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Bichette a 'star in the making' for Blue Jays

Shortstop has gone deep in four straight games; Toronto hits 6 HR
@KeeganMatheson
August 14, 2020

Bo Bichette and the Buffalo Bombers did it again on Friday night at Sahlen Field, launching six home runs as the Blue Jays’ bats have suddenly jolted to life. Friday’s power surge followed a seven-homer outburst against the Marlins on Wednesday, giving the Blue Jays 14 in just three games

Bo Bichette and the Buffalo Bombers did it again on Friday night at Sahlen Field, launching six home runs as the Blue Jays’ bats have suddenly jolted to life.

Friday’s power surge followed a seven-homer outburst against the Marlins on Wednesday, giving the Blue Jays 14 in just three games at their new home park. The only difference Friday is that it ended in a 12-4 win over the Rays thanks in large part to Teoscar Hernández, who went yard twice, and Bichette, who’s riding an incredible hot streak at the plate.

Box score

Bichette has homered in four consecutive games and, with his steady glove at shortstop, there’s no question about who the engine of this lineup is. Bichette is hitting .356 with a 1.065 OPS and four stolen bases. Since flipping lineup spots with Cavan Biggio, moving from the leadoff spot down to No. 2, Bichette has taken off.

“I think we’re watching a star in the making,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said after the win. “That’s what I’m watching. I love the potential. I love his intensity. For a young kid, he’s a leader. To do what he’s doing, it’s awesome. That’s what stars do.”

With an extra-base hit and RBI in each of his last seven games, Bichette is the first shortstop to accomplish that since 1920, when the RBI became an official stat. Just like in his red-hot debut in 2019, each game seems to bring a new sliver of history that puts Bichette’s name among some all-time greats, or all on his own.

“Everybody expects him to hit a line drive for a homer,” Hernández said after the game, breaking down his co-star of the evening. “He’s really on fire right now. That’s the feeling that we have from seeing him in front of us hitting line drives everywhere. That makes us try to go up there and do the same thing to help the team.”

Rowdy Tellez got the Blue Jays on the board with his second long ball in as many games, a two-run shot in the second inning, before Biggio and Randal Grichuk tied things at 4 with solo shots of their own to set up Bichette's go-ahead three-run shot in the sixth. Then, it was Teoscar’s turn.

Hernández’s first home run of the night travelled 459 feet and, after hitting one 466 feet on Wednesday, it’s becoming clear why the Blue Jays, internally, have been extremely high on his offensive potential despite some struggles in the past. These are the two longest home runs of his career, and they came in back-to-back games. He later put the game on ice with a three-run shot in the eighth, already his seventh on the season.

“I know we can do even more than that on the baseball field,” Hernández said. “We have the talent. We have the energy. We’re trying to go out there and compete. Everybody expects us to not be as good as we are, but we’re really good. We’re going to fight.”

This offensive outburst helped to cover up another uneven start from right-hander Tanner Roark, who couldn’t find the zone consistently again on Friday. Last time out, the veteran walked five and was missing to the arm side with his fastball nearly every time. On Friday, that fastball was sailing high and out of the zone, leading to four walks and three runs over four innings.

Late in the game, Montoyo raised some eyebrows when he brought in closer Anthony Bass in a non-save situation, leaving Jordan Romano available behind him. After the game, Montoyo said that it’s not a permanent change, or at least not yet, despite Romano opening the season with nine scoreless innings and performing as one of the best relievers in the Majors.

According to Montoyo, Bass was up because there was a chance they’d need four outs, and with Bass more rested than Romano this season, he would have rathered Bass take that extra workload.

Keegan Matheson is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.