TORONTO -- Few things in baseball are ever guaranteed, but Edwin Encarnacion's production against the Baltimore Orioles has become a constant for the Blue Jays.Encarnacion had a monster afternoon on Saturday, finishing 3-for-3 with two home runs and five RBIs in Toronto's 11-6 win over Baltimore at Rogers Centre. The
TORONTO -- Few things in baseball are ever guaranteed, but Edwin Encarnacion's production against the Baltimore Orioles has become a constant for the Blue Jays.
Encarnacion had a monster afternoon on Saturday, finishing 3-for-3 with two home runs and five RBIs in Toronto's 11-6 win over Baltimore at Rogers Centre. The 33-year-old's outburst came just hours after his walk-off, 10th-inning home run against the Orioles on Friday night and extended his streak to nine straight games against Baltimore with an RBI.
"He's a good hitter," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "This isn't any surprise. When we make the pitches we're making on him, he's going to make you pay. We're just not making very good pitches and he's a good hitter. That's a bad combination."
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Encarnacion's start to the 2016 season hasn't been up to his career norms, with the veteran slugger riding an 0-for-19 heading into Friday's walk-off, but may finally be turning a corner and making adjustments at the plate.
After taking his walk-off shot to right field on Friday, both of Encarnacion's home runs on Saturday were taken to left field. Encarnacion's first of the day came on a hanging sinker from reliever T.J. McFarland to cap a five-run sixth, while his second home run came on a 3-2 changeup against Brian Duensing, a sign that Toronto's big right-handed bat is making the necessary in-game adjustments against the American League's top-ranked bullpen.
"I've seen him do what he did today," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Of course, what he did last night, we've seen him do it many, many times. But he's like every hitter. They pitch him tough, too. Everytime he steps into the box they're not facing an average Joe. They bear down on him. That's why when he's patient -- he waits and gets a pitch he can hit -- that's when he's very dangerous. That's not always easy to do too because those guys are trying to make things happen sometimes and get something done."
For his part, Encarnacion attributes the success to adjusting and getting hot at the right time, but the numbers are hard to ignore. Encarnacion's 33 home runs against Baltimore are his most against any team, while his 79 RBIs are second only to his 86 RBIs against the Red Sox. With Jose Bautista missing his second straight game due to right thigh tightness, the streak for Encarnacion could not come at a better time.
"When you feel good they can throw the ball onto the dirt and you'll still hit it," said Encarnacion, who also walked twice and doubled in a run. "But when you're feeling bad, they can throw the ball into the middle and you're still not going to hit it."
The Blue Jays and Orioles will match up four more times over the course of the next eight games. Toronto heads into Sunday's series finale trailing the American League East-leading Orioles by 3 1/2 games.
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.