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Pillar of strength: 2-HR game first of his life

Outfielder also first right-handed batter to complete feat vs. Scherzer

WASHINGTON -- Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar had a night he'll never forget on Tuesday, and that it happened against one of the best pitchers in the game made it even more special.

Pillar homered twice off Washington starter Max Scherzer and finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs. The breakthrough performance almost single-handedly helped the Blue Jays snap a three-game losing streak with a desperately needed 7-3 victory at Nationals Park.

The two-homer game is something a right-handed hitter had never done in the Major Leagues against Scherzer. It's also something Pillar had never done before at any level: Little Leagues, Minor Leagues, Major Leagues.

"It was a big time for it, and it just felt good to get back and contribute," Pillar said of his three-run shot in the sixth that gave Toronto a 4-3 lead. "May was a long month, and I missed a lot of opportunities that could have changed some games.

"That's the hardest part about struggling, when you're put into a situation with runners on and you're not your best self and you can't contribute and the losses keep adding up. It weighs on you. So to be in a situation like that and to come through and to help us win a game is huge for me and huge for the team."

There probably isn't another player in the Blue Jays' clubhouse that needed a big night more than Pillar. The 26-year-old struggled to a .181 average with just five extra-base hits and six RBIs with a woeful .494 OPS during the month of May.

The start of a new month has apparently brought new results, at least for one night, but it wasn't without a lot of hard work. Pillar has spent countless hours over the past several weeks with hitting coach Brook Jacoby as the two worked to make adjustments with his swing.

They felt that it would be a good idea to lower the leg kick Pillar has been using for most of the year. Pillar believed it would help improve his timing at the plate, and that was certainly the case against Scherzer with a solo homer in the second and three-run shot in the sixth.

"The leg kick is something that's great when you're on time and you have consistent rhythm with it," Pillar said. "[Jose Bautista] is a guy who has mastered it and is very confident with it. But it's hard to hit without your feet on the ground, so we tried to keep my feet closer to the ground and start my load early.

"I think that's where I go wrong, trying to commit to a pitch too early. Anticipating a pitch and not really seeing it. I think today, starting early, getting my foot down early, allowed me to slow the game down, slow the pitches down and make better decisions at the plate."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
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