Lind lifts Jays with walk-off homer
DH's homer was second of game, 32nd of season
TORONTO -- Adam Lind pushed off third base and saw a grinning mob of his Blue Jays teammates waiting for him as he sprinted toward home plate. Toronto's designated hitter remembered what happened the last time he delivered a walk-off hit, and Lind did not want to make the same mistake twice.
"I left my helmet on and I had a headache the rest of the day," Lind said. "I decided I'd take the helmet off."
So, after launching a game-winning home run that lifted Toronto to a 5-4 victory over Seattle in 10 innings on Saturday, Lind used both hands to send his helmet flying into the crowd of players in front of him. Lind disappeared into the group of jumping Jays and absorbed a welcome beating to celebrate his latest heroics.
When it ended, Lind's strategy did not necessarily pay off.
"Now, I have a broken rib," he joked.
Lind's leadoff blast against Mariners reliever Shawn Kelley -- created by using a smooth left-handed swing to slice a fastball just over the wall in left field -- was the second long ball of the game for the young DH. Lind also delivered a two-run homer in the eighth inning that pulled the contest into a tie at 4.
The pair of shots gave the 26-year-old Lind 32 homers in this breakout season of his and the three runs he drove home upped his season total to 109 in that category. Lind's 3-for-4 showing on the afternoon improved his average to .301 and he padded his numbers further with a walk and the two runs scored.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has reached a point where he is running out of superlatives to describe how far Lind has come over the past year.
"This kid is a good hitter," Gaston said. "He's a good student. He's also very coachable. He listens and he takes it out there and he puts it into play. That's what I say about him. You wish you had 25 players like that."
Lind and second baseman Aaron Hill have been the brightest spots within a rough season for the Blue Jays (71-84).
Combined, Lind and Hill have collected 212 RBIs, representing the best mark for a set of Toronto teammates since 2003. Hill has a slight edge over Lind with a team-leading 34 home runs, and the Blue Jays DH answers quickly when asked who should be considered the club's Most Valuable Player this year.
"Aaron," Lind replied.
As far as Gaston is concerned, the pair should be considered the co-MVPs of the club.
"When you talk about Most Valuable Player, you've got to talk about both of those kids," Gaston said. "For me, they've both been very valuable on this team. I'd almost have to say you'd have to give it to both of them."
In the eighth inning, it was Hill who came through with a leadoff double off Seattle reliever Mark Lowe to set up Lind's first home run of the day. Two pitches later, Lind lofted a 97-mph fastball from Lowe to left field for the game-tying shot. That took Toronto left-hander David Purcey off the hook for a loss after he turned in a decent outing.
Purcey was charged with three runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Mariners (80-75), who ran to a 3-0 lead through five innings. Mike Sweeney used a single to drive home a run for Seattle in the fourth. An inning later, Adam Moore contributed a run-scoring single and later crossed the plate on a wild pitch from Purcey.
Along the way, Purcey was helped by some spectacular defense.
Left fielder Travis Snider robbed Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki -- ejected in the fifth for arguing a called third strike -- of a base hit with a slick sliding catch in the third inning. One frame earlier, right fielder Jose Bautista made an oustanding grab to steal a would-be extra-base hit from Mariners third baseman Jack Hannahan.
Running straight toward the fence, Bautista made an over-the-shoulder catch before slamming hard into the wall, appearing a bit shaken as he received a standing ovation.
"I hit a couple of body parts. Let's just leave it at that," Bautista said with a laugh. "I was a little closer than what I thought."
Gaston was left in awe.
"I'll tell you what, I haven't seen too many of those," the manager said. "No more than Willie Mays."
A fourth run for Seattle -- added against Jays reliever Casey Janssen in the seventh -- put Mariners right-hander Ian Snell in line for the victory after he limited the Jays to two runs (one earned) over 6 2/3 innings. Snell's chance at a win was erased with three shutout innings by Toronto's bullpen, creating an opening for the Jays' rally.
"The pitchers kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win," Gaston said.
It was an opportunity that Lind did not want to let go to waste.
"That's when you want to hit, late in the game," Lind said with a smile. "With somebody that throws hard, it makes it easier to just try to hit one high and hopefully it goes."
And hopefully the celebration doesn't hurt too much.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.