth. That didn't turn out to be much of an issue.
In the home half of the fifth, Twins started Glen Perkins issued a leadoff walk to Marco Scutaro, who had the luxury of jogging around the bases a few minutes later. Following the walk, Toronto's Jose Bautista drilled a 2-2 pitch from Perkins deep to left field, where the ball bounced off some cement stairs and landed back on the field.
Four pitches later, Alex Rios crushed a 1-2 offering -- also to left field. This time around, the ball came crashing down just below the glove of a fan, leaning over the railing of the second deck in a desperate attempt to grab the souvenir. Those consecutive blasts -- Toronto's second such occurrence of the year -- cut the Twins' lead to 5-4.
The Jays (71-66) completed the comeback in the sixth inning, which began with another leadoff walk -- drawn by Scott Rolen. Next to the plate was Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay, who deposited a pitch from reliever Boof Bonser over the wall in right field for a two-run homer that put the Jays ahead, 6-5.
"That's nice, huh?" said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, referring to the three home runs. "The guys swung the bats tonight. It was a good comeback for us and once again a team effort from just about everybody. I know that Purcey had a rough time tonight.
"He just didn't have command of his pitches and got up in the pitch count and just continued to struggle out there. He was a completely different guy from the last time."
The last time was on Aug. 27, and Purcey overpowered the Rays during that outing. The 6-foot-5 lefty needed just 92 pitches -- only 22 balls -- to spin an eight-inning complete game on the road against Tampa Bay. The problem on that night, when Purcey used pinpoint control to compile 11 strikeouts and no walks, was the lone run he allowed did him in. The Jays bats came up with no runs to support what was one of the best outings of the season by any of the club's pitchers.
Fortunately for Purcey, he was able to escape with a no-decision against the Twins (77-61), despite his command woes. He threw 86 pitches (47 strikes) and registered first-pitch strikes to just eight of the 21 hitters he faced.
Shortly after the outing, Purcey retreated to the film room, where he quickly identified the problem.
"I dropped my arm slot a little bit," Purcey said. "I went back to check the film on that and I was slinging the ball up there a little bit, instead of driving it to the plate like I have been. That's why I was falling behind in the counts.
"It was hit and miss. Occasionally, I'd get my arm right up to where I wanted it to be and then I'd go right back to slinging it. I was trying to be too fine, trying to hit the corners instead of just going right after them."
No harm done.
Purcey can chalk it up to another learning experience in his up-and-down rookie campaign. The Jays can take it as a sign that their offense continues to show signs of life as the season wears on. Bautista and Rios led the 17-hit attack with four hits apiece and Toronto wound up with its 14th come-from-behind win since Gaston took over on June 20.
The Jays are hoping it's an indication of a strong September, even if a postseason berth isn't on the horizon.
"We need to [finish strong]," Overbay said. "These guys are in front of us. We're playing a lot of teams that are in front of us, so it's something where we can spoil their hopes to. It's just one of those things where we've got to find something to get us going."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.