Adrian Beltre belted a go-ahead home run and reliever Neal Cotts pitched a perfect inning to help the Texas Rangers to a 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.
Beltre scored off reliever Neil Wagner, with two outs in the seventh inning.
The Rangers (37-25) were able to survive a ninth-inning push by the Blue Jays (27-35) to preserve the victory and avoid the series sweep. With Mark Derosa on second base and Munenori Kawasaki on first due to a single, Melky Cabrera sacrifice bunted to advance the runners.
Jose Bautista struck out and had a meltdown against umpire Gary Darling, earning himself an ejection. Bautista tossed his equipment onto the turf in disgust.
Bautista did not like the call on the first pitch he faced and may have let it affect him on the next two.
Gibbons brushed it off.
“That was one at-bat,” he said. “It was a big at-bat, but it was one at-bat.”
Asked whether Bautista was gaining a reputation for losing his temper, Gibbons made nothing of it.
“Doesn’t help him, that’s for sure,” said Gibbons during the post-game press conference. “But it hasn’t really been a problem this year. Today, he just kind of blew up, but if you look over the season, it hasn’t really been an issue. We just gotta move on.”
Edwin Encarnacion popped out to end the game for the Jays. Starter Josh Johnson had a rough five innings, allowing five hits, three earned runs, walking four, and striking out four.
The Jays were coming off a 4-3 win in an 18-inning marathon against the Rangers yesterday afternoon, with a walk-off single from Rajai Davis.
It was tied for the longest game in franchise history; the Jays lost another 18-inning game, a 2-1 victory over the L.A. Angels of Anaheim in 2005. On May 31, the Jays also played a 17-inning game, this one a 4-3 loss to the San Diego Padres.
With two wins in hand and an early 4-0 lead against the Rangers, it was especially disappointing for the Jays to lose on Sunday.
“You have a 4-0 lead early, the big innings in, the next inning they score two,” said Gibbons. “We get a shutdown inning there, things are different, or could be different anyway. We had Johnson on the mound, we felt good, he was pumping it pretty good, yeah it’s frustrating.
“They’re first place [in the AL West] for a reason. They play a good brand of baseball. They pitch, they got great defence, and they make some things happen. There’s a reason for that.”
Encarnacion opened up the scoring with a ground ball to left field, scoring Cabrera, who had reached second base after a walk and a single by Bautista. It was later ruled an infield single for Bautista because he had reached base after a fielding error by Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar.
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux made a trip to the mound after the score, but it proved futile as the very next batter, Adam Lind, took starter Justin Grimm deep for a three-run home run.
Grimm allowed five hits, four earned runs, and three walks in 5.2 innings pitched while striking out six batters.
Lind was on fire coming into Sunday’s game, with four hits in Saturday’s game and a batting average of .485 (16-for-33) in his last seven.
Outfielder Nelson Cruz got the Rangers on the board in the top of the fourth with a solo shot to right field.
The inning would get worse for Johnson, as Rangers first baseman Chris McGuiness had an RBI single—his first major league hit—to cut the Jays’ lead to 4-2.
Johnson’s day ended after the fifth inning as he allowed a double, a single, and an RBI single from Cruz.
After the game, manager Gibbons revealed that a blister acquired in the fourth inning had been bothering Johnson, but also said he was happy with the righty’s performance overall.
“He was cruising right along there, then he ripped a blister on his [middle] finger,” said Gibbons. “I don’t know how much more he had in him anyway, but that didn’t help things. He was still good, but they made him work.
“Threw a lot of pitches and that’s what caught up with him. Ideally, we’re looking for more innings, but that didn’t happen. Still, we felt good where we were at.”
Asked how his finger was doing, Johnson was reassured.
“Pretty good, I got it checked out there in the fourth inning just to make sure everything was alright,” he said. “Ain’t going to do anything crazy to it or rip it open or anything like that.”
Johnson was confident that he’d be good to go for his next start as well.
“We talked to the trainers and should be good to go next start,” he said. “Didn’t burst and that’s what we’re trying to avoid is tearing some skin and then having to sit back and wait. Nothing tore, nothing busted open or anything, so I’m good.”
Lefty Juan Perez was called in to relieve Johnson.
Perez’s first inning of relief was hairy as he allowed two hits on 12 pitches. The second of the three came from third baseman Leury Garcia. Up next was Leonys Martin, who sent Garcia to third with a single of his own.
Catcher Josh Thole made a bad throw to second as Martin was stealing, sending Garcia home and tying the game at four.
With two outs in the seventh, righty Neil Wagner was called in to replace Perez and face the hot bat of Beltre. Perez allowed two hits and one run in 1.2 innings pitched. The tactic was unsuccessful as Beltre smacked a solo shot to right field to give Texas its first lead of the game.
Wagner lasted only a third of an inning, giving way to Dustin McGowan. McGowan didn’t fare much better, giving up a solo home run to David Murphy on his first pitch, giving Texas a 6-4 lead from which Toronto would not recover.
Toronto is on the road for three games against the Chicago White Sox and four games against the Rangers before returning home to face the Colorado Rockies next Monday.
On Monday, R.A. Dickey (5-7, 4.66) and the Jays face Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 3.73) and the Chicago White Sox.
Notes: Gibbons celebrated his 51st birthday yesterday…LHP Darren Oliver is expected to return from 15-day DL on Monday; he has missed 17 games…though his signing has not yet been made official, Gibbons announced Chien-Ming Wang as the starter on Tuesday…RHP Thad Weber recalled prior to today’s game from Buffalo (AAA)…Beltre is on a 14-game hit streak (single and a home run in Sunday’s game)…3B Andy LaRoche made his season debut for the Jays on Sunday…Since May 11, the Jays are 14-9…Brett Lawrie (left ankle sprain) and pitcher Brandon Morrow (forearm strain) continue to be on the 15-day DL, though the latter is close to returning for some rehab starts.