Steve Pearce hit a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning to give the Toronto Blue Jays a miraculous 11-10 comeback win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Toronto’s rally comes a day after the Angels stunned the Jays with a dramatic ninth-inning comeback of their own.
It’s Pearce’s second walk-off grand slam this week after Toronto beat the Oakland Athletics in extra innings on Thursday.
The Jays trailed 10-4 entering the final frame until Kevin Pillar hit a two-run homer and infielder Rob Refsnyder doubled to chase Angels reliever Brooks Pounders. With Bud Norris taking over on the mound, Ezequiel Carrera and Russell Martin singled to cut the lead to 10-7 and, after Justin Smoak grounded out, Kendrys Morales walked to set the table for Pearce’s heroics.
Matt Dermody got the win for Toronto (49-56) after pitching three innings of relief without giving up an earned run.
Albert Pujols homered twice for the Angels (51-55), who seemed to be in cruise control until Toronto’s wild ninth inning.
Cesar Valdez started for the Blue Jays, and after the journeyman right-hander picked up his first win in over seven years with a solid start against Oakland Tuesday, it was immediately clear he wasn’t going to be as sharp Sunday.
After a Mike Trout single in the first inning, Pujols sent the eighth pitch of the game into the left-field bleachers to give the Angels a 2-0 lead.
Though Carrera would respond with a lead-off homer in the bottom half of the inning, the Blue Jays and Valdez unravelled in a messy third. Infielder Kaleb Cowart led off with a triple past Carrera’s outstretched hand in right field, former Blue Jay Yunel Escobar followed with a double off the left-field wall, Trout walked and Pujols singled to give the Angels a 4-1 lead.
With runners on the corners and no outs, Kole Calhoun grounded softly to Refsnyder, but the 26-year-old — making his first start for Toronto — threw wide to load the bases. Andrelton Simmons then doubled to left to score two runs and end Valdez’s afternoon, and Ben Revere added an RBI single off reliever Aaron Loup to give the Angels a 7-1 lead.
Toronto again answered quickly. In the bottom of the third, singles from Carrera, Martin and Smoak and a sacrifice fly from Morales cut the lead to 7-3. Pearce clubbed a double to centre — missing a home run by a few feet — before a Miguel Montero groundout made it 7-4.
Still, the Angels kept coming, adding runs in the fifth — when Revere reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, took third on a Montero throwing error, and finally sprinted home on a shallow Martin Maldonado sacrifice fly — and the sixth, when Pujols hit his 16th homer of the season, to make it 9-4. Luis Valbuena would add a sacrifice fly in the ninth to give Los Angeles a 10-4 lead.
The win gave Toronto some welcome good news. Before the game, the Blue Jays announced that veteran shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has ligament damage in his right ankle and will need further evaluation.
NOTES: Attendance at Rogers Centre was a sell out of 46, 852. … The Blue Jays open a three-game series against the White Sox in Chicago on Monday. … Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson both had the day off.