Arencibia homers twice as Blue Jays get first win
TORONTO -- When Alex Anthopoulos put together the Blue Jays this offseason, he envisioned a ballclub that would hit plenty of home runs and cause lots of problems on the basepaths.
Both the speed and power were on full display on Thursday night as the Blue Jays finally showed just how impressive they can be when firing on all cylinders.
Toronto broke out of a mini two-game slump in a big way by unloading for five home runs and stealing a couple of more runs with their feet in a 10-8 victory over the Indians in front of 19,515 fans at Rogers Centre.
"I think everyone has an idea of what this offense is capable of," Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia said. "Two games don't make your season and no one is worried about it here. Everybody knows what we have in this clubhouse. You can't get too high, you come back tomorrow and same attitude, ready to win."
Arencibia led the way with a pair of homers while Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus also went deep for Toronto. Four of the five home runs came off right-hander Brett Myers, who matched his career high for most homers allowed in one game.
With all off the balls flying out at Rogers Centre, it was almost easy to ignore the speed, which played just as vital of a role. Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio combined to provide a spark that has been missing in recent years on the Blue Jays roster.
Bonifacio turned a routine single into a double when he caught Michael Bourn off guard in center field. He would later come around to score on an error by first baseman Mark Reynolds.
Reyes then stole a much-needed insurance run in the eighth when he scored all the way from second base on an attempted double play. Cleveland got one out at second and was looking for another out at first, but Reyes kept running and when Bautista was ruled safe it enabled another run to score.
"That's just an overall sample of what we can bring to the table when individuals do what they're capable of doing," Bautista said. "We had some guys hit some home runs, some guys ran the bases great, some great defensive plays as well, and we got the clutch hits when we needed them."
Bonifacio, who went 2-for-4, was a star with the bat, but his biggest contribution could be found at second base. He made a pair of diving plays up the middle during the eighth inning which preserved what at the time was a slim one-run lead.
The first play occurred with runners on first and second. Cleveland's Michael Brantley hit a sharp grounder up the middle that appeared destined for the outfield. Bonifacio made a diving stab and was unable to get the force at second, but kept Jason Kipnis from scoring on the play.
During the following at-bat, Bonifacio once again took center stage. He ranged deep up the middle and made a strong throw to first to take a pair of RBIs away from Carlos Santana.
"Santana hit the ball up the middle, I think everybody in the ballpark thought it's up the middle and we're going to take the lead," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We saw tonight flashes of what they can do, with their speed and their defense."
The overall production on offense helped left-hander Mark Buehrle avoid the loss in his Blue Jays' debut, but it wasn't pretty. The Indians scored one in the first and two more in the fourth on back-to-back homers by Santana and Reynolds.
Buehrle's toughest inning came in the sixth. Buehrle began the frame with a walk and a hit batsman before surrendering doubles to Santana and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. Toronto's veteran starter was charged with six runs on seven hits while striking out four in 5 1/3 innings of work.
"I think the biggest thing I'm frustrated about is going out there after we just scored three runs to take a 6-3 lead, go out there and walk the leadoff guy, hit a guy, put yourself in a jam," Buehrle said. "That's unacceptable. I need to do a better job, but I just got behind in counts and guys got base hits and the next thing you know it's a tie game.
"But I thank some of the guys on offense for picking me up and there will be a day when I pick them up when we don't score many runs and hopefully I can hold the opponent down and we can win that game."
With the victory, the Blue Jays avoided being swept in the season-opening series, which hadn't happened since 2004. It also helped the club finish on a positive note in advance of former manager John Farrell's return to Rogers Centre on Friday night with the Red Sox.