TORONTO — Devon Travis was doing his best Carlton Fisk impression: hopping down the first-base line, hoping a ball would stay fair instead of hook foul.
A fair ball on Tuesday night and Travis would have completed a comeback win for his Toronto Blue Jays in the bottom of the 12th inning. A foul ball meant a marathon at-bat would continue.
The baseball deities listened to Fisk, but not to Travis.
"I think it was really close," Travis said after the Blue Jays’ 7-6 win. "I think it was pretty close. I’d say it was probably three, four, five feet (outside of the foul pole), something like that."
Travis still found a way to contribute to the improbable win. After just missing ending the game on Carlos Villanueva’s 13th pitch, he drew a walk on the 14th pitch. A Jose Bautista walk drove in Toronto’s first run of the inning, while Josh Donaldson grounded into a fielder’s choice to tie the game again.
With Edwin Encarnacion at the plate and Paul Clemens now pitching, the spotlight again turned to Travis. A curveball bounced and got away from Padres catcher Derek Norris, and Travis scooted home to score the winning run, diving head first for the plate.
"I know the guy has a really good curveball, a really sharp one," Travis said. "I was praying for one in the dirt. It took a bad bounce, but a good bounce for us."
Still, after the game, the focus was on Travis’s at-bat. Villanueva thought he had struck out Travis with a slider on a 1-2 count. After a ball in the dirt, Travis then fouled off eight pitches in a row.
"Unbelievable, especially coming from one of the younger guys," Jays starter Marcus Stroman said. "To go in that atmosphere and that moment and grind out an AB like that, to (almost) hit a homer and come back and take the next pitch, it shows you the composure that Devon has. It’s incredible."
"He’s that type of hitter. He’s got a short swing," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He’s always had an ability to hit breaking balls, or foul off good breaking balls. With such a short swing, it’s easier for those guys."
The Blue Jays looked sunk in the top of the 12th inning. After retiring the first eight batters he faced, reliever Jesse Chavez (1-2), the eventual winner, allowed a double to Wil Myers and a home run to Matt Kemp.
Yet, the Blue Jays somehow pieced together a winning rally, scoring three runs with just two hits.
That was a theme on the night. Toronto also tied the game in the seventh inning, using just one hit — one that did not leave the infield from Travis — two walks and two wild pitches.
"I’m proud of the guys," Gibbons said. "They keep gutting it out, competing."
Donaldson and Justin Smoak homered for the Blue Jays (57-44). In addition to Kemp, Alex Dickerson homered for the Padres (43-58).
Dickerson’s blast gave the Padres a home run in 24 straight games, the longest streak since 2002, when the Rangers hit a home run in a record 27 straight games.
Stroman allowed four runs and seven hits in six-and-two-thirds innings.
Melvin Upton Jr., whom the Blue Jays acquired from San Diego earlier in the day, spoke to the Toronto media before the game and was in uniform. Upton was not in the starting lineup, but pinch hit for Smoak with two runners on base and no outs in the bottom of the seventh. He hit into a fielder’s choice.
Before the game, Gibbons said he plans to start Upton in Wednesday’s series-ending matinee game, allowing Bautista to serve as the designated hitter.
The Blue Jays announced after the game that they had traded reliever Drew Storen and cash considerations to the Seattle Mariners for reliever Joaquin Benoit. Storen, 28, was 1-3 with three saves and a 6.21 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 38 relief appearances with Toronto this season. He was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Sunday.