TORONTO -- Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales (Monina) might be swinging the hottest bat in all of baseball right now, and it has earned him a place in Blue Jays history.Morales tied a franchise record by homering in a sixth consecutive game, and he also hit a key single
TORONTO -- Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales (Monina) might be swinging the hottest bat in all of baseball right now, and it has earned him a place in Blue Jays history.
Morales tied a franchise record by homering in a sixth consecutive game, and he also hit a key single during a three-run eighth inning to lead the Blue Jays to an 8-6 victory over the Phillies on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Aledmys Diaz (Papito) took care of the rest with a bases-clearing double, while Aaron Sanchez (Sanchize) picked up a no-decision in his return to the mound.
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The 35-year-old Morales became the 29th player to homer in at least six games in a row in Major League history. He moved into a tie with Jose Cruz. Jr. (2001) for the longest streak in franchise history, and he also moved into a tie with St. Louis' Matt Carpenter (Carp) for the most consecutive games with a home run this season.
"I feel really proud of what he's doing right now," Diaz said of Morales through an interpreter. "Mostly, because he's a fellow Cuban. It's a guy that has been in the league forever. It's nice what he's doing, but we're not surprised. This is a guy who puts the work in. Not only on the outside, but here in the inside of the clubhouse he's a great guy, and he's always been the same guy whether he's doing good or bad. I'm really proud of him."
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Morales' latest home run came during the fourth inning off Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta. According to Statcast™, Morales' 20th home run of the season was projected to travel 415 feet and left his bat at 103.8 mph. That home run moved him into sole possession of the top spot on the Blue Jays, and it marks the fourth consecutive year that he reached the 20-homer plateau. Morales also is riding a nine-game hitting streak. He's batting .516 (16-for-31) with seven homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.739 OPS over that stretch.
The native of Cuba sparked Toronto's three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff single. He was lifted for pinch-runner Curtis Granderson (Grandyman), and the Blue Jays later loaded the bases when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (Yunito) walked and rookie catcher Danny Jansen was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Diaz cleared the bases with a double off the wall in center field as the Blue Jays jumped in front by two.
Sanchez allowed 10 hits, six runs and a pair of walks, with two strikeouts in four-plus innings in his return from the 60-day disabled list. Billy McKinney also chipped in for the Blue Jays with a two-run homer, his third home run of the week and second in as many games.
"It's stupid, it's unheard of," Sanchez said of Morales' streak. "We all knew what he was capable of, and it was just getting some at-bats I think was the biggest thing for him. Now that he's getting into his routine, yeah it took a little bit, but I think it's showing this game is all about timing and rhythm. He has good timing and rhythm right now, and it's showing."
SANCHEZ MAKES RETURN
Sanchez, 26, was activated from the 60-day disabled list prior to Saturday's game as he's finally over a finger contusion that cost him more than two months of the season. As expected, there was a little bit of rust in Sanchez's return, but his performance was not quite as bad as the pitching line would indicate.
There wasn't a lot of hard contact, but the Phillies consistently found holes, and a couple of makeable plays behind him were not turned into outs. The outing wasn't exactly pretty, but he faced the minimum in a couple of innings, and overall Sanchez considered it a successful return to the mound despite the six runs.
• Jansen went 2-for-3 with two doubles to become the fourth player in franchise history to reach base in each of his first eight Major League games, joining Jesse Barfield (1981), Aaron Hill (2005), and Ryan Goins ('13). He's also the third player in franchise history with five or more doubles in his first eight games, joining Adam Lind (six, '06) and Eric Hinske (five, '02). </p.>
• McKinney became the first player in franchise history to hit three home runs and pick up at least nine RBIs during his first seven games with the Blue Jays. He's the eighth player in franchise history with at least three home runs in his first seven games.
The Blue Jays will wrap up their three-game set with the Phillies and Players' Weekend on Sunday by sending Marco Estrada (Estratosphere) (7-9, 4.88 ERA) to the mound at 1:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Estrada has pitched into the sixth inning in each of his last four starts, but has a 4.81 ERA in the outings. It could be the 35-year-old's final start in Toronto as he's been a candidate to be dealt before the end of the month. Vince Velasquez (Vicente) (8-9, 4.06) takes the ball for Philadelphia. He hasn't pitched into the fifth inning in his last three starts, surrendering eight runs over 10 1/3 innings.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.