More than halfway through the season, Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen finally went deep at home.
He couldn’t have picked a better moment.
Jansen hit a game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, Cavan Biggio launched his first career grand slam and Toronto beat the Kansas City Royals 7-5 Saturday after starter Marcus Stroman exited early with a cramp in his non-pitching shoulder.
Jansen’s fourth home run of the season was his first game-ending shot at any level.
“There’s no better feeling,” Jansen said. “That was the first time I’ve ever done that in my life. It was pretty awesome.”
Toronto won in its final at-bat for the fourth time, while the Royals lost in their opponent’s last turn for the fifth time.
Jansen’s three previous homers this season all came on the road. He connected twice against the White Sox in May and went deep at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added a solo home run for the Blue Jays, who recovered after blowing a one-run lead in the top of the ninth.
With closer Ken Giles unavailable after finishing Friday’s game, Toronto gave right-hander Daniel Hudson (5-2) his third save opportunity of the season.
Billy Hamilton led off with a single, Whit Merrifield walked and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt before Alex Gordon tied it with a sacrifice fly. The blown save was Hudson’s second.
Giles rejoined the Blue Jays on June 19 after missing 10 games because of a sore elbow. He has yet to pitch on consecutive days since his return.
Randal Grichuk drew a leadoff walk against right-hander Scott Barlow (2-3) in the bottom half. One out later, Jansen lined a two-run homer to left field, his fourth.
Stroman left two pitches into the fifth with a cramp in his left pectoral muscle, just below the shoulder.
Guerrero homered in the third and fellow rookie Biggio hit a go-ahead slam in the fifth for his sixth home run. Guerrero’s homer, his eighth, was his first since June 5, snapping an 18-game drought.
Both drives came off right-hander Homer Bailey, who was making his first career start against the Blue Jays.
A 12-year National League veteran, Bailey faced both Craig Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. earlier in his career, allowing just one hit in six at-bats to the two Hall of Famers.
Stopping their sons proved more difficult.
Bailey is from La Grange, Texas, about 100 miles west of Houston. He grew up rooting for the Astros and was a big fan of the elder Biggio.
“I think he’s still the only opponent I’ve ever sent over a ball,” Bailey said about once requesting an autograph from Biggio. “It was really close to one of my best friend’s birthdays and it was his favorite player growing up.”
The younger Biggio said he didn’t ask his dad for a scouting report on Bailey.
“I think he was throwing a lot harder back then,” Cavan Biggio said. “I didn’t think it would be accurate.”
Bailey came in having won three straight starts but couldn’t extend his streak. He allowed five runs and five hits in five innings.
Stroman motioned to the dugout after missing high to Whit Merrifield in the fifth. Toronto trainer Nicky Huffman and manager Charlie Montoyo came to the mound and, following a brief discussion, Stroman walked off and went straight to the clubhouse.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I’m going to be back out there. I’m a warrior, I’m a dog, always. I’ll be back out there.”
Stroman allowed three runs and four hits in four-plus innings. The right-hander was replaced by Sam Gaviglio.
Stroman is 5-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 18 starts and is expected to be traded to a contender before the July 31 deadline. He’s eligible for arbitration for the final time next year and can become a free agent following the 2020 season.
Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had his second straight multihomer game in Friday’s 6-2 win but was unable to prolong his power surge another day. Gurriel went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk.
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis (left knee surgery) has resumed light baseball activity. … RHP Clay Buchholz (right elbow) has been throwing at 90 feet and will progress to long toss. … OF Dalton Pompey (concussion) could begin a minor league rehab assignment next week.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
The Blue Jays won for the first time in eight games with the roof open at Rogers Centre.
TURNING IT AROUND
Jansen has seven hits in his past 17 at-bats after going hitless in the previous 17.
Royals: RHP Brad Keller (3-9, 4.32 ERA) is winless in his past six starts. He’s 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA in four career games against Toronto.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (3-10, 5.89) has lost nine straight decisions. He hasn’t faced the Royals since 2016.
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