Veteran is only third player to hit 2 walk-off grand slams in same season, and he did it 4 days apart
By Keegan Matheson
TORONTO -- Blue Jays outfielder Steve Pearce did his best Steve Pearce impersonation on Sunday afternoon, shaking the Rogers Centre with his second walk-off grand slam in four days and electrifying the fans who hoped against hope by sticking around for the bottom of the ninth.
Pearce became one of just three players in the history of Major League Baseball to hit two walk-off grand slams in the same season. He joins his former hitting coach, Jim Presley, who did it in 1986, and Cy Williams, who did it the same season that Rogers Hornsby's Cardinals beat Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series.
The walk-off on Sunday afternoon capped the Blue Jays' biggest ninth-inning comeback in franchise history, storming back from a six-run deficit for the 11-10 win over the Angels.
"It's like winning the lottery to just be up in that situation," said Kevin Pillar, who got the comeback rolling with a two-run home run. "It's hard enough to get up there with the bases loaded. To be up there two times within four days with a chance to win the game is unbelievable and even more so to hit grand slams two times in a week."
On Thursday, Pearce did the exact same thing to the Athletics to cap an 8-4 win and series sweep. That one was a little tighter down the left-field line, leaving Pearce to twist and turn his body as he coaxed it around the pole, but that wasn't on Pearce's mind when he stepped in against former teammate Bud Norris in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday.
"It's, 'What have you done for me lately?'" Pearce said after the celebrations died down. "You've got to go up there and attack that at-bat. I went up there and just looked for my pitch. He missed a couple pitches pretty bad early, so I was able to sit on my pitch and unload on it."
Presley was the last to walk off two games with grand slams, pulling it off for the Mariners in 1986. Presley went on to be the hitting coach for the Orioles from 2011-14, meaning that Pearce was under his tutelage for three seasons that included his breakout 2014 campaign.
Presley's first walk-off slam that season came against the Angels, too, but they were still known as the California Angels at the time. His second of the season came against the Red Sox on July 17 off Bob Stanley, who is now a pitching coach in the Blue Jays' organization with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
"It feels great. It really hasn't sunk in," Pearce said after the game. "I was told right before this interview, so it's nice to be a part of it with him."
Williams' first walk-off slam in 1926 came against the Boston Braves with his second coming against the Brooklyn Robins. Both flew out of the Baker Bowl, the Phillies' unique home at the time.
Shoehorned into a single city block in Philadelphia, the Baker Bowl made the geography work with a right-field fence just 280 feet from home plate but a whopping 60 feet high. That's 23 feet higher than Fenway Park's Green Monster.
In recent context, Albert Pujols hit walk-off home runs -- but not grand slams -- on back-to-back days in 2011 for the Cardinals. Matt Kemp, Brian Dozier and Paul Goldschmidt have hit two walk-off homers in five days since then, but not in four like Pearce.
In Blue Jays history, Jesse Barfield, Joe Carter, Jose Cruz, Eric Hinske and Kendrys Morales have walked off two games with a home run in the same season. Josh Donaldson did it three times in 2015.
The unforgettable feats have helped push Pearce's OPS back up to .781, and with his 10th home run of the season, the left fielder has been kickstarting a lineup -- and fan base -- that could use something to cheer about.
"The crowd started to get into it," Pearce said. "When they started to get into it, and probably [Russell Martin's] at-bat, the chopper ... when it gets past the third baseman and that's a hit, and [Ezequiel Carrera] had a great at-bat, it was just a great inning for everybody."
Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.