Better late than never has been the modus-operandi of Toronto Blue Jays through the first two games of the 2012 Major League Baseball season.
For the second consecutive game, the Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians needed extra innings to determine a winner.
And for the second straight game, the Blue Jays emerged victorious, squeezing out a 7-4 victory in 12 innings over the Indians before 18,842 fans at sunny, but cool, Progressive Field on Saturday.
The Blue Jays are getting better at this.
It took them 16 innings on Thursday before they could settle matters with another 7-4 win in what was the longest regular-season opener in the history of the game.
Rajai Davis tallied the big hit on Saturday, doubling to right-centre to score Edwin Encarnacion from third and Brett Lawrie all the way from first to break a 3-3 tie in the top of the 12th.
The Blue Jays tagged on two more runs after that and then held on to give themselves a chance for a series sweep on Sunday..
Lawrie almost toppled over negotiating a spin move combined with a vigorous fist pump after he slid home -- and still managed to beat Encarnacion into the dugout where high-fives soon erupted as the energetic third baseman rampaged through.
“He’s on a dead sprint into the bat rack,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. “You stand clear.”
Lawrie had good reason to be elated.
Back in the seventh inning, when Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez still had a no-hitter going, Lawrie ripped a shot the opposite way to right-centre for Toronto’s first hit that scored two and tied the game at 2-2.
For Lawrie, who finished he game going three-for-five, the hit concluded an 0-for-8 slump to begin a season where it took a total of 28 innings to decide two contests.
“You want to win those games,” said Lawrie, who also made a couple of fine defensive plays at third. “I’m sure they’re [the Indians]hurtin’ over there right now because of putting all that effort in and you end up losing it. I’m glad we came out on top.”
The Jays tagged on two more runs in the 12th, just to make sure.
One of those runs was driven in by Colby Rasmus whose single to left ended an 0-for-10 skid.
Closer Sergio Santos, who was obtained during the off-season in a trade from the Chicago White Sox to plug the leaks in the back end of the Toronto bullpen, did not have a great outing.
After Kelly Johnson homered in the top of the ninth inning to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead, Santos was called upon to shut the door in the bottom of the frame.
Instead, Santos opened it -- serving up a fatty to Asdrubal Cabrera who blasted the 1-1 offering over the wall in right field that tied the score and send the game into extras.
Both starting pitchers -- Jimenez for the Indians and Brandon Morrow for the Blue Jays -- had no-hitters going through the first four innings.
Morrow pitched seven strong, allowing just one hit and displaying a good changeup that helped produce 10 ground ball outs.
Toronto reliever Casey Janssen was credited with the win, throwing two innings of no-hit ball in the 10th and 11th.
“We did a great job of hanging in there again today, scrapping a couple off of Ubaldo who was throwing the ball great,” Morrow said. “Our bullpen, just another great job. Those guys threw a lot of innings on Thursday night. I tried to do my best to keep us in it for as long as I could.”
In the fifth inning, Cleveland’s Casey Kotchman hit a squibber in front of the plate that Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia pounced on.
But his hurried throw was in the dirt and wide of first base that a stretching Adam Lind could not handle and Kotchman was on with a two-out error.
That would hurt Toronto as the next batter, Jason Kipnis, counted the game’s first hit off Morrow, launching a 3-2 pitch deep to right field for a home run that provided Cleveland with a 2-0 lead.
Both of the runs were unearned because of J.P. Arencibia throwing error.