One day after an 11th-inning defensive blunder spoiled a Toronto comeback, the Blue Jays reeled off six straight runs Sunday afternoon to down the New York Yankees 8-4 and avert a series sweep.
Toronto (8-11) heads off to Baltimore for three games and then New York for four, thinking it may finally be heading down the right road after a wobbly start.
"We still have that feeling inside that we're close — to breaking out and getting everything going in the right direction," manager John Gibbons said.
"Baseball, since you do play every day, is a emotional roller-coaster," he added. "So many ups and downs. we haven't really had that good feeling (yet) ... We've got a good ball club. We just think it's a matter of time. Maybe today's something that will get us going."
There were a lot of contributors to Sunday's win.
With Toronto trailing 4-2, Brett Lawrie doubled home two runs in a four-run sixth inning. J.P. Arencibia hit his seventh homer one inning later to keep the comeback cooking.
Adam Lind tied a club record with four consecutive walks, Melky Cabrera went 3-for-4 and Colby Rasmus went 2-for-3, driving in a run with a timely hit off a left-hander.
Munenori Kawasaki, in his first crack at leading off, scored and drove in a run in the first two innings.
And the Toronto bullpen — in the form of Brett Cecil (1-0), Esmil Rogers and Darren Oliver — delivered 3 2-3 innings of scoreless relief.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring for just the sixth time this season (it has won five of those games). It also marked the first time in eight games — an 8-4 win in Kansas City on April 17 — that it had scored more than four runs.
"It was huge. A good team win," said Toronto starter Josh Johnson, who gave up eight hits and four runs while striking out four and walking three in 5 1-3 innings. "Everybody contributed. Everybody did something."
Johnson, who gave up a solo homer to catcher Chris Stewart in the third, seemed to have things under control until the fifth inning when consecutive bases-loaded walks gifted New York a 3-2 lead.
"I just lost it," said the big right-hander. "It seems like it happens a couple times a year where all of a sudden you can't find the zone."
Lawrie's heroics with the bat helped take the sting out of being involved in the fielding breakdown that led to the New York win Saturday. It was all the more impressive given that he has been thrown back into the deep end after a long layoff due to a rib injury.
Lawrie, a made-in-Canada bundle of energy, was hitting .105 going into the game, with just two hits in 19 at-bats.
"In a lot of ways it's like spring training for him now," Gibbons said of where Lawrie's hitting is at.
Lawrie also shone at third base by stabbing a hard hit ball from Stewart in the eighth to trigger a double play.
The game was a sellout for the second straight day at the Rogers Centre, with 45,575 on hand to see the Jays show some fight — and offence. Toronto came into the game ranked 13th in the American League in batting average (.225).
New York (10-7) lost for just the third time in its last 12 outings. Toronto, which had lost five of its last seven in a variety of painful ways, needed a pick-me-up.
"(Saturday) kind of stunk because we let one get away," said Arencibia. "It's good to be able to put something together."
Trailing 4-2 in the sixth inning, the Jays sent eight batters to the plate while having their way with three Yankees pitchers.
Left-hander Boone Logan (0-1) came in for starter Ivan Nova with Jays on second and third and no one out after a Lind walk and an Arencibia double. Rasmus, hitting .143 against left-handers, drove in Lind with a broken bat single to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Lawrie then slammed a ball down the third-base line off right-hander David Phelps to drive home Arencibia and Rasmus for a 5-4 lead. Then with two outs, Cabrera singled in Lawrie to make it 6-4.
Arencibia followed that up with homer in the seventh to drive in Lind and pad the lead to 8-4. The Toronto catcher now has seven home runs and 28 strikeouts in a feast-or-famine start to the season. Twelve of Arencibia's 18 hits have been for extra bases.
Johnson gave way to Cecil with Jayson Nix on third with no outs in the sixth after a single, wild pitch and sacrifice bunt. While the Jays had been flubbing their fundamentals for much of the series, New York got it right by executing a sacrifice fly to score Nix and double its lead to 4-2.
Toronto first baseman Edwin Encarnacion went 0-for-4 with an RBI on his bobblehead giveaway day.
His trips to the plate included two long drives to left field with former Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells making a dazzling play to rob him of an extra base hit in the third, climbing up the left-field fence to haul in Encarnacion's drive before firing the ball back to double up Jose Bautista at first. Wells then tipped his cap to the booing fans.
His sore back better, Bautista shifted back to right field. That allowed Gibbons to insert Lind at designated hitter while replacing Rajai Davis with Kawasaki at the top of the order.
After the game, Gibbons said Kawasaki and Davis will probably platoon at leadoff for the time being.
Notes: The Yankees have 27 homers on the season and have homered in 15 of their 17 games. That includes all eight road outings, which ties the club's longest stretch since 2002 ... New York is 3-7 when opponents score first ... It was Cecil's first win as a reliever in 22 career appearances out of the bullpen.Suggest a correction