The Toronto Blue Jays were at it again over the weekend, doing just enough to get a group of fans off the fence and back on the bandwagon.
But producing just two wins in seven games in Seattle and Oakland obviously falls well short of their goal, and the fact only one starter has pitched into the seventh inning on this road trip should be a concern.
Still, the Blue Jays refuse to go away in the American League wild-card race, with Sunday's 6-5 win over the Athletics bringing them back within five games of co-leaders Oakland and Detroit heading to the final stop in Tampa Bay, where the Rays find themselves two games back.
A second consecutive comeback victory was impressive given that five regulars were out of the Toronto lineup with various injuries: J.P. Arencibia, Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus.
Sure, major league veteran Edwin Encarnacion played a big role in both wins with his aggressive baserunning and home-run stroke but it was a couple of the Jays' potential future cornerstones who had their fingerprints all over the team's success.
With Saturday's game tied 1-1, centre-fielder Anthony Gose made a shoestring catch to rob A's designated hitter Derek Norris of a base hit to lead off the bottom of the 10th inning. He also singled and doubled in Toronto's 3-1, 11-inning win.
The 21-year-old Gose added a pair of hits Sunday but first laid down a sacrifice bunt that allowed Rajai Davis to score from second base, giving the Blue Jays an early advantage.
He singled in the fourth and doubled in the fifth, both times taking a Tommy Milone pitch the other way to left field. Gose also displayed his tremendous speed on the two-base hit as most major leaguers probably would have rounded the first-base bag and settled for a single.
Adjusting to majors
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said before Sunday's contest that he felt Gose was looking more comfortable at the plate and adjusting well to life in the major leagues.
After recording a single hit in his first 11 at-bats including five strikeouts, Gose has hit safely in eight of his past 10 starts and has a .270 batting average in that span to raise his season mark to .229.
"He is a confident guy and he is an extremely talented one," Farrell said. "It's evident when he gets on base he can be disruptive."
There was little doubt about Gose's defensive skills when Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos acquired him in 2010 from Houston for first baseman Brett Wallace, whom Anthopoulos had picked up from Oakland for outfielder Michael Taylor, one of the players Toronto received in the Roy Halladay trade the previous year. But scouts weren't sure how he would fare with a bat.
A slap hitter in the Astros' organization, Gose has been encouraged by the Blue Jays to work on driving the ball with more authority. It led to a 16-homer season at AA New Hampshire last season and five this year with AAA Las Vegas.
Gose earned a promotion in mid-July after hitting .292 in 92 games for the 51s while adding 29 stolen bases.
"I still have a lot of work to do, I still have to keep getting better," said Gose, who has yet to go deep in a Toronto uniform.
The same goes for 23-year-old Moises Sierra, whom Anthopoulos compares to Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, a two-time 30-run hitter.
Sierra singled off Seattle starter Jason Vargas in his first major league at-bat on July 31 and didn't start the first two games in Oakland before contributing on the weekend.
He went 3-for-5 on Saturday, the biggest hit a double to left in the top of the 11th inning that scored Davis to extend the Toronto lead to 3-1.
Sierra followed up that performance with a pair of singles in his final two at-bats Sunday.
While there appears to be much to like about Sierra, the Jays' 15th best prospect, according to MLB.com, expect growing pains.
He was thrown out at home plate Saturday attempting to score from first on a Gose double to centre-field and has some work to do on his baserunning, said Farrell.
"There is aggressiveness on his part which is a positive," added the manager, "but there are some game situations that need to be addressed and will continue to be addressed.
"Whether he's run through a stop sign or there have been some things that have taken place on the basepaths that have to be corrected, there has to be better attention to detail paid on his part."
Defensively, Anthopoulos feels the Blue Jays have a player whose arm could rival that of Bautista, the man he is currently replacing.
"It would be interesting to see both him and Jose Bautista throwing from right field to compare the arm strength. He is a high energy player," said Anthopoulos of Sierra. "We think he has the type of upside to be a Nelson Cruz-type player. His skill set and his tools match that. We're high on him, we're excited about him."
Blue Jays fans might get another glimpse of what the future might hold in Tampa Bay with shortstop prospect Adeiny Hechavarria already on board and pitcher Chad Jenkins, a 2009 first-round pick, summoned from AA on Sunday.
And, who knows, it might be enough to keep the majority of them on the bandwagon for at least another week.
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