KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Back on the mound, Roberto Osuna settled into his comfort zone.
The Toronto closer struck out three in a scoreless ninth inning a day after saying he was dealing with anxiety issues, and the Blue Jays avoided a sweep by beating the Kansas City Royals 8-2 Sunday.
“I felt really good and I felt better than yesterday and the day before,” Osuna said through a translator. “I’m just ready to work on that and get over it.”
Jose Bautista homered and drove in a season-high four runs and Francisco Liriano earned his 100th career victory.
Osuna didn’t pitch in a save situation on Friday night, and the Blue Jays’ bullpen let a game get away. On Saturday, the 22-year-old reliever said he was out of sorts mentally and feeling lost.
Osuna has received an outpouring of support on social media.
“I didn’t read everything, but I hear about it,” he said. “I really appreciate the support of the people, but I have other stuff to think about right now. I just thank the fans for that, but I’m just trying to work on that by myself.”
“I’m just trying to do my best when I go out there and I’m trying to follow directions, whatever the doctors and trainers here tell me to do. I just follow directions and hopefully it’s going to get better,” he said.
Osuna, who has 19 saves, returned to the mound in a non-save spot and gave up an infield single while getting the last three outs.
“If there comes a time or day he doesn’t feel he could, he would let us know,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “But that’s personal stuff. You guys need to stay out of that.”
Bautista hit a two-run, 450-foot homer in the fifth that tied it. He walked with the bases loaded in a five-run sixth and singled home Kevin Pillar, who had three hits, in the seventh.
Bautista did a little celebration dance with Osuna after the final out.
“Hopefully he can continue to come out there when we need him,” Bautista said. “It’s encouraging to see him just go out and pitch well.”
Liriano (4-3) allowed two runs on six hits while pitching into the seventh. He improved to 100-95 in 12 seasons with Toronto, Minnesota, the White Sox and Pittsburgh.
The Blue Jays scored five runs off relievers Scott Alexander (0-2) and Peter Moylan, who combined to face six batters and retire none. Josh Donaldson’s two-run double was the key hit in the sixth.
Royals starter Jason Hammel left after five innings and 105 pitches. He gave up five hits and struck out six.
Jorge Bonifacio homered in the first for the Royals. He doubled in the fourth and scored on Eric Hosmer’s single.
“You win the first two games, you’re obviously disappointed you don’t sweep,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “The fact we won the series is a little bit of a consolation.”
After Moylan was pulled in the sixth, he had a few choice words on the way to the dugout for plate umpire John Tumpane and was ejected. Moylan had issues with Tumpane’s strike zone.
“I don’t know whether you noticed my reaction, but I felt a couple of them could have been called strikes in that situation,” Moylan said when he walked Bautista. “A 2-2 count as opposed to a 3-1 count changes the whole at-bat and the whole game really.”
NOT GOOD IN DIVISION
The Royals will play their next seven games against AL Central opponents Detroit and Minnesota. Kansas City is 9-18 within the division. The Royals are 12-7 against AL East clubs, 11-10 against AL West and 5-2 against the National League.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (right oblique strain) made his first minor league rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Omaha. He allowed two runs on three hits, including a home run, struck out three and walked one. “He felt good. His stuff was good,” Yost said. Duffy threw 48 pitches. His next scheduled start will be Thursday at Colorado Springs.
Blue Jays: After an off-day Monday, RHP Kevin Gausman (3-7, 6.47) will start Tuesday against visiting Baltimore.
Royals: LHP Matt Strahm (2-4, 4.80) will start Tuesday at Detroit.