MUST SEE: Blue Jays' Chris Coghlan dives over catcher to score
Toronto's Chris Coghlan called it instinct. It was more like a leap of faith.
Coghlan made an acrobatic, run-scoring bound over St. Louis All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, and Marcus Stroman came across with the go-ahead run after pinch hitting in the 11th inning and doubling for his first major league hit in the Blue Jays' 6-5 win over the Cardinals on Tuesday night.
With the score 2-2, Coghlan walked in the seventh and sped around the bases on Kevin Pillar's triple in the right-field corner, which hit high off the fence over Stephen Piscotty and bounced back toward the infield.
Piscotty's throw to the plate was slightly up the third-base line, and Molina leaned down to pick up the ball after its third hop. As Molina reached for the ball, the 31-year-old Coghlan hurled himself over the catcher, somersaulted and landed on the plate with his helmet and left hand.
"I was coming around third and I looked to my left to see where the ball was and I saw it was going to beat me and probably the last step or two I saw Yadi go down," Coghlan said. "You're first thought is, 'OK, I'm going to run him over cause he's right over the plate.' And then I was thinking, 'since he's down, why don't you jump?'"
Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada couldn't believe it.
"When I saw Coghlan do a front flip over Molina, it was like I saw a unicorn or something," Estrada said. "It's just something that never happens. You might not ever see that again."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was impressed.
"He got up there didn't he? You've got to win that game because that's what made it worthwhile," Gibbons said. "You probably don't see that for 100 years."
Coghlan actually made contact with Molina's shoulder, which prevented what could have been a dangerous landing.
"It was going to be an ugly fall because I just didn't have enough momentum going forward so it helped that I hit Yadi," Coghlan said. "It kicked my feet up so it wasn't that bad of a landing."
Coghlan's joked with reporters after the game that he was doing his best Willie Mays Hayes impersonation. Coghlan's leap is eerily similar to one by the fictional ball player played by Omar Epps in 1994's Major League II.
Dexter Fowler's two-out infield single off Roberto Osuna in the ninth tied the score 5-5.
Stroman, a pitcher who had been 0 for 5 in six previous big league plate appearances, pinch hit for reliever Jason Grilli (1-2) leading off the 11th because the Blue Jays were out of position players. He fell behind 0-2 in the count, fouled off a pitch and took a ball, then lined a slider from Miguel Socolovich (0-1) into the left-field corner. After Pillar popped out, Steve Pearce hit a grounder to shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who threw wildly as Stroman scored on the Cardinals' fourth error, all of which led to runs.
Stroman had been campaigning Gibbons for a shot to swing the bat.
"I'm always in the cage hitting with (Josh Donaldson) and (Troy Tulowitzki)," Stroman said. "So I feel like I have a pretty good sense of what's going on just being competitive and having fun up there."
Grilli struck out the side in the 10th, and Ryan Tepera got his first big league save since 2015 when Pillar made a sliding catch on Jose Martinez's fly to short centre with a runner on second base.
Estrada gave up two runs and six hits in six innings with nine strikeouts. Cardinals starter Michael Wacha allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.
After Pillar scored on third baseman Jedd Gyorko's error for a 4-2 lead in the seventh, Martinez tied the score in the bottom half with his first big league home run, a two-run drive against Joe Biagini. Jose Bautista's RBI single off former Blue Jay Brett Cecil put Toronto ahead 5-4 in the ninth.
"Missed plays, we've got to get better," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Getting the guys in, we've got to get better. Same thing we've been saying. Work and have a high expectation of what the work results should look like. We've still got a long ways to go."
Cardinals 1B Matt Carpenter served a one-game suspension for making contract with umpire John Tumpane following his ejection last weekend.
IN THE CROWD
Former Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle was at the game. Buehrle grew up in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles.
Blue Jays: LHP J.P. Howell (left shoulder soreness) was activated from the 10-day DL and RHP Leonel Campos was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Cardinals: INF Jhonny Peralta (upper respiratory issue) had a setback with his medication and is still trying to regain energy and strength. RHP Luke Weaver (lower back stiffness) threw and could be activated within a week.
Blue Jays: RHP Mat Latos (0-0, 7.20 ERA) is to make his second start of the season. He is 5-6 with a 5.76 ERA in 13 starts against St. Louis.
Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (0-3, 4.76 ERA) has surrendered 14 runs and 11 walks in his last 15 1/3 innings.
with a file from Siobhan Morris