TORONTO — A wild, bizarre and unpredictable bottom of the ninth inning went the Toronto Blue Jays’ way Sunday afternoon.
The frame included a rally-starting double by light-hitting Munenori Kawasaki, an infield pop-up that dropped in and an aggressive double steal. Chris Colabello capped it with a two-run single to give Toronto a thrilling 7-6 walkoff victory over the Houston Astros.
Kawasaki sliced a ground-rule double off Luke Gregerson and scored on a single by Jose Reyes, who stole second. Jose Bautista got under a pitch and it drifted towards Reyes at second, who squatted down and covered his head while staying on the base.
Shortstop Jonathan Villar bumped into Reyes as he tried to catch it, and the ball dribbled out to leave everyone safe.
"I’ve never seen that before," said Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey. "And when that happened, we were all looking at each other like it’s probably destiny that we’re going to pull this one off."
Reyes and Bautista each moved up a base on the double steal and Colabello got his bat on an outside pitch and sent it up the middle to drive them home, sending the 35,571 fans at Rogers Centre into a tizzy.
"Getting the runner to third makes it a little bit harder for (Gregerson) to want to bounce one or throw his really nasty (slider)," Colabello said. "I told myself, ‘If it’s above my waist, I’m going to swing.’
"Little did I know I would swing at one that was in the other box. But thankfully it worked out."
The victory completed a three-game sweep for Toronto (28-30) and extended the Blue Jays’ season-high winning streak to five games.
"This is baseball, man," Reyes said. "In baseball, a lot of crazy stuff happens. It worked out our way today."
Bautista hit two solo homers and Canadian Russell Martin added a two-run shot in Toronto’s third walkoff win of the season. Colabello also extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games.
"He’s got a hitting streak on the line and he clutched up there," said Toronto manager John Gibbons.
It was the Astros’ first loss of the season when leading after the eighth inning (29-1). Liam Hendriks (1-0) worked two scoreless innings for his first career win as a reliever while Gregerson (2-1) blew his second save of the year.
Houston (34-24) appeared primed to salvage the series finale after scoring four runs in the seventh inning. Instead, the Astros’ losing skid grew to four games.
"To have this one taken away from us is painful," said manager A.J. Hinch. "It’s something that we expected to win. We’ll just have to pack our bags, get out of Toronto and come back better tomorrow."
Bautista opened the scoring in the first inning by belting a Collin McHugh pitch for his 10th homer of the year. The Blue Jays slugger has reached base safely in 17 straight games.
Jake Marisnick hit a solo homer in the third for his fourth blast of the year, making it a 2-1 game. Martin, a Toronto native who grew up in Chelsea, Que., restored the Blue Jays’ lead in the fourth inning with his eighth homer of the season.
Bautista’s second homer of the day came in the seventh inning. It was his first multi-homer game of the year and 24th of his career.
Notes: The game took three hours six minutes to play. … Dickey allowed four hits, two earned runs and four walks while striking out five. McHugh had three strikeouts over six innings and gave up seven hits, three earned runs and a walk. … Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion took the day off after getting a cortisone shot in his sore left shoulder on Saturday. He could return for Monday’s series opener against Miami. Right-hander Marco Estrada (2-3, 3.77 earned-run average) is scheduled to start against left-hander Brad Hand (1-1, 4.24) of the visiting Marlins. … It was Marcus Stroman bobblehead day. … Donaldson has reached base in 38 straight games against the Astros. It’s the longest active streak in the major leagues for any player versus one club.