KANSAS CITY - After turning their first triple play in more than 32 years, the Blue Jays didn't want to waste it on a loss.
With some timely help from a shaky Kansas City Royals bullpen, the Jays erupted for three runs in the eighth inning to pull out a 4-3 victory and send the Royals to their eighth consecutive defeat.
J.P. Arencibia, who came into the game batting .111, provided a couple of key singles, driving in Toronto's first two runs to help make a winner of reliever Luis Perez.
"It kept us on the edge of our seats for a while," said manager John Farrell.
The Royals got one run in the ninth against closer Sergio Santos but he stranded the tying run at second base.
Kyle Drabek, after two strong starts, was a bit wobbly Friday but still managed to keep it a one-run game, leaving in the sixth inning after allowing four hits and six walks.
"Every time I seemed to get in trouble, the defence had my back," said Drabek.
Perez held it all together until the Jays came alive in the top of the eighth when their first five batters reached base.
Arencibia's second single of the game scored Colby Rasmus, who led off with a double and then after walks filled the bases, Jose Bautista's single gave Toronto the lead. Later, Johnson scored on Edwin Encarnacion's sacrifice fly.
"Colby's double really set things up because if that's just a base hit, we're probably going to bunt J.P. but with a man at second and nobody out, we let some guys swing and J.P. got a big base hit," said Farrell.
"Our bullpen did a good job. They put some pressure on Santos in the ninth but this was a good win for us."
Crucial to the game remaining close was Toronto's third-inning triple play, accomplished as Kansas City threatened to blow the game open.
After giving up a solo home run to Mike Moustakas in the second inning, Drabek looked as if he might be coming unglued in the third when fate threw him a lifeline.
Alex Gordon led off with a double and Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a four-pitch walk. Eric Hosmer worked the count to 2-2, then ripped a screaming liner right at Adam Lind. Lind made the catch, touched the bag at first to double up Betancourt, then threw on to shortstop Yunel Escobar covering second to get Gordon.
"It was the first one I've ever seen and it was real fun for me to see it," said Drabek. "I was just real confused about what was happening."
"In 11 pitches we go from first and second, nobody out to being out of the inning," said Farrell.
It was Toronto's first triple play since Dave McKay, Craig Kusick and Alfredo Griffin combined for one on a liner hit by then-Yankee Damaso Garcia at CNE Stadium on Sept. 21, 1979.
In the top of the first inning, Royals starter Luke Hochevar got some payback when he plunked Jose Bautista with nobody on and two outs.
Last Aug. 24, in the fourth inning of a game at Toronto, Hochevar buzzed Bautista with a fastball. Bautista picked himself up and hit a third-deck home run, then stared down Hochevar before he ran the bases.
Friday night, with a 2-1 count, Hochevar nailed Bautista with a pitch, presumably closing the ledger on their account.
Hutch Has Arrived
For so many pro ball players, the clock on their apprenticeship winds with agonizing inertia. Then there comes along a kid like Drew Hutchison who gets it right from the start and rockets through the minors.
Saturday night, having barely gotten his feet wet at Double A, Hutchison will make his first major-league start for the Blue Jays against the Royals.
"It still hasn't really sunk in yet but I'm just thankful for the opportunity," said Hutchison Friday.
While Hutchison's rapid rise to the top of a pyramid that is often only climbed in tiny increments is unusual, few would question his readiness.
"Even though he's got only six total starts above A ball, it speaks volumes to the fact that we're confident enough to bring him to the major-league level with just a short double A experience under his belt," said Farrell.
"I'm just going to go out there and try to compete, get as deep into the game as I can, just like any other game," said Hutchison. "Sure, it's a little different but I think after the first pitch, it'll be 'Let's get down to business.' "
Hutchison doesn't know any other way.