Bichette's trio of HRs put him in rare baseball company

Joins Guerrero as 1st teammates with 3-homer games in a season whose fathers played in MLB

September 6th, 2022

BALTIMORE -- For all their firepower, the Blue Jays know they’re really clicking, really the best version of themselves, when is right. So maybe it’s that simple. After searching for consistency much of the year, Bichette is raking again. And just like that, here come the Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card race.

Toronto made a loud statement Monday behind the white-hot Bichette, whose first career three-homer game powered the Blue Jays to their doubleheader sweep of the Orioles at Camden Yards. After Toronto took Game 1, 7-3, behind a strong Kevin Gausman start, Bichette cranked three homers in Game 2’s 8-4 victory as the Blue Jays stretched their lead over Baltimore for the third and final AL Wild Card spot to 4 1/2 games.

“[We] are rolling right now, and I think [we’re] up for the excitement of this part of the year, especially against a team that we're going head-to-head with in the Wild Card race,” interim manager John Schneider said. “So it was an awesome day at the yard.”

Bichette made the Blue Jays the second team with multiple players with a three-homer game this season (Vlad Guerrero Jr. also did it in April). Bichette and Guerrero are the fourth pair of teammates under the age of 25 with a three-homer game in the same season, joining Larry Parrish and Gary Carter with the 1977 Expos, Tommy Brown and Duke Snider with the 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers and Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri with the 1927 Yankees.

They are also the first teammates with a three-homer game in the same season who each had a father who played in MLB.

“He’s a really good hitter getting hot,” said Schneider. “We've said this all along: Bo is a huge part of our team and offense. He’s locked in. Unbelievable performance by him.”

Game 2 was a Bichette showcase. Bichette pulled a three-run homer off Nick Vespi in the third, sprayed an opposite-field solo shot off Bruce Zimmermann in the sixth and spanked another solo shot to center off Zimmermann in the seventh. He added an above-average defensive play going to his left to save a run behind José Berríos in the third. Offensively, the 24-year-old is on his best tear of the season, hitting .400 (24-for-60) with 10 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs in his last 15 games.

“When he's using the whole field like that, I mean, he's as good as anybody in the league,” Schneider said. “Where he’s spraying the ball like that and doing it with power, it speaks volumes to how good he is.”

Winners of five straight and seven of eight, the Blue Jays, too, seem to be clicking right at the right time. Monday, they took care of business behind Gausman in Game 1, Bichette’s fireworks overshadowed Berríos’ 10th victory in Game 2, and Toronto tied a franchise record with its eighth straight road win. The Blue Jays’ work on Labor Day paid off, earning a two-game bump in the standings over the course of seven-odd hours.

The Blue Jays also moved within one-half game of the Rays, who beat Boston, and the Mariners, who lost to the White Sox, for the second Wild Card spot.

“We understand the magnitude of what’s going on right now,” Bichette said. “I think today was probably the most competitive we’ve been all year. That’s a good thing at this time of year.”

That’s because Toronto controls its own destiny like few other teams, with 17 of its remaining 28 games against its direct Wild Card competitors. The Blue Jays still have eight head-to-head matchups against Baltimore: two more this week, three next weekend at Rogers Centre and three more at Oriole Park to finish the regular season. In between, the Blue Jays and Rays play nine times.

These are critically important games in a year when head-to-head matchups determine playoff tiebreakers. For instance, if the Blue Jays and Orioles finish tied for the final Wild Card spot, the winner of their head-to-head season series would go to the playoffs. The other would be eliminated, like Toronto was on the final day of the 2021 season.

In another scenario, say the Blue Jays and Rays finished tied for the top Wild Card spot. The team with the better head-to-head record would earn home-field advantage in that Wild Card Series. The difference between the second and final Wild Card spots is also significant, since the lower seed draws a division winner in the Wild Card Series.

In short, the Blue Jays know it's imperative to win as many games as they can down the stretch to assure themselves of the best situation possible come October. Beating Baltimore comes with the added benefit of pushing the pesky O’s further and further into the rearview mirror.

“The vibes are obviously good,” Schneider said. “They're up for the challenge of this exciting part of the season.”