The Toronto Blue Jays re-familiarized themselves with an American League playoff atmosphere on Friday night at the Rogers Centre, winning their series opener over the Baltimore Orioles 6-5. The Blue Jays are now a half-game behind Baltimore in the division.
The Blue Jays put on a fireworks show in the bottom of the first. Jose Bautista wasted no time, hitting his first home run since returning from turf toe in his first at-bat of the game. Edwin Encarnacion soon followed with a no-doubter to left field before Troy Tulowitzki piled on the third solo shot of the inning.
Tulowitzki was responsible for the next run, as well, bringing home Encarnacion on an RBI ground out in the third. Russell Martin followed suit, driving in Michael Saunders with a single up the middle before a Kevin Pillar RBI put Toronto out in front 6-3.
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Encarnacion also added a long double off the wall in centre field, the 300th of his career.
Marco Estrada battled through six innings for the Blue Jays in another strong start. He left after six innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits while striking out six. Estrada’s ERA now sits at 3.02 on the season.
Joaquin Benoit followed Estrada on in relief to pitch the seventh, and after allowing a base-runner on an error of his own as he missed the bag at first, the veteran right-hander forced J.J. Hardy to ground into a key double-play.
Jason Grilli took the eighth inning, but started out on the wrong foot as he surrendered a first-pitch home run to Manny Machado. He quickly took control, however, leaving the mound with a mammoth fist-pump after striking out Matt Wieters.
Roberto Osuna came on to handle the ninth with a one run lead. Hardy got to him with a two-out double, but the young closer quickly shut the door for the save.