The table was set for Blue Jays third baseman Troy Glaus, the epitome of what has happened to Toronto this season. The 30-year-old slugger had missed the two previous games because of bone spurs in his left foot. It's the same injury that caused Glaus to be placed on the 15-day disabled list and miss 14 games earlier this season.
There was talk earlier in the week that he would likely need another stint on the DL before being able to return to the field. There he was, though, walking to the plate in the bottom of the eighth in a tied ballgame. After taking the first pitch from Orioles reliever Danys Baez (0-2), Glaus crushed the second offering into the left-field seats to secure a 5-3 victory for the Jays on Monday night at Rogers Centre.
Jays manager John Gibbons credits Glaus for the presence he brings to Toronto's batting lineup.
"Troy's been one of the marquee hitters in this game for a number of years," Gibbons said. "He always produces runs. It's a big hole in our lineup when he's not there."
This is the second time Glaus has had to make a triumphant return from the bone spurs in his left foot. Every time this season that Glaus comes back from the injury, it seems like he doesn't miss a beat. After being activated from the DL on April 28, Glaus proceeded to hit .400 (12-for-30) with four home runs and nine RBIs over his next nine games. He earned American League Player of the Week honors on May 6, for his performance in seven of those nine. Glaus said after the game on Monday that it's tough to stay sharp while being out with an injury, but there are things that can be done to keep a player sharp.
"You can't do anything to simulate the game," Glaus said. "But if you put enough [hitting] cage time in, hopefully that will maintain the swing you left with."
While Glaus was able to avoid a stint on the DL this time around, it's likely that his left foot will remain a problem throughout the season. The only way to treat this type of injury is by rest, and with the Jays still just 37 games into a 162-game schedule, that isn't an option right now.
"There's really nothing we can do," Gibbons said. "Just keep that thing padded up and treat it. It's probably not going to go away, but he can rest it in the offseason. Just grim and bear it [for now] I guess."
The Jays fell behind 3-0 early in the game, when Toronto starter Tomo Ohka (2-4) served up home runs to Orioles designated hiter Jay Gibbons and left fielder Nick Markakis. The two home runs Ohka allowed puts him in a tie with Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano for the second-most given up in the Major Leagues. Those were the only three runs Ohka would allow in five innings of work.
After scoring two runs in the third inning, the Jays (16-22) tied the game in the sixth, on an RBI single by Glaus off Orioles starter Erik Bedard. Bedard grew up in Navan, Ontario, and looked impressive in his return to Canada. He allowed three runs on six hits while striking out seven over seven innings.
Unlike the Jays, the Orioles (18-21) were unable to get anything going against their opponent's bullpen. Relievers Scott Downs, Casey Janssen, and Jeremy Accardo combined to throw four shutout innings for Toronto. The trio have held opposing teams to just five earned runs over 51 innings of work this season.
Accardo has been a pleasant surprise for the Jays this season. He was officially named Toronto's new closer on Saturday afternoon, and doesn't appear to be the least bit intimidated by the new role. He looked cool and composed during the ninth inning of Monday's game, even after allowing a runner to reach base. Accardo says he won't change his approach just because his role is a little bit different.
"I've learned if you get a littlle too amped up you start doing things different than you normally would," Accardo said. "So, I try and stay as even calm as I can."
With Accardo firing on all cylinders, and the return of Glaus, things look like they might be starting to turn around for the Jays. At least, that's what Glaus is hoping for.
"I want to play everyday; that's kind of how I'm wired," Glaus said. "Unfortunately, this year I haven't been able to do that. But hopefully, from here on out I can get out there as often as I possibly can."
Following the game the Jays designated infielder Jason Smith for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for tomorrow's starting pitcher, Jesse Litsch.
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.