Toronto manager John Gibbons placed his trust in two new Blue Jays and was rewarded for his confidence.
With Danny Valencia hitting a single and Nolan Reimold following with the game-winning double in the 10th inning, the Blue Jays came back for a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.
The Blue Jays tied it in the ninth on a single by Dioner Navarro against Tigers closer Joe Nathan.
Valencia and Reimold, both unheralded acquisitions last month, entered the game as pinch-hitters in the eighth inning and struck out as the final two batters to face Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer, who had 11 strikeouts.
But when Valencia and Reimold were set to hit as the first two batters in the 10th, Gibbons gave bench coach DeMarlo Hale a little nudge.
“I said to DeMarlo at the start of that inning, we’ve got those two new news guys here, usually you see in the first couple of weeks in a new place they do something big,” Gibbons said. “It’s just kind of the way it happens, they both did it.”
Valencia, acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Royals on July 26, led off with an infield single into the hole at shortstop against reliever Joba Chamberlain (1-5). Valencia has a hit in seven of his first 10 games with the Blue Jays.
Reimold, claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles on July 6, took a called first strike, fouled off the next one and pounded an 0-2 slider that caught too much of the plate to left centre for the winning hit.
“I was expecting a breaking ball but I was expecting it to be a ball trying to get me to chase,” Reimold said. “So thankfully I was ready to hit and put it in play. I’ll take it. I was happy to come through.”
It’s not the first game that Reimold has won for the Blue Jays. After coming off a calf injury that put him on the disabled list, he hit two home runs, including the game winner, at Houston on July 31.
His hit on Saturday made a winner of left-handed reliever Aaron Loup (4-3) who pitched the top of the 10th after rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman pitched a career-high nine innings.
The win also gave the Blue Jays a boost after the Tigers scored three runs on two home runs in the ninth inning in a 5-4 comeback win on Friday.
“The whole team played a great game, Stroman pitched awesome,” Reimold said.
“I had a feeling we were going to pull it out,” Stroman said. “Everyone was super confident in the dugout, guys kind of had a buzz about them that knew we were going to get the job done and it ended up working out. As everything was unfolding, I was just sitting there excited.”
The Blue Jays (62-56) and Tigers (63-51) have split the first two games of the series with the rubber match on Sunday.
Stroman, who had a good sinking fastball Saturday, allowed four hits, three walks and two runs while striking out four. He is the first Blue Jays rookie to go nine innings since David Bush on Oct. 1, 2004, against the New York Yankees.
Scherzer, who has had 11 strikeouts in a start one other time this season and has a season high of 13, said he was spent after holding the Blue Jays to four hits, no walks and one run after eight innings.
“I was done,” Scherzer said. “There’s nothing else to it. I was done I’m not going to sit here and play second guess the manager. I was done. I looked at Brad (manager Ausmus) and he had his hand out so I shook it and I was done. That’s all there is to talk about. I emptied the tank to get through the last inning.”
Nathan replaced Scherzer for the bottom of the ninth but could not hold the 2-1 lead.
Jose Reyes led off with a single, his second hit of the game, and stole second. A review of the play at second base upheld the safe call.
Melky Cabrera’s fly out to deep right sent Reyes to third. Jose Bautista was walked intentionally. Navarro rapped a 3-1 pitch on the ground to right field to tie the game at 2-2.
The Blue Jays had a chance to win it without going to an extra innings. A wild pitch put runners at second and third. Colby Rasmus walked to load the bases and right-hander Joakim Soria replaced Nathan. Juan Francisco popped out to shortstop and Munenori Kawasaki grounded out to first to send the game to an extra inning.
Soria came to the mound for the 10th but left with a side strain before throwing a pitch and was replaced by Chamberlain.
“We’re not sure how bad it is,” Ausmus said. “We won’t know until tomorrow.”
Victor Martinez sliced a two-out, two-run double to left field in the sixth inning as the Tigers took a 2-0 lead. Ian Kinsler, who singled with two out, and Miguel Cabrera, who walked, scored.
The Blue Jays answered with a run in their sixth. Reyes singled with two out and Cabrera sent him home with a double to left centre. It was Cabrera’s second hit of the game as he extended his hit streak to four games.
That set up the late-inning heroics.
“It was a great day all the way around,” Gibbons said. “It was really the only way to end it.”
Notes: Announced attendance at Rogers Centre was 45,927, ninth sellout of the season. Blue Jays DH Adam Lind (right foot fracture) was not in the lineup Saturday for the Gulf Coast League game in Florida. He is still expected to join the Blue Jays in Seattle for a three-game series against the Mariners that opens on Monday. Lind went 2-for-2 on Thursday in his first rehabilitation outing in the GCL but took Friday off as a precaution after he experienced some back tightness. Former Blue Jays OF Rajai Davis had two singles on Saturday for the Tigers. He had two doubles in Detroit’s 5-4 win on Friday. LHP David Price (11-8, 3.11 earned-run average), who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade on July 31, will pitch the series finale on Sunday for the Tigers against Blue Jays LHP Mark Buehrle (11-8, 3.27 ERA).Report Typo/Error