Sunday, May 14, 2017

{allcanada} Pillar, Jays walk-off to fifth straight win


TORONTO — Kevin Pillar hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Blue Jays over the Seattle Mariners 3-2 on Sunday for Toronto's fifth consecutive win.

Pillar came to the plate with two outs and the game seemingly headed to extra innings but the American League's hits leader brought the 42,030 in attendance at Rogers Centre to their feet with a line drive to left-centre field.

It was Pillar's first career walkoff home run and is the first Toronto centre-fielder to hit a walkoff since Vernon Wells in July 2006.

Justin Smoak also hit a home run, a two-run shot in the sixth inning, for the Blue Jays (17-21).

Aaron Sanchez (0-1) returned to start after a stint on the 10-day disabled list and allowed one unearned run, five hits and struck out four in five innings pitched. He was pulled after 78 pitches in favour of Dominic Leone.

Sanchez was out since May 1 with a split nail on the middle finger of his throwing hand. Blood appeared on Sanchez's right thigh, around his belt, after two innings — presumably from his throwing hand.

Leone was followed by Ryan Tepera, who earned the win after working 2 1/3 innings and striking out two.

Ariel Miranda started for the Mariners and struck out eight over five innings of work, allowing one earned run. Pillar's 48th hit of the season came off reliever Edwin Diaz, and dropped Seattle (17-21) to its fourth straight loss.

Steve Pearce hit a double to right field in the second inning but injured himself sliding to avoid the tag. The Blue Jays later announced he had tightness in his right calf. He was replaced in left field by Ezequiel Carrera.

Jean Segura hit a double to shallow right field, pushing Carlos Ruiz to third. But Jose Bautista's throw from the outfield was off, earning him an error and allowing Segura to reach third and Ruiz to score for a 1-0 Mariners lead.

Smoak took the lead for Toronto in the sixth inning with a low line drive to left-centre field that just made it over the wall. He drove in Jose Bautista, who had led off the inning with a walk, to make it 2-1.

Dyson replied in the next inning with a solo shot off Leone to right field, his first of the season, to tie it 2-2 and set up Pillar's heroics two innings later.

Notes: Maritza Estrada, the mother of Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada, threw out the opening pitch to her son. He hugged her and gave her a bouquet of flowers on the field before returning to the dugout. ... Toronto reliever Neil Ramirez cleared waivers on Sunday, but elected free agency. The Blue Jays had claimed him off waivers from the San Francisco Giants on May 4.

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