Gurriel does work on both sides of ball in win

Stroman throws six scoreless frames with six strikeouts

June 23rd, 2019

BOSTON -- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had extra luggage to take with him as the Blue Jays continue their road trip.

He proudly donned a replica championship wrestling belt, presented to him for being the best position player of the game in the Blue Jays’ 6-1 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday.

“I’m going to carry that all the way to New York,” Gurriel said with a smile.

Gurriel had another noteworthy outing in his continued improvement since transitioning from the infield to left field, making an impact on both sides of the ball.

The 25-year-old has settled into the outfield since he was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on May 24. Manager Charlie Montoyo praised his defense in left throughout this series, including reading the Green Monster wall.

“Pretty soon people are going to stop running on Gurriel,” Montoyo said. “He’s been good out there. For a guy who hasn’t played the whole year in left field, he’s accurate and he’s got a good arm.”

In the second inning, Gurriel fielded a ground ball from Jackie Bradley Jr. and fired an on-point throw to catcher Danny Jansen, who tagged out Brock Holt at home. (Holt was injured on the attempt to score.) The play helped preserve starter Marcus Stroman’s impressive scoreless outing (six innings, five hits, six strikeouts) in a series in which both teams had proven capable of erupting for game-changing bursts of offense.

“Lourdes is unreal out there. I can’t put it into words,” Stroman said. “He looks like he’s been playing left field for years. It’s pretty shocking and it’s exciting. It’s awesome to see how quickly he’s able to adjust from infield to outfield. It’s been almost seamless. When I see something like that from my defense, that only gives me much more confidence and motivation to do my job when they’re able to save runs for me, and that play was huge.”

Jansen was confident the throw was going to be on target. After putting in the practice, Gurriel has shown that’s what his teammates can expect from him in a short period of time.

“Honestly, since he’s been in the outfield in left field, he’s played it like he’s done it for the last 20 years,” Jansen said. “He looks so natural out there, so comfortable. He’s got an arm, he’s got a cannon, lets it go. I really like him out there.”

Gurriel said he considers throwing out Holt “the best part of the day,” but he made his mark on the offensive end, too. He smacked a line drive into center field off Red Sox starter Rick Porcello in the third inning. When Cavan Biggio doubled to center, Gurriel took off from first and slid into home to beat out the Red Sox's relay throw.

In the seventh inning, Gurriel connected for his 11th double of the season off reliever Josh A. Smith.

He bolstered his batting to .344/.377/.656 over his last 16 games, including 12 RBIs and five home runs.

“He’s becoming one of the best left fielders in baseball,” Montoyo said. “Slowly, but he’s getting there.”