TORONTO - In an effort to snap his team out of their current doldrums, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell had three of his main cogs take the day off.
Sitting on the bench for the Saturday matinee against the Los Angeles Angels and not having to face right-hander Jered Weaver — lucky them — were Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus and Aaron Hill.
All three players have been slumping badly at the plate as of late and the feeling was a day off may prove to be reinvigorating what with the Dog Days of August and all.
We’ll have to wait and see how the rested players bounce back. Meanwhile, the remaining troops performed beyond the call of duty as they hung an 11-2 thumping on the Angels and the ‘ace’ of their staff.
Leading the charge was the slumping Adam Lind who awoke in the fifth inning when, with the bags full, he drilled a 2-0 pitch over the fence in right for his second grand slam of the season. It was his 20th homer of the summer and 100th of his major league career.
One batter later, Mark Teahen, making his first start with the Jays and playing right field in place of Bautista, banged one over the same fence for his first homer in a Toronto uniform.
It was the third home run of the game for the Jays as Edwin Encarnacion slammed a two-run shot in the opening inning to set the tone at the Rogers Centre.
Lind would add a sac fly, giving him five RBIs on the day. He came into the game with just eight hits in his last 56 at-bats for a .143 average.
In his past few games, though, his good stroke has reappeared and he has been seeing the ball much better.
“Yeah, I feel definitely better than I did like the whole month of July,” Lind said. “I think that’s just how it goes in baseball, things like that happen. You have to keep battling and one day it just clicks and you start to figure it out.”
It’s one thing to feel your stroke coming back but there’s nothing like a long bomb to confirm it.
“Homers can cleanse a lot of things I guess,” Lind said with a big grin. “Yeah, it feels good, especially in a big situation versus Weaver.”
The past four weeks have been a struggle for both Lind and Bautista. When a team’s three and four hitters are slumping it’s a tough grind for everyone in the lineup.
“It’s hard when the heart (of the team), me and Jose aren’t doing what we’re capable of doing,” he said. “It’s frustrating but the good thing about baseball is that (Farrell) keeps putting us in there. I know he has confidence in us and we’re going to get it, it’s just a matter of time.”
And yes, Lind was quite aware that he was stuck on No. 99.
“Yeah, I knew that,” he said. “The way I’ve been feeling (at the plate) I honestly thought it wasn’t going to happen. But I got a pitch, was aggressive with it, and got a grannie.”
That the Jays would launch such an offensive explosion against a pitcher of Weaver’s ability is miraculous given how flat they’ve played the past two games.
Weaver came into the game having won eight of his past nine decisions and carried a lifetime mark of 7-1 against the Jays, including a 15-strikeout performance out on the coast in April.
But following Teahen’s home run he was gone with the eight runs he allowed, equalling his career high.
If Farrell were to try and give a day off to all his slumping bats he wouldn’t be able to field a team.
About the only players hitting on a consistent basis of late have been the inscrutable Encarnacion, whose two-run homer in the opening inning extended his hit streak to 12 games, and leadoff batter Yunel Escobar, who led off the inning with a single.
“There were three guys I felt like could use a day down,” Farrell said of giving Bautista, Rasmus and Hill the day off. “(Rasmus) has played every inning since he arrived here following the trade. Felt like in just talking with him he went from playing fairly regularly to playing every day and he could use a day.”
The day off for Bautista, meanwhile, was the first of the season that wasn’t related to an injury.
“I think Jose has been grinding a bit of late and considering the matchup and considering the need there,” Farrell said. “The only time he has been down was because of hit by pitch or turned ankle, some other physical reason and just felt like he could use a blow today.”
The recent additions to the Jays in the form of Brett Lawrie and Rasmus have given Farrell a deeper bench to draw from.
“Much deeper,” Farrell aid of his bench. “When we were going with an extra pitcher obviously that eliminated one guy on the bench but now that we’ve got the ability to rotate some guys in, that in many cases, have the ability to start for many clubs.
“Rajai (Davis) is in there today (centre field) and Johnny (McDonald, second base) is always on call as we know and has stepped in and has done a very good job. He’s always prepared and ready to go.”
On Saturday, so too was Lind.