TORONTO—Blue Jays’ reliever Jason Grilli says he’s still getting used to the American League East.
“It’s like a heavyweight boxing match every night,” noted the 39-year-old right-hander, who joined the Jays in late May from Atlanta.
“No big lead is big enough from the sounds of it and from the looks of it.”
That was almost the case yesterday as Toronto blew leads of 5-0 in the first inning and 7-1 in the third against Baltimore, eventually hanging on for a 10-9 victory.
Grilli got a nervy first save as a Jay—closing the door after putting the first two men on base in the ninth.
The Orioles hit five home runs, four of which came off Aaron Sanchez (6-1), who became the first Jay to win a decision when surrendering four home runs.
It also marked just the fifth win in franchise history when allowing five homers—the last time was May 3, 1999 at Seattle.
Down 7-1, Baltimore used the long ball to get back to 7-6.
But Russell Martin drove a 1-1 pitch off reliever Mychal Givens deep to centre in the sixth to drive in Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders and pad the Toronto lead to 10-6.
Adam Jones, with his second homer of the day and 11th of the season, made it interesting with a two-run shot off Pat Venditte in the eighth to cut the lead to 10-8.
Then in the ninth, Manny Machado singled and Grilli walked Chris Davis. Then after striking out Mark Trumbo, he walked Matt Wieters to load the bases.
Ezequiel Carrerra hauled in a Pedro Alvarez drive with a fine catch at the fence—scoring Machado on the sacrifice fly.
Grilli then fanned Jonathan Schoop to end the threat.
“It was one of those days,” said Jays’ manager John Gibbons, citing the heat, stiff breeze, and Baltimore’s hitting ability.
We outlasted them,” he added. “It was a hell of a game, really a hell of a series.
“So we feel good today, that’s for sure.
“It got a little tight but our new big acquisition came through,” Gibbons added.
“He’s got a lot of guts.”
“Our guys were engaged and came real close, and put a good scare into them,” noted Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter.
Grilli was needed for a second-straight game because closer Roberto Osuna has been dealing with a sore arm the last few days.
“Nothing major but we can’t afford to lose him,” Gibbons stressed.
Grilli, who also has played for Florida, the White Sox, Detroit, Colorado, Texas, Pittsburgh, and the Angels, had three strikeouts in closing out Saturday’s 11-6 win.
“I was a little bit tired today honestly,” he admitted. “But I always give out what I have and it was enough.”
Toronto (35-30) now has won three-straight and nine of its last 13, and now stands five games above .500 for the first time this season.
The Orioles (36-26) have lost three in a row after a five-game win streak.
Toronto, collecting 10 or more hits for a third-straight game, out-hit Baltimore 14-13 in reaching the 10-run mark for the fourth time this season.
They had 12 10-plus-run games at this same stage last season.
Jones, Wieters, and Davis, homering for his fifth-straight game to up his season total to 16, all found the fence off Sanchez in a four-run fifth inning to cut the lead to 7-6.
It was the first time the Jays had surrendered three homers in one inning since June 24, 2013 at Tampa Bay.
Davis homered in each of the four games in Toronto. He did not play in Baltimore’s game Wednesday against Kansas City, but homered again the Royals on Tuesday.
Alvarez hit a solo shot for the Orioles in the fourth. Kevin Pillar also homered for Toronto.
Baltimore came into the game leading the majors with 94 home runs while Toronto was tied for fifth with 83.
The two combined for 19 homers in the four-game series.
Sanchez, who struck out a career-high 12 in his last start, came into the game leading the majors in ground-ball outs at 59.5 percent.
He could have used a few more grounders in a difficult five-inning outing that saw him give up six runs on 10 hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts.
“I felt like I made good pitches out there. Just one bad inning really,” Sanchez said. “They were able to lift some balls up.
“Obviously the wind was doing its thing today. [But] there’s no excuses.”
“I’ll learn from that inning and move on,” he vowed.
Elsewhere in the AL, Minnesota beat Boston 7-4 (10 innings), Detroit downed New York 4-1, Tampa Bay blanked Houston 5-0, Kansas City shaded Chicago 3-1, Cleveland dumped L.A. 8-3, and Texas topped Seattle 6-4.
Over in the NL, Washington edged Philadelphia 5-4, Milwaukee beat New York 5-3, Chicago bombed Atlanta 13-2, Arizona blanked Miami 6-0, Colorado nipped San Diego 2-1, St. Louis dumped Pittsburgh 8-3, and San Francisco shaded L.A. 2-1.
Oakland beat Cincinnati 6-1 in interleague play.