TORONTO (AP) — Luke Maile is getting more playing time and starting to show up in big situations.
Starting the second game of a rare doubleheader at Rogers Centre in place of Russell Martin, the Blue Jays’ backup catcher singled down the right-field line with the bases loaded in the 10th inning, giving Toronto a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
The Blue Jays won the opener 11-3 and have now swept all three doubleheaders at their retractable-roof stadium, which opened in 1989.
Manager John Gibbons is playing Maile every third game this season in an effort to keep Martin healthy, and he was thrilled to see the backup come through.
“That’s big for him because he does everything great behind the plate, and now he’s not only getting hits, he’s getting big hits,” Gibbons said.
Maile lined the second pitch he saw from Brian Flynn (0-1) down the right field line, driving in his third run of the game and handing the Royals their seventh straight loss. He has seven RBIs this season, equaling last year’s total.
“I’ve only got 300 or so at-bats in the big leagues, so I don’t have a ton of experience with it,” Maile said. “I feel like I’ve got a lot of experience behind the plate, but at it in big situations I haven’t had a ton.”
Tyler Clippard (2-0) worked a scoreless 10th for his 50th career victory.
Kansas City starter Danny Duffy allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, striking out eight in his longest outing of the season, before Toronto rallied off Kansas City’s bullpen.
After Justin Grimm walked the bases loaded to open the seventh, Maile drove a pitch from Brad Keller down the right-field line to score two runs. Pinch-hitter Devon Travis tied the game at 3 with an infield single, a grounder that third baseman Mike Moustakas couldn’t get out of his glove in time.
Steve Pearce singled up the middle to score Maile and put the Blue Jays ahead.
Duffy was in no mood to cast blame on his teammates.
“We’ve got the utmost confidence in the guy coming out of the ‘pen, and nine times out of 10 Grimm’s going to get that done,” the left-hander said.
The Royals tied it on Alcides Escobar’s homer in the eighth, his first this season.
Making his first start of the season, Joe Biagini allowed three runs on six hits, striking out four, in 5 2/3 innings. He plunked Lucas Duda to force in a run in the first. Biagini last pitched on April 9 for Triple-A Buffalo.
“It’s fun to pitch in the major leagues,” he said. “It’s a pretty cool thing and it was fun to see us come back and score a couple of runs and make something out of it.”
Abraham Almonte homered in the sixth, the first home run this season from a Royals player other than Moustakas or Duda.
In the first game, Yangervis Solarte homered and drove in four runs and Grichuk went deep for the second time this season.
Solarte’s third homer of the season was a two-run shot off Erik Skoglund (0-2) into the second deck in the first inning.
Jaime Garcia (2-0) allowed back-to-back homers by Moustakas and Duda in the third. He gave up three runs on eight hits in five innings, walking one and striking out five.
Blue Jays: Martin and Travis started the opener but sat out the nightcap, the only two changes Toronto made to its lineup. … DH Kendrys Morales (right hamstring) is not expected to require a rehab assignment before rejoining the team. Morales went on the disabled list April 10.
The Blue Jays were rained out twice in Cleveland over the weekend and then faced the first streak of three consecutive postponements in franchise history after chunks of ice fell from the adjacent CN Tower, puncturing several holes in the Rogers Centre roof. The biggest hole, over right field, was roughly 3 feet by 5 feet.
Roads, sidewalks and entrance gates on the east side of the stadium, next to the tower, remained cordoned off Tuesday, forcing detours for fans on foot. The tower itself and several nearby restaurants and attractions were also closed.
Kansas City was also the opponent for the only previous cancellation at Rogers Centre. That happened on April 12, 2001, after a collision between two panels of the stadium’s moving roof.
In the previous doubleheaders at the stadium formerly known as Skydome, Toronto swept the Los Angeles Angels on July 17, 1989, and the Cleveland Indians on Oct. 5, 2001.
Kansas City has two more doubleheaders scheduled this month — Saturday at Detroit and on April 28 against the Chicago White Sox.
Former Blue Jay Ryan Goins played his first game against his old team and was greeted with loud cheers.
“It kind of choked me up a little bit and caught me by surprise,” Goins said. “But it was awesome.”
Kansas City right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-1, 1.00 ERA) starts Wednesday’s series finale. He won his previous road start this season, at Cleveland on April 7. Toronto turns to left-hander J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.94), who was originally supposed to start Tuesday’s second game. He gets an extra day of rest after his last start, a 7-1 win at Baltimore on April 9.