TORONTO - September baseball can be particularly challenging for a player coming back from injury.
The minor league affiliates wrap up their regular seasons on or around Labour Day, leaving returning players with no option but to find their offensive timing against the sport's best pitchers.
"I'm hoping it'll be the first at bat," said Colby Rasmus before Friday's 5-3 loss to the Orioles. "I feel good. My swing feels good and that's all I'm worried about right now. The timing will come. I'm just going to get up there and try to pretend like I haven't even missed any games and go out there and just play a ballgame and have fun."
Little did he know he'd be pleased with the result.
After popping out to Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado on the third pitch of his first at bat, Rasmus stepped up in the fifth and launched his 19th home run of the season to give Toronto a 3-0 lead.
With the game tied 3-3 in the seventh, Rasmus singled to put Blue Jays at the corners with one out. Rasmus would be stranded and Toronto wouldn't score in the inning.
Rasmus returned from a strained left oblique, which cost him 29 games.
Edwin Encarnacion was back in Friday's lineup after missing five games with a sore left wrist.
He's four home runs shy of a second-straight 40-home run season.
"I don't think about that," said Encarnacion. "I don't think about getting 40 home runs. I'm just thinking about trying to be healthy, trying to finish the season playing and I don't think about whether I'll get two more or three more, whatever. If I get it, it's good. If not, it's all right."
Encarnacion went 0-3 with a walk and a run scored.
REDMOND GOES DEEP
Todd Redmond's 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball marked the longest start of his major league career.
DAVIS IN EXCLUSIVE COMPANY
Chris Davis hit his 50th home run of the season in the eighth inning, breaking a 3-3 tie.
In doing so, Davis launched himself into rarified air, joining only Babe Ruth (1921 - 59/44) and Albert Belle (1995 - 52/50) to hit 50 home runs and 40 doubles in a single season.
The home run was Davis' seventh against the Blue Jays this year and 16th against Toronto since the start of the 2012 season.
"He's having a great year," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "He's so strong, he hits them anywhere. It has nothing to do with the park here. You know, some guys will get some cheapies here but he doesn't get any cheapies. The thing that makes him so good is that he hits them anywhere. Even in that home run hitting contest in the All-Star Game he was the only guy hitting some home runs to the opposite field. He's dangerous."
ORIOLES NEED WINS
Friday's win was crucial for the Orioles, who arrived in Toronto having lost the final three games of a four-game series, at home, with the New York Yankees.
Baltimore entered play on Friday 2.5 games behind Tampa Bay for the final wild card spot. Both the Yankees and Indians are ahead of the Orioles but behind the Rays.
Manager Buck Showalter's club needs to turn things around.
"It's why we do what we do," said Showalter. "A game in April has the same impact mathematically but because of the dwindling opportunities I think it creates a little more emotion about it, I guess."
Baltimore is embarking on its final road trip of the season. After three in Toronto, the Orioles will visit the Red Sox for three and the Rays for four games.
The season ends with a six-game homestand; three each against the Jays and the Red Sox.
"It's why we all get up in the morning," said Showalter. "Proud that they are meaningful games but we need to win some more to have it continue that way."