Goins, Estrada help Blue Jays edge Orioles in series opener
Toronto pitcher Dominic Leone earns 1st save of the season
Darwin Barney has been doing just about everything for the Blue Jays lately.
That includes providing some comic relief.
Barney hit a double in the second inning of Toronto's 4-3 win over the Orioles on Monday and advanced to third when Baltimore's Adam Jones bobbled the ball in centre field. But Barney slid into the bag just a little too early, his body bobbing on the dirt before reaching the base before the throw.
Barney, who later scored on a Richard Urena double, looked up with a sheepish grin and gave a thumbs up to his dugout after the gaffe.
"Fans looked a little bored, thought I'd get them on their feet a little bit," Barney said, the same smile returning to his face.
"There's been a little bug going around. I woke up today feeling crummy. ... [my legs] locked up on me and the rest is history. But hey, I got on third for Urena and he got me in so I got the job done."
Ryan Goins, who hit a solo homer and drove in two runs to lead Toronto (67-77) offensively, teased Barney in the clubhouse by making fun of his slide.
"Just as miserable as your home run trot," Barney fired back.
The infielder is batting .438 over his last nine games with six extra-base hits over that span. He went 2 for 3 Monday while playing third base. Josh Donaldson DH'd after missing three games with an illness.
"There was a point where I was making a lot of outs and I figured if I'm going to make outs I might as well try to be a threat, try to get the bat in the front of the zone and make them throw pitches around," Barney said of his new approach at the plate. "Ever since then I've been focusing on getting the bat out a little bit and it's been going alright."
'I felt really good today'
Marco Estrada (8-8), who allowed two runs on four hits while striking out seven over five innings, appreciated Barney's effort — while also getting a jab in.
"Poor guy, I think we're going to see that [slide] pretty often on TV, misplays or something, I don't know," Estrada chuckled. "But he got to third, that's all that matters. It looked like he ran out of gas but he made it."
The 34-year-old Estrada improved to 3-0 against Baltimore this year and 7-1 versus the Orioles in his career. He has allowed three earned runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts.
"[My command] has definitely come back," Estrada said. "I felt really good today, I felt good on the last one. It's been a weird year, I went through a rough patch there where I had no clue where the ball was going.
"These things happen, everyone goes through them. It just took me a while to get out of it. But I think as of late I've turned my season around."
'I'm happy with everything'
Mark Trumbo homered for the Orioles (71-73) and Jones and Caleb Joseph had RBI singles.
Baltimore had the tying run on second base with one out in the ninth inning but Dominic Leone pitched around it with two strikeouts for his first save of the season.
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10) gave up three runs and six hits over five innings while walking two and striking out five.
Goins's fourth-inning home run gave Toronto a 3-1 lead but Trumbo led off the fifth with a solo shot of his own, a no-doubter to left-centre-field that Estrada didn't even turn to look at.
"I missed on [the pitch] to Trumbo, I was trying to get it in and kind of left it middle-in and elevated and he hit it out," Estrada said. "The other hits I gave up weren't too bad. I'm happy with everything."
Barney made it 4-2 in the sixth when Miguel Montero scored from third on his weak dribbler off former Blue Jays closer Miguel Castro.
Caleb drove in Trey Mancini to bring the Orioles back within a run in seventh.
Prior to the game, the team announced closer Roberto Osuna will be away from the team for three days as he expects the birth of his first child.
Former Jays adviser dies at age 90
Mel Didier, a former scouting director for the Montreal Expos who finished his career as a senior adviser for the Toronto Blue Jays, died Monday. He was 90.
Didier spent seven decades in baseball, first as a minor league pitcher, then as a coach, executive and scout.
The native of Louisiana worked as a scouting director for the Expos from 1969-1975 before spending time with the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers.
He served as senior adviser for player development to the Blue Jays from 2009 to the time of his death.
"Few men in our great game have had universal admiration throughout baseball as Mel Didier did," said Paul Beeston, Toronto's President Emeritus in a statement. "On behalf of the Toronto Blue Jays, I would like to extend my sincere condolences and sympathies to his wife Elena and the entire Didier family."
The Blue Jays held a moment of silence for Didier — following moments of silence for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and victims of the recent hurricanes in the U.S. and the Caribbean — before Monday night's game against Baltimore at Rogers Centre.
Didier also coached baseball and football for his alma mater, LSU in the 1950's and 1960's.