DENVER (AP) — Pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk’s three-run double keyed a five-run seventh inning and the Toronto Blue Jays hit three homers in a 13-9 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
Danny Jansen, Brandon Belt and Ernie Clement went deep for the Blue Jays, who have won four of six to move within 1 1/2 games of slumping Texas for the final AL wild card. Jansen exited later with a broken finger.
Toronto had 17 hits and improved to 3-10 at Coors Field in its first trip to Colorado since 2019. George Springer and Whit Merrifield each had three hits, and Clement finished with three RBIs.
“Standard issue,” Springer said about playing in Denver. “No lead is safe. Anybody can score a lot of runs at any time, and that's not because of the arms on either team. You are never out of the game. You have to assume the other team is going to score runs. You have to assume there is an awkward spot in there, where there is a three- or four-run spot. Obviously, things got interesting there tonight.”
Colorado scored four times in the ninth off Chad Green, making his Blue Jays debut and his first major league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2022. Jordan Romano got the final out.
Jansen’s two-run homer broke a 2-all tie in the sixth inning before Nolan Jones’ three-run homer off reliever Genesis Cabrera (3-1) put Colorado back in front 5-4 in the bottom of the inning. Jones has 14 homers in 78 games.
“Nolan gave us a chance,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
Kevin Kiermaier and Springer singled to open the seventh against Jake Bird (2-2) before Davis Schneider doubled off the center-field fence to tie it at 5. Belt walked with one out and Kirk, batting for Jansen, doubled into the left-field corner for an 8-5 lead.
Kirk has doubled in four straight games, a career first.
Jansen was struck by a foul ball in the sixth. Initial X-rays showed a fractured right middle finger, and the catcher was to undergo further testing.
Merrifield doubled in Kirk for a 9-5 lead, and four Blue Jays relievers closed it out.
“It was just kind of passing the baton to the next guy,” manager John Schneider said. “We talked about it before the game. No lead is really safe, so you have to keep adding on. It always seems to get a little dicey here, but the at-bats were really, really, really good. Getting the job done with men on base. It's something we have talked about all year."
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doubled home a run in the eighth and Clement had a two-run triple in a three-run ninth.
Toronto starter Hyun-Jin Ryu gave up a two-run homer to Elehuris Montero in the third. Ryu lasted five innings in his sixth start since missing the first four months of the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Belt opened the fourth with his 24th homer at Coors Field, after spending his first 12 seasons with division-rival San Francisco. Clement’s homer tied it at 2 in the fifth.
Colorado starter Chris Flexen has given up 22 homers in 78 1/3 innings this season.
The Blue Jays began a stretch of nine straight games against the three teams with the worst records in majors. After a three-game series at Coors Field, they play three-game sets at Oakland and at home against Kansas City.
“We’ve been telling the guys don’t look at record, it’s major league baseball,” John Schneider said. “On paper it looks pretty enticing, but you have to really take it one game at a time.”
BACK IN THE BIGS
Green was activated from the 60-day injured list before the game. He spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Yankees, going 33-22 with a 3.17 ERA, and was in the playoffs every year from 2017-21.
“It’s always the most exciting time of the year,” Green said. “Anytime you get to play important games in September, it’s something I’m thankful to be a part of. A chance to do something special.”
Blue Jays: SS Bo Bichette (right quad strain) did running drills, hit in the cage and took grounders before the game. “The fact that he is hitting without any pain is really good,” John Schneider said. “He has a tendency to respond pretty well from injuries.” … 3B Matt Chapman (sprained finger) did early work on the field. … 1B/OF Spencer Horwitz was added when rosters expanded Friday.
Rockies: LHP Austin Gomber (back soreness) will not make his scheduled start Sunday but should return to the mound on the road trip next week, Black said. RHP Chase Anderson (shoulder) is a candidate to be activated from the IL and start Sunday. He has been out since July 22 … RHP Tyler Kinley (elbow) and OF Sean Bouchard (biceps) were activated when rosters expanded.
Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (9-4, 3.63 ERA) is scheduled to face Rockies LHP Ty Blach (1-1, 3.94) on Saturday. Kikuchi has reached a career high in wins and with 146 strikeouts is 18 short of another career best. He is 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his last eight starts.
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