Springer’s grand slam powers Blue Jays to victory over Cardinals, 7th straight win

Working to a full count with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, George Springer knew he had done something right when he connected with Junior Fernandez’s sinker.

Springer assumed he’d at least get an RBI single out of the squared-up hit, but it sailed 414 feet for his seventh career grand slam, lifting the Blue Jays over the St. Louis Cardinals 10-3 on Tuesday and extending Toronto’s win streak to seven.

“I just knew it was at least going to split the outfielders,” said Springer. “It’s exciting. It’s a big spot right there, to put us up by some more runs.

“That’s the stuff that you enjoy playing the game for. It’s a huge moment.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a two-run bomb in the first inning for Toronto (54-43) and Alejandro Kirk added a solo homer. Matt Chapman drove in two runs with singles.

The Blue Jays have scored 68 runs over their seven-game streak — heavily impacted by a 28-5 win in Boston on Friday — and Springer believes it’s because Toronto’s lineup has learned to relax.

“I think you’re starting to see us as a team not do too much,” said Springer. “Just spiral one at bat into the next and get guys over, get guys in, hit and running, stuff like that.”

Jose Berrios struck out seven and only allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and two walks. Relievers Tim Mayza, David Phelps (1-2), Max Castillo and Jeremy Beasley didn’t allow a run the rest of the game. Mayza earned the win, with Berrios getting a no decision.

“I was just trying to regroup myself, try to make quality pitches, and I did it,” said Berrios. “A few innings were a battle but at the same time I gave our team a chance to win.”

Dylan Carlson had a solo home run in the first inning and later added an RBI single for St. Louis (51-47). Cardinals starting pitcher Andre Pallante gave up seven hits but limited the Blue Jays to three runs, striking out four over four innings. Jordan Hicks, Fernandez and T.J. McFarland came on in relief for St. Louis, with Hicks (2-5) taking the loss after giving up four runs.

Surefire Hall of Famer Albert Pujols got a standing ovation from the 39,756 in attendance at Rogers Centre in his first at-bat. The 42-year-old Pujols spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Cardinals before doing a lengthy stint with the Los Angeles Angels and then moving over to the Dodgers for a year. When he re-signed with St. Louis in March he announced that 2022 would be his final season in Major League Baseball.

Guerrero put the Jays up 2-1 in the bottom of the first, driving in Springer with his 21st home run of the season. Chapman added to that lead five hitters later, with an RBI single scoring Bo Bichette to make it 3-1.

A series of St. Louis singles tied it 3-3 in the third. Carlson’s hit scored a run, then two batters later Pujols singled for another.

Toronto’s sharp defence kept the score 3-3.

Bichette made a highlight-reel play in the fourth, charging toward a Corey Dickerson grounder, catching it bare-handed and then rifling it to first base for the out. In the next inning, Blue Jays second baseman Santiago Espinal stabbed Tyler O’Neill’s sharply hit ball out of the air for the lineout, then threw to first where Tommy Edman was doubled off.

“A little bit of a momentum turn right there for us,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider of Espinal’s heads-up play. “He’s been doing it all year.”

Chapman restored Toronto’s lead in the sixth with an RBI single for a 4-3 Jays’ lead.

Following Chapman’s single, Espinal and Cavan Biggio had back-to-back walks to load the bases with two out. That brought Springer to bat for his climactic home run.

Kirk piled on in the next inning, hitting a solo home run to lead off the seventh. Espinal followed that with an RBI single, cashing in Bichette, as the Blue Jays reached double digits.

Veteran Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez returned to the booth on Tuesday night. Martinez, 73, stepped away from the job in mid-April after being diagnosed with cancer. He has since completed his treatment for the disease.

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