Lawrie lifts Jays to 11th inning victory

Toronto Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie acknowledges cheering crowds after he hit a walk off home run to...

Toronto Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie acknowledges cheering crowds after he hit a walk off home run to beat the Boston Red Sox. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

TORONTO - Does Brett Lawrie find the moment, or does the moment find him?

Players become stars by rising up in big situations and in one short month Lawrie seems to have done it all in spades.

Having hit grand slams and game-winning home runs, next on his to-do list was a game-winning walk-off home run.

On Monday’s Labour Day matinee that stretched into a labour of love, Lawrie ticked that highlight off the list when with two out in the 11th, he connected on a 1-1 pitch from Dan Wheeler and lofted a shot into the seats in centre for the deciding blow in a 1-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

The 11-inning game took 3:51 to play.

In one short month — Lawrie’s first big-league game occurred Aug. 5 — the native of Langley B.C. has grabbed the game by its throat and shook hard as in that time he has hit eight home runs, driven in 21 runs while hitting .318.

“It was just one of those things where I was trying to get on base and allow some guys behind me to do some damage and if anything went into the gap I was going to try and score,” Lawrie said. “I was trying to get on base and I got luckily enough I got a pitch I could handle.”

As Lawrie rounded third base he flipped his batting helmet high into the air and then made a dramatic leap on to home plate and into the pile of his teammates that mobbed him as his foot came down.

What was the feeling like?

“It’s very, very hard to explain,” he said of the walk-off shot. “It’s the first one of my career and my head’s still going a mile a minute. It’s one of those things that’s very cool and I’ll treasure it forever.”

Manager John Farrell was back to enjoy Lawrie’s blast having emerged victorious in his bout with pneumonia. He’s missed the past 10 games but this was clearly worth the wait.

Farrell has been around baseball his whole life but what Lawrie is doing he knows is something special.

“You’re never out of a game if you’re tied or close with him at the plate,” Farrell said of his young third baseman. “What he’s doing since he’s been up here, in one month’s time, what a splash and what a start to a big-league career.

Farrell has been impressed by every aspect of his play, both at the plate and in the field.

“This has been a reoccurring theme here, he’s had some very big hits late in games in a one month time,” Farrell said.

COMEBACK KIDS

If comebacks are your thing, there were a couple of doozies Monday.

First off, Farrell returned following a 10-game absence.

Farrell’s return, however, pales to that of right-hander Dustin McGowan, who has not been in a Jays uniform at the big-league level since July of 2008.

Since he picked up a no-decision in a July 8 start against the Orioles in 2008, McGowan has had two shoulder surgeries — right labrum surgery that knocked out his 2009 season and rotator cuff surgery performed in June of 2010. Just to add another dose of misery to the overall package, while recovering from the shoulder surgery in 2009 he required knee surgery in July.

But Monday afternoon there was McGowan bouncing out of the dugout. Given all he has gone through, you’d think he would have been performing cartwheels, but that is not the style of the soft-spoken native of Savannah, Ga.

“It feels great. It’s been over three years,” McGowan said. “It feels like 10 but I’m here now and it’s time to get going.”

The Jays said that McGowan, who was rehabbing as a starter, will spend the rest of the season in the bullpen. The comeback, he said, was a long, hard grind.

“Mentally I think it was the hardest part,” he said. “I think I knew at some point I’d get back but it was all in my mind, how long is it going to take? You had your good and bad days and those bad days just made it seem like you might never get it back but you had your good days and that gives you a little bit of confidence. It took its toll on me mentally but I hung in there.”

GAME STUFF

The Jays had runners on the corners with two out in the first thanks to Mike McCoy’s leadoff single and subsequent steal of third, but the Jays couldn’t punch a run across as Edwin Encarnacion chased a breaking ball out of the zone while striking out to end the inning ... The Jays had a runner at third the next inning as well but couldn’t score as Dewayne Wise struck out swinging ... In the top of the third, the Red Sox threatened with two out and runners on second and third. Henderson Alvarez got out of the inning unscathed as he induced Dustin Pedroia to ground to third for a 5-3 out ... The Jays pulled off quite the double dip in the fifth after Marco Scutaro doubled with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a one-hop bullet that Alvarez scooped. Scutaro fell putting the brakes on and was a dead duck and was caught in a rundown, being tagged out by Lawrie. Ellsbury attempted to advance into scoring position but Lawrie alertly threw to Kelly Johnson at second who made the tag for the innings final out ... Boston starter Josh Beckett, who entered the game 12-5 on the season, was forced to leave the game with two out and one on and a 2-2 count Lawrie as he sprained his right ankle on his delivery ... He was replaced by right-hander Alfredo Aceves who supplied yeoman service as he blanked the Jays on one hit over 3 2/3 innings.

 

 

 


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