Justin Smoak carries Blue Jays to extra-innings rally
After tying game in the 9th, he walks it off in the 10th
Joe Biagini was in a joking mood as he stepped in front of TV cameras for his first live post-game scrum on Tuesday night.
After earning the first major league victory of his career, a 3-1 walk-off win over the Texas Rangers, the Blue Jays rookie reliever kept his nerves in check by pulling reporters' legs.
"I just wish the Raptors weren't playing so we could have all the attention. No, I'm kidding," Biagini said with a smile. "You never know what (your first win) is going to feel like. Recently I've been trying to remind myself to just be grateful to be a part of this team and get the chance to contribute.
"Just to experience that and be in the dugout and on the field ... this is by far the best team I've been a part of and to get the chance to be a contributor and experience how good these guys are, it's OK. No, it was pretty fun."
Justin Smoak tied the game with a solo homer in the ninth, then hit a two-run walk-off shot in the 10th as Toronto (13-15) snapped a four-game losing streak at home.
Struggling offence sparked late
The Toronto offence, which has struggled recently, sparked late after going down 1-0 in the top of the first inning.
The win — the Blue Jays' first walk-off victory of the season — was enough to lighten manager John Gibbons' mood post-game.
"Smokin'," Gibbons said with a laugh as he sat down to the podium.
"We were due," he added. "Biagini's first major-league win, I mean how good does that get? It was another one of those games — you can tell I'm in a better mood — It was a battle. Pitching on both sides was great."
Biagini (1-1) pitched shutout ball through the ninth and 10th innings, allowing two hits and striking out one.
Used sparingly and inconsistently this season, Biagini has yet to find his true fit with the club.
"It's tougher than it is in Little League, for example," the Blue Jays' Rule 5 draft pick joked. "But yeah, I'd say it's kind of a challenge because you want to be able to compete and be consistent. ... But it helps you develop a routine. I do my pre-game finger-painting exercises, just kidding.
"Really your routine is something you can implement every day and that challenges you to stay ready for every situation."
Starter Marco Estrada, who allowed just two hits through six solid innings, gave up a lead-off homer to Rougned Odor on his second pitch — an 88 mile-per-hour fastball that the Rangers second baseman sent over the right-field fence. Estrada also struck out three and walked one.
Phil Klein (0-1) shouldered the loss for the Rangers (15-12) after starter Martin Perez stifled the offence through the first five inning, allowing four hits, three walks and four strikeouts.
Toronto squandered a number of opportunities to tie the game. Troy Tulowitzki hit a deep fly ball to centre field for the third out of the first inning, stranding runners on the corners. Then Josh Donaldson struck out to end the fifth, leaving runners on second and third.
'Just a matter of time' before team gets on track
The Blue Jays wasted another chance in the seventh when Texas reliever Jake Diekman hit Kevin Pillar with a pitch and walked Russell Martin to put runners on first and second with nobody out. But Diekman bounced back to strike out Darwin Barney after a tough 15-pitch at-bat, then got Michael Saunders swinging for the second out. Donaldson lined out to left field off Tony Barnette to end the inning.
"You always overlook some thing when you win," Gibbons said. "You don't have to answer certain questions when you win, questions about why you didn't do this, or what happened here? It doesn't matter, you won."
The Blue Jays improved to 3-7 in one-run games this season but are still 33-55 in one-run contests since 2014.
Smoak said it's "just a matter of time" before the team gets back on track.
"Everybody in this clubhouse knows how good we are offensively and we're not panicking about anything, we've just got to get it done," Smoak said. "If we can win games while we're going through this, when we get hot it'll be even better.
Donaldson lined out to left field off Tony Barnette to end the inning.