TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have won 10 straight games for the first time in almost five years and are over the .500 mark for the first time this season.
They’re also playing with emotion and aren’t afraid to show it.
Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer to break an eighth-inning tie as Toronto (37-36) defeated the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays slugger went deep off Darren O’Day and gave the reliever a mouthful after he rounded third base on his home run trot.
"I told him just to keep talking like he was yesterday," Bautista said. "He kind of ran his mouth a little bit after he struck me out. I don’t know where that came from but I didn’t appreciate it.
"I let him know that yesterday and that’s a little reminder today that I didn’t appreciate it."
Bautista said he was caught off guard when O’Day appeared to be chirping at him on Friday in a game the Blue Jays came back to win in walk-off fashion.
O’Day wasn’t available for comment after Saturday’s game. The Toronto slugger said he’s not aware of any history between them.
"I don’t have a problem when pitchers celebrate getting a big out in a big inning," Bautista said. "But when you’re staring at me yelling stuff and I can’t really hear what you’re saying, it upset me a little bit."
With Rajai Davis on first base, Bautista worked a full count before turning on a pitch that snaked around the left-field foul pole and barely cleared the fence.
"Darren is a competitor, he likes to compete in those situations," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "Sometimes he wins, sometimes Bautista wins. You’ve got two great talented athletes competing out there and they both take it personally."
Maicer Izturis also homered for Toronto and Chien-Ming Wang had his second straight quality start. Reliever Darren Oliver (3-1) pitched one inning for the win and closer Casey Janssen worked the ninth for his 17th save.
The victory moved the Blue Jays into a virtual tie with Tampa Bay for fourth place in the American League East. The Rays dropped a 7-5 decision to the New York Yankees.
Toronto can sweep Baltimore (42-33) with a victory on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Jays last won 11 games in a row in the 1998 season.
Wang and Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (5-3) were both in form.
Wang allowed five hits and has now gone 16 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run. Toronto starters have surrendered two earned runs or less in eight of the last nine games.
"It all goes back to the way our starting pitching has been going," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "They’ve been giving us a chance every night and we have a dangerous offence."
The Blue Jays picked their spots on Saturday, managing only four hits on the day.
Toronto scratched out a run in the first inning when Melky Cabrera led off with a walk and moved to third on an Adam Lind single. Gonzalez threw a wild pitch that allowed Cabrera to score.
Cabrera saved a run in the next frame with a strong defensive effort.
With two outs and Chris Davis on third base, Travis Ishikawa hit a flare to shallow left field. Cabrera — who has had hamstring problems this season — showed some nice range by making a nice running catch.
Wang showed off his defensive skills in the third, using his quick reflexes to snag a liner and then doubling off Ryan Flaherty at first base. Nate McLouth followed with a slicing drive to deep left that Cabrera tracked down at the warning track.
Baltimore tied the game at one with an unearned run in the fifth but Toronto restored its lead in a hurry. Izturis led off the bottom of the inning by smacking the first pitch from Gonzalez over the wall in right field for his fifth homer of the season.
Wang, making his third start for Toronto after opting out of his minor-league deal with the Yankees, needed only five pitches to get through the sixth as the Orioles hit three straight ground-ball outs.
The highlight play came from first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who made a great diving stab to deny Manny Machado a hit. The boisterous crowd of 43,261 gave Wang a standing ovation after he recorded the first out in the seventh inning.
"He shut down a good hitting team," Gibbons said. "I know he feels good, he’s a part of it now. He’s given us a big boost, that’s for sure."
Aaron Loup came on in relief and hit Davis with a pitch. Loup was promptly replaced by Neil Wagner, who threw a wild pitch to Hardy that allowed Davis to move to second base.
Davis moved to third on a groundout by Hardy but Wagner got Ishikawa to fly out to end the inning.
Taylor Teagarden made it a 2-2 game in the eighth inning when he hit a solo homer off Oliver. McLouth reached on an infield single but was caught stealing and Machado fanned for the third out.
Munenori Kawasaki reached on a one-out single in the bottom half of the frame and was forced out at second when Davis hit into a fielder’s choice. Bautista followed with his 16th homer of the season.
"We’re a resilient group, we don’t give up," Bautista said. "We play hard every day, all nine innings. We might not get the result that we want every single day but lately we have.
"So it’s been a great run and hopefully it can continue."
Notes: Teagarden’s homer was his second of the season. It ended the Toronto bullpen’s streak of 27 1/3 scoreless innings. … Bautista’s next home run will be the 200th of his big-league career. … Lind went 1 for 2 to improve his batting average to .340. … The Orioles had seven hits in the game, which took two hours 35 minutes to play. … Josh Johnson (0-2) is scheduled to start the series finale for the Blue Jays. The Orioles were to announce their starter later. … Right-hander Kyle Drabek started a rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Dunedin on Saturday. He underwent Tommy John surgery a year ago.