TORONTO -- Teoscar Hernandez officially joined the Blue Jays more than a week ago, but Sunday afternoon might have been when he truly arrived.Hernandez put on a show and provided the Blue Jays with a glimpse of the future by hitting a pair of home runs in an 8-2 victory
TORONTO -- Teoscar Hernandez officially joined the Blue Jays more than a week ago, but Sunday afternoon might have been when he truly arrived.
Hernandez put on a show and provided the Blue Jays with a glimpse of the future by hitting a pair of home runs in an 8-2 victory over Detroit. The rookie outfielder finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and five RBIs in the best game of his young career.
The 24-year-old, the club's No. 5 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, became the first Toronto rookie with two home runs in the same game since J.P. Arencibia did it on July 22, 2011. He also became the 13th rookie in franchise history to finish with at least five RBIs and the first since outfielder Anthony Gose in 2012.
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"Time will tell, but I didn't think he had as much pop as he showed today," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He went to deep center and he went to the opposite field. There's life in his bat. Early on, the first couple of games I saw him, real aggressive at the plate and chased a lot of pitches out of the zone. I think if he just narrows it down, gets some strikes to hit, everything is there."
Hernandez's big day at the plate began in the bottom of the fourth inning when he sent a pitch from Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez over the wall in center field for his first home run of the season. He was back at it one inning later with yet another homer off Sanchez, this one going just over the wall in right.
This marked the first time Hernandez had a multi-homer game and the second time he finished with three hits. He now has seven RBIs over his last five games and continues to make a strong impression while receiving playing time at all three spots in the outfield.
The Blue Jays don't have a lot to play for this month after falling out of contention, but these games still hold a lot of significance for rookies with something to prove. The injection of youth also provides a bit of a lift to the veterans on the roster who have been riding the ups and downs all year and now have some fresh faces added into the mix.
"If you've been around the game for awhile, it's nice to see the wide-eyed look, the excitement," Blue Jays infielder Darwin Barney said. "Brings some energy to these games where maybe both teams aren't necessarily where they want to be. There's a lot to be playing for, for some people, so it was fun to watch."
Hernandez is so new to all of this that he'll be forgiven for forgetting all about his media responsibilities after the game. He left early to celebrate with family and friends a game the Dominican native will never forget. More importantly, he's doing it while trying to make a statement that he should be considered as a potential option at the start of 2018.
Toronto is looking for better defense and more athleticism out of its corner outfield next year, which could open the door for Hernandez. The Blue Jays' offseason will dictate a lot of that, but the playing time is there now to leave a lasting impression with the front office and coaching staff.
"When we picked him up, we heard a lot of good things about him," Gibbons said. "He's athletic, he's got some pop in his bat. He can do a lot of things, he can run ... We acquired him for a reason."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.