TORONTO -- Munenori Kawasaki
is a short-term solution for the Toronto Blue Jays at shortstop and they are glad to have him.
The 31-year-old from Kagoshima, Japan, has endeared himself to teammates and fans alike since he was called up from Triple-A Buffalo after Jose Reyes suffered a sprained left ankle on April 12.
"We knew very little about him but he's done a tremendous job for us," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I don't know where we'd be without him, to tell the truth."
That surely was the case Sunday when Kawasaki hit the game-winning, two-run double into the gap in left center to cap a four-run ninth as the Blue Jays came back to defeat the Baltimore Orioles
Kawasaki finished the day with three hits and three runs batted before a crowd of 28,502 at Rogers Centre and the Blue Jays (21-29) came away with a split in their four-game series with the Orioles (27-23).
The rally came against Orioles closer Jim Johnson
(2-5) who blew his fourth save in his past five opportunities. Matt Wieters
had extended the Orioles lead to 5-2 in the top of the ninth with a two-run double against Steve Delabar (4-1).
"It's a tough loss," said Wieters, who had four hits and three RBIs. "You would ultimately like to win this series but we'll move on and get to Washington (for the opener of a four-game series Monday) and forget it on the plane. But that was a game, it's a good hitting team and at any time they can put some hits together."
Adam Jones had three hits and hit a home run for the fourth successive game for the Orioles as he stretched his hit streak against the Blue Jays to 16 games dating back to last August.
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez stood to win after allowing one run and four hits while striking out a season-best seven in 5 2/3 innings. But now he is still looking for his first win since April 23.
"(Johnson) made a lot of good pitches," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He just kind of painted himself in a corner there and we just couldn't get it done."
Kawasaki is a character in the clubhouse and carries a small book with him that has translations of baseball clichés. He also has a sense of fun and it did not desert him in his biggest moment as a major-leaguer.
When asked how it felt to get the game-winning hit Kawasaki deadpanned in English, "It was boring...okay let's go Japanese only please."
The score was 5-4 when Kawasaki came to bat in the ninth with two runners on and he worked the count to 3-2 before slicing the drive into the gap in left center.
"My teammates gave me an opportunity," he said. "I wanted to do something about it."
Asked about his emotions as he was about to be mobbed by teammates, he said, "I don't remember."
Then he said, "Really happy."
Edwin Encarnacion doubled and Adam Lind
singled to open the bottom of the ninth.
J.P. Arencibia singled to right, his third hit of the game, to score Encarnacion and move Lind to third. Anthony Gose
walked with one out to load the bases. Mark DeRosa's grounder to shortstop forced Gose at second but scored a run to cut the lead to 5-4. The Kawasaki scored Arencibia and DeRosa with the gapper.
"He hit it in the right spot with DeRosa running," Gibbons said.
Blue Jays starter Chad Jenkins allowed eight hits in his five innings but was able to limit the damage to two runs.
It was the right-hander's first start in two weeks when he earned a win over the Boston Red Sox
after being promoted from Double-A New Hampshire.
He was in the dugout for the winning rally.
"That was awesome," Jenkins said. "Very exciting, and couldn't happen to a better person. Kawasaki is a great guy. He's one of a kind in a good way."
"They had some good at bats and I made some good pitches," Johnson said. "They hit some balls well that I thought were some pretty good pitches. And the walks, extra-pitches, no-so-good pitches, that's not the way we want it to happen. We should be getting on the plane with three wins here, but I can't hang my head too long. It's going to hurt for a little bit, and it should. We've got to get ready to play again tomorrow"
Wieters with a double and Danny Valencia with a groundout drove in second-inning runs for the Orioles scoring Chris Davis who doubled and J.J. Hardy who singled.
Lind singled, Arencibia doubled and Brett Lawrie hit a sacrifice fly to center to cut Baltimore's lead to 2-1. Jones increased the lead to 3-1 with his 10th homer of the season with one out in the seventh against left-hander Aaron Loup
Arencibia singled and Hunter hit Lawrie with a pitch to start the Blue Jays' eighth. Gose struck out but pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus walked to load the bases. One run scored when Kawasaki lined a single off the glove of second baseman Alexi Casilla.
NOTES: Gose who was called up from Triple-A Buffalo on May 20 got the start in center field in place of Rasmus on Sunday. ... Markakis extended his hit streak to 11 games with an infield single in the first inning and a single in the fifth. ... The Blue Jays conclude their nine-game home stand with two games against the Atlanta Braves
starting Monday when left-hander Mark Buehrle (1-3, 5.90 ERA) will face right-hander Tim Hudson (4-3, 4.98). ... The Orioles visit the Washington Nationals
for a four-game series starting Monday and will start right-hander Jason Hammel (6-2, 5.37 ERA) against left-hander Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 3.66).
- Sports & Recreation
- Munenori Kawasaki
- Baltimore Orioles
- Matt Wieters