Covering the Bases: Game 6
Turns out he was merely warming up.
In a 5-2 win over the Orioles on Sunday, Alex went Gone-zo twice (see what I did there?). The man drilled a pair of solo homers off Baltimore’s Kevin Millwood to up his season total to four.
That’s four in 26 at-bats. Gonzalez had four in 268 at-bats last season. His fourth came on August 22 in his 75th game. Needless to say, he’s on a better pace.
This is a complete bonus for the Blue Jays. They acquired him for his glove and brought him in on a one-year deal with a club option. If he performs well with the bat, it completely plays in Toronto’s favor.
First, more offense from the lower half of the lineup means more support for Toronto’s pitching staff. Second, more offense could increase Gonzalez’s trade value or worth as a potential free agent.
SECOND: All five of the Blue Jays’ runs on Sunday came via homers. Three of those home runs came off the bats of Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion between the eighth and ninth innings. It was a late outburst that paved the way to the win, also taking Shaun Marcum off the hook for what would’ve been a hard-luck loss. The Jays have hit 11 homers in six games with five coming in the eighth of ninth inning. Manager Cito Gaston has said since the start of spring that he feels his team has the potential to have six or seven guys hit at least 20.
“That’s kind of what I was talking about,” Gaston said of the four homers in Sunday’s win. “I hope that they can carry that on the whole season. It’d be a very interesting season for us.”
THIRD: How about that Johnny Mac? Gaston gave McDonald the start at second while Aaron Hill continues to nurse a sore right hamstring (he might, MIGHT, be cleared to play Monday). McDonald resonded by going 3-for-4 with two singles, one double and one sharp grounder that should’ve been his fourth hit of the game.
In the eighth inning, McDonald pulled one sharply down the line and third baseman Miguel Tejada was unable to snare it cleanly due to a bad hop. It was ruled an error, but it could have very well been ruled an infield single. Said Gaston: “Mac had a good day. He should have four hits. I hope they look at that and change that. First of all, it’s not really right for Tejada to go home feeling like he does. The ball took a bad hop. Whatre you going to do?”
More importantly, why did McDonald wait until the eighth inning to share his secret for solving Millwood? Besides Gonzalez’s solo homer in the fourth, McDonald was the only hitter to reach base against Millwood until the eighth.
“They wouldn’t listen to me for the first seven innings!” McDonald joked.
HOME: If someone would have asked you for your prediction on who would be the first pitcher to reach three wins in the Majors this year, how many of you would’ve named Casey Janssen? Thanks to these tight games and late rallies, Janssen picked up three of Toronto’s five wins on the road trip. Teammates might start calling him The Vulture if this keeps up.
“It’s just good timing,” Janssen said with a smile. “Who knows? You might go 60 more appearances and not get a win.”
Outside Jason Frasor’s blown save in the season opener, the Jays bullpen has been solid. Frasor has three saves, Kevin Gregg has two and Janssen has three wins. There have been save situations in every game, too, making it look wise for the Jays to have put three closing options (Frasor, Gregg and Scott Downs on the staff).
“The starting pitching has been great,” Janssen said. “It makes it a lot easier on the bullpen when their pitching deep into games. It shortens the game and with the guys we have down there, take your pick who you want to throw out there. Everybody’s got closer stuff.”