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After slow start, Vlad can't stop hitting HRs

May 19, 2019

CHICAGO -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is starting to make up for lost time, and along the way he is making everyone forget about a slow start to his rookie season. Guerrero homered for the fourth time over his last six games in the Blue Jays’ 5-2 victory vs. the White

CHICAGO -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is starting to make up for lost time, and along the way he is making everyone forget about a slow start to his rookie season.

Guerrero homered for the fourth time over his last six games in the Blue Jays’ 5-2 victory vs. the White Sox on Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was Guerrero’s two-run shot in the top of the eighth which broke a tie ballgame and allowed the Blue Jays to salvage a series split in Chicago.

Box score

All four of Guerrero’s home runs came on Toronto’s six-game road trip through San Francisco and Chicago. Prior to the outburst on the road, Guerrero was slashing .191/.283/.234, which equated to a .517 OPS. Since then, Guerrero has seven hits over six games and the sudden uptick in power has raised his OPS to .766.

“You’re hoping the guy in front gets on because he has a chance to do something every time he comes to the plate,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It’s fun to have a guy like that in the lineup. … The more the lineup gets hot, the more comfortable he’s going to get, because then he feels less pressure to do stuff. That’s how I see it.”

The turnaround for Guerrero dates back to even before the start of the road trip. He had three hits over his final two games in a previous series vs. Chicago and over his last eight games Guerrero is batting .370 (10-for-27) with four home runs and nine RBIs, while posting an .852 slugging percentage and 1.321 OPS.

For Guerrero this also marked his third multi-hit game of the season, and it’s safe to say that he is starting to perform the way most people expected when he was called up late last month.

“I feel very good right now and I’ve been working hard in the cage with the hitting coach Guillermo Martinez,” Guerrero said through an interpreter after the game. “I’ve just been working in the cage on trying to hit the ball back up the middle. That’s basically what I do.”

Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton came away with a no-decision but he deserved a better fate after one of his better starts of the season. Despite the soggy conditions in Chicago, Thornton showcased some impressive command, allowing just one run while scattering three hits and a walk over six strong innings. The win went to reliever Daniel Hudson, who is now tied for the team lead with three after a scoreless seventh.

Thornton might not have come away with the victory but he is starting to get used to having the rookie phenom provide him with some run support. In Thornton’s last outing vs. San Francisco, Guerrero homered for the first time in his career as part of a two-homer night. Guerrero is 5-for-8 with three homers and six RBIs over the last two games that Thornton has started.

“He’s everything that everybody wanted him to be,” Thornton said after his second quality start of the season. “He’s an awesome bat, an awesome defender. I think we’re a good-hitting team. We’re going to get hot, we’re going to keep swinging, we’re going to win games. It has been fun these last two starts.”

Toronto catcher Danny Jansen added a two-run shot in the top of the ninth to give the Blue Jays some breathing room. It was his second home run of the season and his second of the series. Billy McKinney also chipped in with a solo home run as he picked up multiple hits for the second time in his last three games.

“That was big, even more against this club, they don’t quit,” Montoyo said of Jansen. “They’ve got a good offense so that was huge for me.”

Minor movement
The Blue Jays signed veteran left-hander Buddy Boshers to a Minor League contract on Sunday morning and he will report to Triple-A Buffalo early next week.

Boshers is 3-0 with a 4.59 ERA over parts of three seasons in the Major Leagues. The 31-year-old has not pitched in the big leagues since 2017, when he posted a 4.89 ERA in 38 appearances out of the bullpen for Minnesota.

The signing gives the Blue Jays a little more pitching depth inside the organization. Tim Mayza and Thomas Pannone have been the only left-handed options out of the 'pen for Toronto, but Boshers could slide into that role if there are injuries later in the year.

Boshers was signed out of the Mexican League, where he made a pair of appearances and did not allow a run over 2 1/3 innings. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft.

Giles and Shoemaker on Hooton Board
Ken Giles and Matt Shoemaker have been named to the Advisory Board for the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which advocates against the use of performance-enhancing substances by youth players.

At least one active player from every Major League team was named to the Advisory Board, and overall there are a record 42 players participating. This is the fourth straight season the Taylor Foundation has included a representative from every team.

"The Taylor Hooton Foundation is simply overwhelmed by the support that these elite athletes and Major League Baseball provide to send such an important and positive message to our young people that they, too, can accomplish all of their dreams without the use of these dangerous and often illegal substances," Taylor Hooton Foundation president Donald Hooton Jr. said in a statement.

"Kids today are driven to look their best and millions of middle- and high-school kids are using appearance and performance-enhancing substances to achieve their goals."

Giles and Shoemaker will be participating in the "All Me" public-service campaign to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding performance-enhancing drugs and the benefits of competing the right way. The Advisory Board will also take part in THF's educational activities in their local communities.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook.