TORONTO - Brett Lawrie brought Toronto Blue Jays fans to their feet after tripling to left-centre field, bringing in the lead run in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday.
The same fans were standing and applauding as Lawrie toured the bases at a much slower pace three innings later.
Lawrie broke up a 3-3 tie in the seventh by hitting a 2-2 pitch into the left field seats off Royals reliever Louis Coleman to help deliver a 4-3 victory for the Jays before 18,292 noisy fans at the Rogers Centre.
Storms were brewing both inside and outside the ballpark.
Lawrie provided lightning by racing around the bases and sliding into third without a throw with two out in the fourth.
Then, with his home run in the seventh, he drew thunder inside the dome.
“I’d never faced (Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar) before,” said Lawrie.
The rookie pointed to an at-bat in the fourth that got the Jays going.
Hochevar started the game going 10 up, nine down with Toronto's J.P. Arencibia earning a third-inning walk. Hochevar then started the fourth by grazing Yunel Escobar with a 1-1 pitch.
“That really fired us up,” said Lawrie of watching Escobar drop a Dave Stewart Death Stare on Hochevar.
Jays slugger Jose Bautista followed up the play with the club's first hit, whacking the first pitch he saw for his 37th homer.
“There’s not a rule which says you can’t pitch inside,” Hochevar told reporters after the game. “If (Escobar) is going to stand and stare at me when I pitch inside, that’s fine. I’m not out there trying to hit guys or hurt anyone. But I’m going to pitch inside” ... Escobar is the seventh batter Hochevar has hit this season in what was his 167th inning of work. It's also the fifth time Escobar has been hit in 519 plate appearances ... The Royals scored in the first after Alex Gordon was hit by the first pitch of the game from Jays starter Ricky Romero. Gordon then stole second and scored on a Butler single.
Jays reliever Frank Francisco pitched a scoreless ninth but made things interesting issuing a lead-off walk to Melky Cabrera. Billy Butler then lined out to short. After Cabrera stole second, Francisco secured his 11th save by whiffing Eric Hosmer and getting Jeff Francoeur out on a fly ball to right. Francisco has not allowed a run in his previous 11 innings ... Toronto's Casey Janssen pitched a scoreless eighth running to up his shutout streak to 13 innings ... The Jays' Jesse Litsch pitched a scoreless seventh with the score tied, which was impressive given he surrendered a leadoff double to Butler. Listch retired Hosmer on a ground ball, struck out Francoeur looking and retired Johnny Giavotella on a fly ball to right field ... Litsch gained the win to go to 5-3 ... Gordon hit a solo shot, his 17th, to lead off the fifth ... Romero pitched six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and four walks in his 109-pitch outing ... Escobar ran third baseman Lawrie off a ball popped to shallow left, resulting in a Mike Moustakas single in the second. But no harm was done as Escobar helped turn a double-play off an Alcides Escobar’s ground ball
More on Morrow
Jays starter Brandon Morrow allowed 11 extra base hits and six runs in 4 2/3 innings Tuesday in a loss to the Royals. “When Brandon has been dominating, it’s been times when he has been overpowering and when he has been much more consistent,” Jays manager John Farrell said. “The key is understanding what you have on a given day, and going about it in a way of understanding, ‘Hey this is what I’ve got today? Here’s how I have to execute through certain situations.’” ... Like Al Leiter and 101 other pitchers before him, Morrow tends to undo the top, bottom and throw the next pitch with more velocity and the result isn’t pretty. “That’s where the competitive nature comes out,” said Farrell of Morrow wanting to overpower hitters. “That’s where you need a delicate balance ... You never want to get beat on your third pitch at the same time if you overthrow you’re sacrificing location.” ... Farrell said Morrow has to have the awareness to say, “OK take a step back, take a breather and execute one pitch at a time” rather than thinking, ‘OK I’m in a game with two on, let me get out of this.’ You’re skipping steps in there.”
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said the most attractive things that led to him dealing Kelly Johnson to the Jays for Aaron Hill and John McDonald were bodies (2-for-1), improved defence and a potential cut in strikeouts ... McDonald and Willie Bloomquist, the Arizona back-up who took over when Steven Drew broke his leg, are scheduled to alternate at shortstop ... “Aaron’s only two years away from hitting 36 homers and we think working with (hitting coach) Don Baylor will help,” Towers said. ... “(Johnson) has a ton of power, he’ll hit balls out to left field there.” ... Johnson had 132 strikeouts in 114 games, while Hill had 53 strikeouts in 104 games ... The reason for the Jays making the deal? To get a look at Johnson who, thanks to his 2010 season, could be a Type A or Type B free agent ... Remember, it was Towers who a year ago nicknamed Jays GM Alex Anthoupoulos the “asset collector” in reference to the Jays collecting additional choices for the June draft.
John Gibbons, former Jays boss and now the Royals bench coach/mastermind behind all the Royals double switches at the Rogers Centre, has lost dropped weight and is sporting braces, and that’s the tooth ... Bantam champions from each Canadian province and the Vaughn Vikings were guests of the Jays for batting practice. Litsch signed autographs and then the players paraded around the warning track. The Baseball Canada nationals begain Thursday morn with Manitoba facing Saskatchewan and Vaughan playing Quebec at 8:30 at Vaughan Grove. The gold medal game is Sunday. North York won the Ontario title ... RIP Mike Flanagan. The 59-year-old Orioles broadcaster was found dead in Baltimore Wednesday. Flanagan pitched for the Jays from 1987-1990. Jays bullpen coach Pat Hentgen and umpire John Hirshbeck were saddened to hear the news.