Edwin Encarnacion hits 40th homer as Jays drill Mariners ace Hernandez
Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion reached two milestones in Toronto's 8-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
He broke open the game in the fourth inning by hitting his 40th homer of the season, putting him over the 100-RBI mark for the year. Encarnacion didn't hesitate when asked which number he's most proud of.
"Not many people make it to 100 RBIs so that's the bigger thing for me," he said.
Jays pitching coach Walton escapes serious injury
Pitching coach Bruce Walton suffered forearm contusions after being struck by a large piece of Encarnacion's bat after it shattered on a first-inning pitch.
He left the dugout area for precautionary X-rays, the team said.
"It's a dangerous situation and fortunately he was able to get his arms up in front of his face and that's where it was headed," Farrell said.
Encarnacion, who became the sixth major leaguer to reach the 100-RBI mark this year, belted a three-run blast off Mariners starter Felix Hernandez (13-8) in the five-run frame. He's the eighth Toronto player to reach the 40-homer plateau, a feat that has been accomplished 11 times in franchise history.
"This is a very good right-handed power hitter," said Jays manager John Farrell. "And he's having one heck of a year for us."
Encarnacion also moved closer to Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, who led the major leagues with 41 homers entering play Thursday night.
"I knew I could get 30, but not 40," Encarnacion said. "I never thought I could get to 40 home runs but that was part of my work in the off-season and I want to continue to do the same.
"I want to come back next year and try to hit 40 again."
Adam Lind also homered for Toronto (65-77) and Henderson Alvarez (9-12) pitched seven effective innings for the victory. Hernandez lasted just four innings for Seattle (69-75) and tied a career high by giving up seven earned runs.
"That was terrible right there," Hernandez said. "If you throw a ball in the middle of the plate, they're going to hit it. It's on me. I have to do something. The last three starts have been disappointing."
It was Alvarez's 14th quality start of the season.
"He's very happy knowing that he pitched against one of the greatest pitchers and we got a chance to win the game tonight," said a translator for Alvarez.
Relievers Brad Lincoln and Aaron Loup worked an inning apiece as the Blue Jays salvaged the finale of the three-game set in front of 13,756 fans at Rogers Centre. Jeff Mathis tied a career high with four hits as Toronto outhit the Mariners 13-7.
Lind gave Toronto the early lead with a two-run shot — his 10th homer of the year — in the first inning.
The Mariners got on the board in the next frame on a two-run double by Carlos Peguero. He hit a liner into left field that outfielder Rajai Davis misjudged.
Davis initially moved a few steps forward before turning around and stretching for the ball, which sailed past him and bounced off the wall.
Toronto's defensive play picked up in the third inning.
Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., tracked down a chopper near third base and made an off-balance throw across the diamond to nab Franklin Gutierrez by a step. Second baseman Kelly Johnson later showed nice range by diving to his right to come up with a ground ball and forcing out Kyle Seager at second base.
Davis also made a miscue on the bases in the fourth. After reaching on a single and stealing second, Davis ran for third when Mathis layed down a perfect bunt.
However, Davis bit on Seager's fake throw to first and ran too far past third base. Seager turned and threw to shortstop Brendan Ryan, who applied the tag for the second out.
The Toronto bats came alive after the play.
Anthony Gose doubled to move Mathis to third and Lawrie drove them both in with a sharp single to right field. Colby Rasmus drew a walk before Encarnacion tagged a 1-2 pitch for his second no-doubt homer in as many nights.
Encarnacion also leads the Blue Jays with 102 RBIs on the season.
Seattle's Dustin Ackley hit a solo shot to deep centre field in the seventh for his 11th homer of the year. Infielder Carlos Triunfel doubled in the ninth inning for his first major-league hit.
The Mariners will continue their six-game road trip Friday with a weekend set in Texas while Toronto will host the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series. Aaron Laffey (3-5) is scheduled to start against Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-5).