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In breakout year, Smoak sets another mark

Blue Jays slugger plates 3 on 2-HR day, giving him career-high 62 RBIs
MLB.com @gregorMLB

BOSTON -- Justin Smoak's breakthrough season seems to be getting better and better with each passing day. In June, it was a new a career high in home runs and in July, it's a career high in RBIs.

Smoak surpassed another personal milestone during Toronto's 8-6 victory over the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park. He went 3-for-5 with two homers, a pair of runs scored and three RBIs to bring his season total to 62, a personal best.

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BOSTON -- Justin Smoak's breakthrough season seems to be getting better and better with each passing day. In June, it was a new a career high in home runs and in July, it's a career high in RBIs.

Smoak surpassed another personal milestone during Toronto's 8-6 victory over the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park. He went 3-for-5 with two homers, a pair of runs scored and three RBIs to bring his season total to 62, a personal best.

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The 30-year-old consistently has been Toronto's top hitter and has showed no signs of slowing down. This is the same player who was initially left off the roster during last fall's American League Championship Series and has gone on to become an All-Star and a top power producer.

"I think one through nine, our lineup sees a lot of soft stuff, so I feel like you have to pick your spots to look for the heater and pick your spots to look for the soft stuff," said Smoak, who went deep on a pair of curveballs. "I've been able to do that this year."

Smoak's home run total has climbed to 26, which is six more than his previous career high and is tied with Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Tampa Bay's Logan Morrison for the most by a Major League first baseman this season.

Video: TOR@BOS: Smoak homers twice, drives in three

The accolades don't stop there. Smoak ranks second in the AL this season with 20 multi-RBI games, trailing only Seattle's Nelson Cruz (22). Thursday's series finale marked the fifth time this season Smoak drove in at least three runs and it was the sixth time he finished with three hits.

Smoak's power has always been there, but the consistency and high batting average weren't. That changed this season with Smoak taking a more well-rounded approach that was fairly evident against Boston. He homered to right field in the fifth and sent one over the Green Monster in left in the ninth. According to Statcast™, the projected distances were 372 and 397 feet, respectively. Smoak is driving the ball to all fields and it's one of the reasons why he leads all Blue Jays regulars with a .298 batting average.

"He's turned into a good hitter, he's not just hitting home runs and slugging," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He has turned into a pretty damn good hitter from both sides. It's really a great story."

As for the career highs in RBIs, Smoak has the exact same approach as when he set a career high in home runs more than a month ago. The season is long and not even close to being over, so there are more important things on which to focus.

"I don't know, we still have two and a half months left in the season," Smoak said. "I just try to keep my head down and keep going."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Justin Smoak