Blue Jays 8 Mets 6
TORONTO — The Blue Jays said they wanted to give Lourdes Gurriel Jr. a good, long look when they re-called him from triple-A on Monday. A day later, he delivered quite the show.
Gurriel Jr. hit a two-run, tiebreaking homer and the Blue Jays rallied to beat the New York Mets 8-6 Tuesday, on a night when Toronto starter Marco Estrada left with a hip injury in the first inning and Jose Bautista made his return to Rogers Centre.
Gurriel sent a Tim Peterson (1-1) change-up over the left-field wall in the eighth, an inning after Yangervis Solarte had tied the game with a three-run shot.
“It makes perfect sense to let him learn in the big leagues … and he answered with that big home run tonight,” manager John Gibbons said. “We signed him out of Cuba for a reason, might as well find out (what he can do).”
Gurriel made his big league debut April 20 but struggled through his first month in the majors before getting sent down in mid-May. He was recalled again last month and played just one game before heading back to triple-A.
The 24-year-old, who signed a seven-year deal with Toronto as an international free agent in 2016, said he’s learned from his up-and-down season already.
“I feel a little more comfortable and more confident,” Gurriel said through a translator. “I’m not going to say I have a lot of experience, but the first couple times I was up it helped me a lot. Now the game has slowed down a little bit and I just feel better now.”
Solarte’s homer — his team-leading 16th of the year — capped a five-run seventh inning for the Blue Jays (40-45).
That inning began inauspiciously for Bautista when he was charged with a fielding error on a one-out single from Randal Grichuk. Grichuk reached third on the play and scored on a Gurriel groundout, and Devon Travis cut the deficit to 6-3 on a wild pitch.
John Axford (2-1) handled the eighth and recorded two outs in the ninth before a Bautista single and an Asdrubal Cabrera walk. Tyler Clippard got the final out for the save on a night when the Blue Jays bullpen accounted for 26 outs.
“It shows the staff that we have down there, their ability and what they can do,” Axford said.
The 34-year-old Estrada threw just 12 pitches before exiting the game with left hip soreness with one out in the first. He allowed two runs, one hit, one walk and struck out a batter.
X-rays on Estrada’s hip were negative. He was to have an MRI after the game and was not available to media.
“His left hip’s been bothering him a little bit, it was bothering him in his last start but it was worse tonight,” Gibbons said. “We’ll have a little better idea (after the MRI). But the guys in the bullpen, what did we have one out? They came in and that’s hard to do.
“They stepped up.”
Bautista’s night started out well, walking and scoring on a first-inning homer from Cabrera that put the Mets up 2-0 before Estrada’s exit. The former Blue Jays slugger was 1 for 2 with three walks. Devin Mesoraco and Wilmer Flores also homered as New York (33-49) built a 5-0 lead.
Bautista received a rousing ovation from a half-filled crowd when a video tribute showing his most memorable moments in a Toronto uniform was played before the first pitch. Bautista, who was stretching along the first-base line when the tribute began, acknowledged the crowd by waving and clapping.
The Blue Jays further acknowledged Bautista during his at bat in the first inning, playing Usher’s “O.M.G.” — the song he used during his 54-homer season in 2010, and the one he brought back for his final home game in 2017 — as he stepped to the plate. Bautista appeared teary-eyed as he held up his batting helmet and again waved to the 24,010 in attendance.
“It was great to be recognized, great to acknowledge the fans and great to know that they feel good that I’m back and they wanted to recognize me,” Bautista said. “So it was a great moment. I had to hold back a little bit but I managed to get through it without shedding any tears so that was fun.”
Former Met Curtis Granderson plated Russell Martin on a two-out double in the fifth to put Toronto on the board, but Michael Conforto added an RBI double for the Mets in the top of the seventh for a 6-1 lead.
New York starter Zach Wheeler allowed two runs and three hits while walking two and striking out five in 6 1/3 innings.
Bautista spent 10 years as a Blue Jay, hitting 288 homers and driving in 766 runs over 1,235 regular-season games.