TORONTO -- At first, David Purcey was not sure why Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina presented him with the baseball used to retire the final out of Monday's 9-5 victory over the Orioles. The big lefty thought the four-run lead negated his first career save.
Purcey was thrilled to be wrong.
"It was nice," Purcey said. "I didn't even know it was happening."
Purcey entered the game with runners on the corners and two outs in the eighth inning, when the Jays were clinging to an 8-5 lead. He escaped that jam unscathed and -- after Toronto added an insurance run in the home half of the frame -- Purcey turned in a clean ninth inning to pick up the save.
The road to Purcey's first career save was paved by circumstance. Due to a doubleheader on Sunday in Detroit, the Blue Jays only had Purcey and right-hander Casey Janssen available out of the bullpen, barring extra innings. Even so, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston believes Purcey could one day have a home as a late-inning reliever.
"Yeah, I think so," Gaston said on Tuesday. "He's growing into it. I think yesterday was good for him because it was an intense situation. He did a good job with it. Every time he goes out there, I'm excited to see what he's going to do. So far, he hasn't let us down. He's done a good job.
"He's a different kid in the clubhouse. I think he feels more like he belongs here now."
This is the first season that Purcey has worked as a reliever for Toronto. The 6-foot-4 southpaw went 4-9 with a 5.81 ERA in 21 starts between the 2008-09 seasons for the club, but a surplus of young arms pushed Purcey to the 'pen this year. In 18 relief outings, all he has done is post a 1.74 ERA with a .176 opponents' batting average.
Purcey has been enjoying his new role.
"It's kind of fun," the lefty said with a smile. "People are always yelling at you, but I've heard people yelling since college. The more personal they get, the more I focus in."