Early this afternoon, when the lights were low and the stadium was empty, John Buck took to the field with manager Cito Gaston, hitting coach Dwayne Murphy and pitching coach Bruce Walton.
Walton threw. Murphy advised. Gaston observed and offered his two cents as well. The goal? To get Buck’s timing back on track.
Um, it worked a little.
Buck slammed three home runs in a 6-3 win over the A’s that felt like a rout even though the difference was just three runs. Buck victimized Justin Duchscherer, Jerry Blevins and Craig Breslow to become the 15th Blue Jay to belt at least three homers in a game in franchise history.
There weren’t many fans here tonight — announced attendance of 10,721 — but those in the stands began chanting, “Buck! Buck!” during his final at-bat. Alas, Carlos Delgado remains the lone Jay to launch a quartet of moonshots in a single contest.
Buck might have a few more early sessions in his future.
“I might as well. I’ll do it every day if I’ll get those results,” he joked.
SECOND: Had Buck not dominated the storyline tonight, we might have been writing more about the solid effort from Ricky Romero. He did not look sharp early, allowing three runs on four hits in the first three innings. Then he settled in and managed to log six innings, giving Buck time to do his damage
Buck was impressed with how Romero battled his way through six frames.
“I think that’s a really good thing on Ricky’s part,” Buck said. “Normally he’s able to go out there and just be nasty. Tonight his changeup didn’t have that bit — they got a coupld early hits on that. I told Ricky, ‘You’ve just got to pitch.’ It was like he felt too good.
He made the adjustment right away and did a real good job. I was really, really proud of him, the way he was just able to go out there and pitch.”
THIRD: Another player lost in the wake of Buck’s wallops was Travis Snider. Like Buck, Snider has been fighting through a month-long slump. Like Buck, Snider homered on Thursday. Snider just didn’t go yard two more times.
Following Buck’s solo shot in the third inning, Snider crushed a pitch from Duchscherer to right field for a rocket of a home run. Or, as Cito put it…
“That missile got out of here in a hurry,” Gaston said. “Then Buck came back and put one off the restaurant.”
Yeah, that one was crushed. Off the windows of the restaurant in center field.
Oh, wait. I was talking about Snider. Right. Anyways…
Snider finished 2-for-4 with that homer and a double. The Jays can only hope that gets him jump-started.
HOME: OK, I’ve always got to play Debbie Downer at least once, right? Well, the A’s led 3-0 after three, but had it not been for a “wild pitch” from Romero it would’ve likely been just a two-run advantage. Buck did not properly block a pitch and it skipped away. There have been a few of those this year.
But, Buck made up for it. Three times. So, all’s forgiven.