Bautista, Donaldson lead offence's breakout
All-Star candidates swat two of Toronto's five HRs
TORONTO -- All-Star candidate Jose Bautista broke out of his mini slump Wednesday afternoon, and the rest of the Blue Jays lineup followed suit in a dominating 11-2 victory over the Red Sox on Canada Day.
Bautista was mired in an 0-for-25 skid until a two-run shot -- his 16th homer of the season -- in the second inning easily cleared the wall in left-center field. He also added a double and a sacrifice fly to finish with three RBIs.
Toronto's veteran outfielder had never gone through an 0-for-25 stretch as a Blue Jay, but he didn't seem overly worried. Unlike most slumps, Bautista made a lot of hard contact throughout and there was an element of bad luck at play instead of timing issues.
"Obviously you want to contribute, and you disappoint yourself, and you get a little frustrated when things aren't falling, but I wasn't too concerned about the period of time when I wasn't getting those hits because I was having good at-bats," Bautista said. "I was putting the ball in play, hard, consistently, I wasn't striking out and I was walking. So I wasn't too worried about it."
Bautista's efforts were just one small part in an impressive afternoon by the American League's best offense. Toronto entered the game having scored three runs or fewer in six of its last seven games, which is uncharactertistic for this group, so it was only a matter of time before the fortunes were reversed.
That happened in the first three innings against Boston righty Rick Porcello as the Blue Jays put up an early eight runs. When it was all said and done, Jose Reyes went 4-for-5 with four runs scored and Josh Donaldson -- who leads All-Star balloting at third base in the AL -- went 3-for-5 with a homer (No. 19 of 2015), two runs scored and three RBIs.
Other major contributors included Justin Smoak who homered from both sides of the plate and had three hits. Kevin Pillar also got in on the action with three hits, including a double, in four at-bats. It's the first time Toronto had four players with at least three hits in the same game since July 14, 2011: Eric Thames, Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion and Travis Snider. Encarnacion also went deep Wednesday, swatting a three-run shot.
"There's really no panic in here to score runs because we really believe, and we know that, that we're going to do that," said Donaldson, who hit a solo homer in the eighth. "The fact of the matter is, if we don't do it one day, we feel like the next day it's going to happen."
Donaldson's homer was the first time he has ever gone deep on an 0-2 count. This game also marked his ninth three-hit game and 29th multi-hit game of the season.
The outburst also enabled the Blue Jays to join the Angels as the only two teams with a trio of hitters who have combined to hit 50 home runs this year. Albert Pujols (24), Mike Trout (20) and David Freese (10) have done it for the Halos, while Donaldson (19), Encarnacion (17) and Bautista (16) have done it for Toronto.
"Those guys [Bautista and Donaldson] are two of the best hitters in baseball," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You're not going to hold them down, they're going to go through little ruts like everybody else, there's just less of them. But usually when they come back, they come back in a big way."