TORONTO — Teoscar Hernández singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied to beat the Kansas City Royals 6-5 on Saturday.
“I just had that confidence that my teammates were going to put up some good at-bats, we were going to tie the game and win the ballgame,” Hernández said.
Royals designated hitter Vinnie Pasquantino hit a tie-breaking home run in the top of the 10th to put Kansas City up 5-3, but Toronto rallied in the bottom half against former Blue Jays reliever Joel Payamps (2-3).
After stepping out of the box and banging his bat in frustration over a strike two call that looked inside, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off the bottom of the 10th with a double, scoring automatic runner George Springer.
“In that moment it may have been a good thing for him,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of Guerrero’s obvious frustration.
Hernández said Guerrero’s double “kind of fired up the whole team.” Pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia followed it with a game-tying base hit to center.
Bo Bichette singled and Hernández grounded a base hit through the left side to score Tapia, who slid home with the winning run as the crowd of 40,135 erupted.
The Blue Jays are 21-14 in one-run games, the most one-run victories in the majors.
Toronto’s Jordan Romano (3-2) got the win despite allowing Pasquantino’s homer.
Guerrero had three hits and reached base four times.
Payamps, who pitched in 22 games for Toronto in 2021, didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced.
“I thought he just didn’t have his good stuff today,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said.
Hernández said his familiarity with Payamps proved helpful.
“I knew he was going to try to come in on me to try to get the double play,” Hernández said. “Later in the at-bat I knew he was going to throw a breaking ball, so I just tried to stay back as much as I could and tried to put the ball in play.”
Kansas City has lost 11 of its past 13 games in Toronto, where the Royals are playing short-handed this weekend. Kansas City, in last place in the AL Central, is without 10 players for this series because they are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Unvaccinated foreign nationals are not allowed to enter Canada, save for limited exceptions that require a 14-day quarantine.
When baseball players are unvaccinated and can’t travel to Canada, they’re placed on the restricted list, which means they are not paid and do not accrue major league service time.
The Royals are without All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi, two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield, future cornerstones Kyle Isbel and MJ Melendez, and outfielder Michael A. Taylor. Also barred were first baseman Hunter Dozier, right-handed starters Brad Keller and Brady Singer, reliever Dylan Coleman, and backup catcher Cam Gallagher.
Bobby Witt Jr.s RBI single gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead in the third, but the Blue Jays answered in the bottom half on Alejandro Kirk’s run-scoring single.
Ryan O’Hearn tripled home a run in the fourth and scored on Nate Eaton’s sacrifice fly. Again Toronto answered immediately, with Springer chasing Lynch and tying the score at 3-all with a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom half of the inning.
Jose Cuas came on and walked Guerrero, then retired Kirk on a groundout.
Matheny was ejected by home plate umpire John Bacon for arguing a batter’s interference call on Michael Massey that ended Kansas City’s sixth, stranding runners at first and second.
“I just think it’s a bad call at a very bad time in the game,” Matheny said. “It’s a judgment call so there’s nothing we can do about it, but it’s a shame. We’ve got Massey up, who’s already had a couple of nice hits. He gets us into a spot to do something and turn the tide of the game. I thought it was an unnecessary call. It looked like he was searching to make something happen. Unfortunately, that hurt us.”
Springer stayed in the game after flipping his bat over his shoulder when Bacon called him out on strikes to end the sixth. Blue Jays teammates and Schneider came out to keep Springer from getting ejected.
Making his second big league start, Blue Jays right-hander Max Castillo allowed three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Royals left-hander Daniel Lynch also pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed three runs and six hits.
SANTI’S STAR TURN
Blue Jays 2B Santiago Espinal was named to the AL All-Star team. He replaces Houston’s José Altuve, who was hit on the left knee by a pitch Thursday.
Royals: Kansas City recalled RHP Collin Snider from Triple-A Omaha and optioned RHP Carlos Hernández to Triple-A.
Blue Jays: Toronto recalled RHP Jeremy Beasley from Triple-A Buffalo and designated RHP Sergio Romo for assignment. Romo went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in six games with Toronto, his second team this season after being cut by Seattle June 20.
Toronto acquired Triple-A LHP Foster Griffin from Kansas City in exchange for Class-A RHP Jonatan Bernal. The Blue Jays added Griffin to their 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. The Royals assigned Bernal to Class-A Columbia.
Royals LHP Kris Bubic (1-6, 6.63) starts Sunday’s series finale against Blue Jays RHP José Berríos (7-4, 5.38). Berríos went 3-0 in three starts against the Royals last season.