In just 29 hours the Toronto Blue Jays played a three game series with the Kansas City Royals this week. With their weekend and Monday action postponed due to weather and piercing ice the Blue Jays remained well rested and stole the series away from the floundering Royals. Runs scored was heavily in favour of the Blue Jays 31-12 which was the result of two double digit blow outs.
The Jays are getting the job done in all ways right now; here are a few key players in this series.
4-6 with 6 RBIs in an afternoons work isn’t too bad for the promising 25 year old prospect, but that was just the cap on the strong start to his season for the Jays. In four games played (KC series and one game in Cleveland) Hernandez has hit .421 avg., has 6 RBI, with a .450 OBP and five extra base hits. He also has one walk and stolen base a piece.
Hernandez, acquired last season in a deadline deal with the Houston Astros for pitcher Francisco Liriano, has made that deal a win-win for both teams. Houston and Liriano get the World Series and Toronto look to have a legitimate outfielder who can hit in the top half of their line up.
While limited, Teoscar’s numbers this season are supported by his play to end out 2017 when he was called up. In 26 games he it .261 avg. with 8 home runs and 20 RBIs. Hernandez is showing that he can contribute on a big league level and his defence adds another element to the team as well.
The question now is what do Toronto do with him when Morales and Donaldson are back from DL stints? Hernandez is playing himself into a regular position on the team and is showing that the he has out grown the minor leagues. With Pearce, Granderson, and Grichuk all outfield options realistically this puts pressure on Morales to produce once he is back, and on Grichuk to get his bat straightened out. Regardless, Hernandez is a totally exciting piece the Jays have clicking right now and he should continue to impress given the chance.
The guys is a likeable character. I may even be writing that he is a positive influence on the team if all he contributed was some salsa dancing to celebrate Blue Jays home runs! Besides his celebrations Solarte has been consistent for the Blue Jays and repaying them for the game time he’s been getting.
To start the season so far he is just shy of .300 avg. hitting .296. To go along with that average Solarte has nine RBIs and seven extra base hits. What is really impressive about him is his patience at the plate. Hitting mostly from the cleanup spot in the line up, Solarte has drawn eleven walks, just one behind team leader Justin Smoak. Not selfishly hacking away with men on base, or looking to splash big regardless of the situation, Solarte is showing every bit of his experience in the majors.
Despite his high amount of walks, Solarte can mash, too. An unlikely duo atop the Jays team leaderboard for home runs, Solarte and shortstop starter Aledmys Diaz each share the top spot with four dingers. To go with that bat, Solarte is solid on D as well. In the series finale with the Royals Solarte garnered a rowdy round of applause from the Jays fans after a diving play in the outfield to stop a ball and swing it to first for an impressive out.
He’s got offence, defence, veteran presence, and charisma. This is what the Blue Jays needed in such a transitional season, and Solarte is providing it all for his teammates and fans.
Colour me surprised with this one, but Luke Maile is clutch! More than that, Maile is consistently hitting in high intensity situations and bringing runs home for the Blue Jays. In the third game of this series with Kansas City, J.A. Happ didn’t have his best stuff and it was the likes of Maile who eventually helped in picking up his pitcher and hitting a long RBI single to the outfield to increase the team lead.
He is hitting .476 avg. in 25 plate appearances this season. In this time he has racked up 8 RBIs, good for third on the team and eclipses his 2017 total of 6! He is taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to him which is not only beneficial for his own stats and the win/loss of the team, but also of his catching battery mate Russell Martin. Martin who has been injury plagued in the last few seasons can breathe a little easier knowing that he isn’t needed for his (at times) big bat in the line up. As well, Maile is a good defensive catcher and has a now two year history with the majority of the pitching staff providing comfort in the thought of him taking over the catcher position if needed.
Maile has been a shock so far for the Jays, but the trust he has from John Gibbons now should prove valuable to his confidence levels at the plate. Toronto is happy to see this likeable guy getting some results for his team.
Sure, it was just the Kansas City Royals who after this sweep fall to 3-13 on the season but that shouldn’t discredit Toronto’s success. Good teams beat bad teams, and compete with the elite which is exactly what comes next for the Blue Jays with the New York Yankees up next.
The good news is that despite losing their opening two games to the Yankees, Toronto took the following to for a series split and now are sitting comfortably ahead of the thought-to-be slumbering giants. Even more good news – Aaron Sanchez takes the mound for the series opener in New York. Now is the time the prove the doubters wrong and keep the steak alive. Anyone up for another series win?