It’s hard not to think of what could have been for the Blue Jays on this eight-game road trip, in which they struggled to secure victories that were well within their grasp. A four-run lead against the Royals in the seventh? A two-run lead over the Pirates in the ninth? Another four-run, seventh-inning lead the next night in Pittsburgh? All squandered. If those leads had been held, the Jays would be sitting atop the bunched-up American League East, where first and last place are separated by fewer than two games. Instead, heading into Tuesday night’s interleague contest in Philadelphia, they were stuck in the basement. So it seemed a familiar refrain for Jays fans when the Phillies erased a 5-0 deficit in the sixth on a game-tying grand slam by Cody Asche. This time, however, the Jays weathered the storm and fought back, winning 6-5 in the 10th on a sacrifice fly by Juan Francisco that scored Melky Cabrera, who led off the inning with his major-league-leading 48th hit of the season. Cabrera advanced to third on a single by Jose Bautista, who beat the exaggerated infield shift by poking the ball the other way. “That’s winning baseball,” said manager John Gibbons of Bautista’s hit. “You gotta take what they give you, and if they’re going to give you that big a hole, that’s how you win games.” With their third straight win the Jays salvaged what looked just a few days ago like it could be a disastrous road trip, returning home a game under .500 — same as when they left. So despite all the blown leads, they remain just a game back of first in the AL East, where no team has shown signs of rising or fading in the early going. “Some tough losses on this trip, but you look at it, we played good baseball,” Gibbons said. “Some games just got away from us.” Before Asche’s slam made a game of it, Jays starter Drew Hutchison had been in control, outduelling Phillies ace Cole Hamels over five shutout innings. Then the 23-year-old right-hander gave up three straight hits to start the sixth for the Phillies’ first run. After two quick outs, he walked the bases loaded for Asche, who made no mistake, clubbing Hutchison’s 1-and-0 offering into the right-field seats. The Phillies third baseman had a career night, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs. “I made a mistake you can’t make and that was the walk after being ahead in the count,” Hutchison said afterward. “You’re going to make bad pitches and guys are going to hit ’em — things like that are going to happen — but the walk is something that’s in your control and something you can’t do.” But after the slam, Hutchison didn’t unravel, retiring seven straight Phillies to complete a career-high eight innings.
Blue Jays bounce back, beat Phillies in 10th
Toronto Star | May 7