Cain's power bat helps Royals knock off Jays
Gordon also hits two-run jack in 2nd straight win at Rogers Centre
TORONTO -- Give them the lowly Houston Astros and the Royals are completely lost. Bring on the hottest club in the American League and they go to town.
Lorenzo Cain drove in four runs with a home run and two singles as the Royals grabbed a second straight victory against the Blue Jays, 6-1, on Friday night to the disappointment of 21,543 fans at Rogers Centre. Alex Gordon also hit a two-run homer and Jason Vargas pitched six innings for the win.
After being swept by the Astros in Kansas City, the Royals took on the top team in the AL East and ended the Blue Jays' nine-game winning streak in Thursday's series opener. This turn of events seemed to agree with the Royals so they continued with it.
Maybe that change of hitting coaches after the club reached Toronto really did prove to be a wakeup call.
"This is more of the offense that we envisioned coming out of Spring Training," manager Ned Yost said. "We're not going to be a team that's going to lead the league in home runs, but we've got home-run power that we haven't used."
The Royals, in the last two nights, have scored 14 runs with 23 hits, including three home runs.
"We've swung the bats well the last couple of days and that's what we've got to continue to do," Cain said. "Stay consistent and continue to score runs, and we'll be OK."
Both Cain and Gordon did all their damage against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ. Cain had RBI singles in the second and sixth innings and his two-run homer to left-center field in the eighth finished off Happ.
"He's still growing as a hitter. He's got more power in his bat, he exhibited that tonight. He's a great gap-to-gap hitter, but what he does so well is, he uses his hands and he uses all fields," Yost said.
"He can hit a little blooper to right and then turn on a ball and put it in the left-field seats. And then hit a screaming liner into the left-center-field gap. I think he's still evolving as a hitter and he's still got plenty of ceiling to improve as a hitter."
Cain is doing pretty well so far this season. Although time on the disabled list has limited him to 33 games, he leads the Royals with a .339 average.
Gordon hadn't socked a home run since May 18 when he unloaded two of them, each with two runners aboard, against Baltimore. There were 37 at-bats without one until he drove a Happ pitch over the right-field wall for this fourth homer this year.
"The pitch that Gordy hit on 3-2 was up and was a pitch that he could get extended on and drive, and it was a big home run for us at that point. It gave us a three-run lead," Yost said.
Billy Butler not only got three singles and scored all three times, but he witnessed something that perhaps lessened the sting of getting thrown out at first base by right fielder Jose Bautista in Thursday night's game. Bautista did it again on Friday night, this time catching Omar Infante in the seventh inning.
Infante blooped a floater down the right-field line that Bautista couldn't quite catch. But as he slid on the turf, the ball bounced right into his glove. Reacting quickly, Bautista fired to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion for another 9-3 rarity.
"I don't know if you'll see a better play in baseball today than that," Yost said. "Omar lost the ball, he thought it was foul. And for Bautista to come and smother the ball, and still see that he had a play at first base - I don't think I've ever seen a play like that."
Infante, assuming the ball had gone foul, turned to go back to the batter's box before he realized the ball had landed fair. So, he was late getting started to first base, giving Bautista extra time.
Earlier, in the bottom of the fifth, Bautista hammered a solo home run to right field off Vargas. That was only Bautista's fourth hit in 15 at-bats against Vargas in his career, but three of them have been home runs.
Except for the homer, Vargas stymied the Blue Jays for six innings, forcing them to strand nine runners.
"You definitely don't want 'em to cross the plate," Vargas said. "Anytime we can leave 'em on base, it definitely plays into our favor and frustrates the other team."
Until the Blue Jays ran into the Royals, they could do no wrong and were pouring runs across the plate.
"When you get on one of those hot streaks that we were on, we were cashing those in," manager John Gibbons said. "But Vargas was really, really good. They have one of the better pitching staffs in baseball."
Vargas even pitched past a leadoff triple by Jose Reyes in the first inning, thanks to right fielder Nori Aoki. He caught Melky Cabrera's drive in fairly deep right field and made a strong throw to discourage Reyes from attempting to score after the catch.
"When he hit it, I thought it was deep enough to score, but Nori got behind it and came up and made a great throw, and saved us a run that inning," Yost said.
The bullpen finished up as Aaron Crow added a scoreless seventh and Kelvin Herrera shut out the Jays for the last two innings.
Cain, despite his hitting heroics, will get a day off on Saturday as scheduled. The Blue Jays probably won't mind. For his part, Cain thinks he still has a long way to go as a hitter.
"I'm continuing to grow as a hitter and now I'm just trying to be consistent at the plate," he said. "That's always been a downfall for me, being consistent and going out and delivering every night. I'm trying to do that right now."