Pillar, Goins making a difference at bottom of lineup
Nos. 8-9 hitters combine to reach base 7 times as infielder flashes D
TORONTO -- Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins may have brought up the caboose of the Blue Jays' lineup on Wednesday, but their contributions in the team's win over the Mets were front and centre.
The Nos. 8 and 9 hitters went a combined 5-for-6 and reached base seven times in the Blue Jays' 8-0 victory at Rogers Centre, helping the team snap a two-game losing streak.
"That's huge for this team," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "[The bottom of the lineup] was kind of a black hole for us at times last year, but they just keep doing it. Pillar, Goins, they both feel like they belong now. They've been up and down in the past, and now they're here and they've been big, big contributors."
A day after he committed a costly baserunning error, Pillar delivered several timely hits for the Blue Jays, including a solo shot in the seventh inning that gave Toronto a 3-0 lead. He finished the night 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, giving him 15 over his past 16 games. After hitting .181 in 29 games in May, Pillar has erupted through 14 contests this month, tallying three homers and 14 RBIs for a .385 batting average.
Contrary to Gibbons' suggestion that Pillar and Goins have something to prove, Pillar said they're just playing up to their potential.
"A lot of people forget that guys who get to this level, they were [Nos.] 3-4 [hitters], leadoff, No. 2 hitters in the Minors," Pillar said. "We're guys who are used to being relied on by our team."
While they have been lauded for their recent offensive contributions, both Goins and Pillar are known for their strong defense. Goins had his on full display Wednesday as he stole several base hits up the middle with highlight-reel diving and sliding stops.
With starting second baseman Devon Travis due back from his rehab assignment as early as this weekend, it appears Goins could be destined for a backup infield role in the near future. But the 27-year-old has made a strong case for himself in the last week, registering multihit games in four of his last six contests.
"Another year of maturity, another year in this league, knowing the pitchers, what people are trying to do to you," Goins said. "We feel like we belong, we've got a little chip on our shoulder."