Bobby Wilson and Drew Stubbs were in the major leagues two weeks ago, and happy to be, but they weren’t playing where they wanted.
They were with the Texas Rangers at the end of last season, signed minor-league deals in the off-season for a chance to make the team out of spring training, and were in big-league camp to the bitter end.
But Wilson was traded March 29 to Detroit and Stubbs took the out clause in his minor league deal the next day after being told he wouldn’t make the Opening Day roster.
That was six weeks ago, which in baseball can feel like an eternity. Even two weeks can feel that way, and two weeks ago neither was in the Rangers’ organization.
They are now, and for the second time in a week they made significant contributions in a Rangers win.
Wilson swatted a second-inning grand slam Saturday night, and Stubbs won it in the 10th with a two-out solo homer as the Rangers walked off against the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 after closer Shawn Tolleson blew his third save of the season.
Colby Lewis allowed two runs in seven innings, but Tony Barnette (3-2) was the winning pitcher after finishing the ninth for Tolleson and tossing a scoreless 10th.
Stubbs, though, got the cooler dumped on his head, and both he and Wilson were all smiles afterward.
“This organization made a great impression on me at the end of last year,” Stubbs said. “Any time you can help contribute to a win, regardless of the situation, is great, and, obviously, walk-off home runs are a lot of fun.
“For me, being here during the stretch run last year and coming back was great. You know everyone and the dynamics in the clubhouse. Just to step into a spot like that after we put together pretty solid game up until the end, it felt good to get the win regardless of how it got done.”
Wilson became the first Rangers catcher since Ivan Rodriguez in 2001 to hit multiple grand slams in a season, and Wilson has hit two in six days.
The second inning was the only inning in which the Rangers’ offense mounted a rally. The first three batters reached, beginning with a walk to Mitch Moreland, and they all came home as Wilson launched the 11th-pitch in his at-bat into the Blue Jays’ bullpen in left-center field.
Unlike the go-ahead grand slam May 8 at Detroit, an inning in which Stubbs scored the tying run as a pinch runner, this one was a no-doubter.
“How about that, huh?” Wilson said. “I was just trying to put together a good at-bat. I got a cutter up in the zone and was finally able to handle one. I was just trying to stay aggressive with it. I was battling and just trying to get a pitch I could handle.”
Other than that, the Rangers mustered only one other run against Marco Estrada, and needed help getting in. Ryan Rua lifted a two-out flare in the sixth inning into left-center that dropped between Michael Saunders and Ezequiel Carrera, who stabbed at the ball as he got past him.
Rua dived into third and scored in short order on a passed ball by Russell Martin with Wilson batting.
After Lewis worked a perfect seventh, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson combined on a scoreless eighth to set the table for Tolleson, who blew a save earlier this month at Toronto.
The Blue Jays bit him again, as Jose Bautista started the inning with a double and Justin Smoak went deep two batters later to make it 5-4. Troy Tulowitzki cleared the wall in left field on the next pitch.
Tolleson blew two saves in 37 opportunities last season but has three in 14 tries this year.
“Getting three outs with a three-run lead should be easier than that, so it’s frustrating,” Tolleson said. “Colby pitched a great game and put our team in a really good position to win, and I kind of gave that up. So, it stinks.
“I’m kind of in a rough patch right now, but I just kind of look at it as a learning process and kind of use these low times to kind of refine me, make me a better pitcher and better because of it.”
The Blue Jays’ rally spoiled another quality start by Lewis, his seventh in eight outing this season. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits, didn’t walk anybody and struck out six.
The vaunted heart of the Blue Jays’ order — No. 2 hitter Josh Donaldson, No. 3 hitter Jose Bautista and cleanup man Edwin Encarnacion — combined to go 0 for 9 against him.
“I’m just feeling good and I have been throwing all my pitches for strikes and keeping guys off balance,” said Lewis, the only Rangers starter to work at least six innings in each of his starts. “I’m doing what I need to do to continue to keep our team in it.”
Wilson and Stubbs did their part Saturday, too, in the place they always wanted to play in 2016.
“It’s a place I love playing,” Wilson said. “Just from top to bottom, it’s a first-class organization, and I’m grateful for them believing in me to give me a chance to play. I feel they have the confidence in me to keep running me out there.”
Rangers vs. Blue Jays
2:05 p.m. Sunday, FSSW
Rangers vs. Blue Jays
2:05 p.m. Sunday
Radio: KRLD/105.3 FM, ESPN/1540 AM (Spanish)
Rangers LHP Cesar Ramos (0-2, 5.11 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RHP Aaron Sanchez (3-1, 2.58)