Toronto came back from deficits twice in the game to defeat Seattle, 5-4, in 10 innings at Rogers Centre. In the most dramatic of fashions, the Jays rallied to win the game in their last at-bat on a walk-off single from second baseman Joe Inglett.
With the Jays trailing the Mariners, 4-3, Inglett came to bat in the 10th with two out and the bases loaded. What followed was a heart-stopping play in right field that eventually brought the home crowd to its feet.
Inglett lifted a pitch from Mariners reliever Mark Lowe deep to right field. The ball sent Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki racing back, as Inglett's shot was clearly over the right fielder's head. Ichiro leaped and had the ball deflect off his glove and onto the ground, effectively allowing the tying and winning runs to score, and giving the Jays (52-51) their fourth straight win.
Had the ball been two inches in the other direction, it would have landed in Suzuki's glove and ended the game, wrapping up a victory for Seattle (38-64).
As soon as the ball left his bat, Inglett only had one thing on his mind.
"Get up, ball, that's pretty much what I was thinking," he said. "Get up, get up, get up."
Jays manager Cito Gaston was grateful for the win, knowing that it could have easily been a loss, give or take a few inches on the final play.
"You're talking about one of the best right fielders in baseball," he said of Ichiro. "And the ball was hit hard and it carried a bit farther than he thought it was going to carry. Normally you would expect him to catch that ball, but I'm happy he didn't."
Ichiro's do-or-die play seemed a fitting end, as it was a microcosm of the entire game. Friday's affair really could have gone to either team.
In the top half of the 10th inning, Jays reliever Jesse Carlson (3-1) allowed the Mariners to take a 4-3 lead when he surrendered an RBI single to center fielder Jeremy Reed. Yet, the Jays were able to make a winner out of Carlson with Inglett's hit in the bottom of the frame.
The Jays had trailed the Mariners for most of Friday's affair as they were stifled by Seattle starter Miguel Batista and a handful of relievers. But in the eighth inning, down by a score of 3-2, Toronto staged its first comeback of the night when Matt Stairs was able to tie the game with an RBI single to right field.
Stairs, who has been struggling lately, also notched a solo home run earlier in the game and finished the day 3-for-4, falling just a triple short of the cycle.
"It was great because I know he's been feeling down, too," Gaston said of Stairs. "And it was nice to see him hit the ball hard tonight."
Entering Friday, Stairs had hit just .182 (24-for-132) over his last 43 games dating back to May 20.
"It's been a while since I contributed, that's for sure," Stairs said. "Today was just one of those days where I just ended up getting aggressive with the pitches and got the barrel [of the bat] out. It was nice to contribute."
Another important positive to take from Friday's game was that the Jays were able to stay above the .500 mark with the win. Toronto had worked hard in recent weeks to build its record back to the break-even mark, and it was certainly gratifying for the manager that his team did not let that progress recede on Friday.
The Jays are now one game above .500 for the first time since June 13, when they were 35-34.
"That was a big win for us -- we'll see if we can go two above .500 tomorrow and just keep rolling," Gaston said. "You get a little breathing room [being one game over .500]. Tomorrow, we'd like to win one and go up two. Then, we get up to five, see 10 and see what happens from there."
Gaston also took pride in the fact that the Toronto offense was able to keep pressure on the Mariners all night. The Jays could not convert on many offensive opportunities on the night, going 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position, though they were still able to find a way to win.
"They're playing hard," said Gaston. "They're trying. Today we kept getting guys on and kept putting the heat on them and it finally paid off."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less