May 10, 2012
Jays easily handle TwinsNo need for Guerrero on this night
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
MINNEAPOLIS - No need for Vlad’s bat this night.
Vladimir Guerrero and his potent stick may be signed and eventually be on its way to the Toronto Blue Jays, but against the lowly Minnesota Twins, the troops on hand would do.
With the double-whammy of timely hitting and aggressive base running, the Jays scored a 6-2 victory at Target Field that marked the third consecutive win for starter Henderson Alvarez, whose record now stands at 3-2.
Leading the hit parade for the Jays was Yunel Escobar, who collected four singles along with a walk and scored three runs.
“Yunel with the four hits in the two hole and good swings by both Brett (Lawrie) and Colby (Rasmus) as well,” Jays manager John Farrell said of his offence that cranked out 10 hits. “But I thought we ran the bases outstanding tonight. We took the extra base when we had an opportunity.”
The Jays wasted little time this game to surge into a lead as in they posted two runs in the first inning.
Escobar showed more aggressive base running in the third to add another run. He opened with a squib infield single and advanced to second when Bautista was hit by a pitch. Home plate ump Bill Welke initially ruled the ball struck Bautista's bat for a strike, but ultimately sanity prevailed.
Edwin Encarnacion followed with a hot shot to third that Trevor Plouffe made a good play on. He threw to second to just nail Bautista, but Escobar never stopped running rounding third and slid home with the run.
Lawrie then drove in Encarnacion with a single for his second RBI of the game. On a ball that got away from catcher Ryan Doumit, Lawrie zipped to third and then scored on a double by Colby Rasmus that upped the lead to 5-0.
Alvarez, who tossed a complete-game shutout in his previous start, had his streak of shutout innings end at 16 when the Twins scored an unearned run in the third. He also gave up a solo home run to Josh Willingham in the sixth.
In his seven innings, Alvarez allowed the two runs on seven hits, walked three and struck out two.
“He’s just matured and he has learned how to control the game a little more,” Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia said of Alvarez. “He made pitches when he needed to make pitches and we’ve been outstanding on double plays (three more this night) all year and it happened again all night as he was able to get the pitch when he needed to, was able to keep the ball down.”
Signing Guerrero to a minor-league deal is not a full-fledged sign of panic but it’s certainly a warning shot.
Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, on a conference call, did his best to downplay the signing.
“It’s news because of who Vladimir Guerrero is,” Anthopoulos said. “But there are no assurances, there is no financial commitment. We’re going to lay eyes on him and evaluate him. There’s no such thing as a bad minor-league signing. It’s a chance to add a talented player on a minor-league contract.
“There is no risk. The upside is that he could play very well and be a plus for us.”
Bautista, meanwhile, thought it was a great move.
”He can fit as a DH and can certainly come off the bench late as a power threat,” Bautista said. “So having him is going to be a huge weapon. Any team should be improved by signing Guerrero.”
Bautista, however, wouldn’t go as far as saying the Jays needed to add a bat.
“It’s not about needing it or not. It’s a way to improve your club,” Bautista said. “We have a good team and we’re playing great, but I think bringing him in makes us better.”
Guerrero, a nine-time all-star and former Montreal Expo, will play himself into shape at extended spring training. Then if all goes well he’ll be moved along and get into minor-leagues games either at triple-A Las Vegas or double-A New Hampshire.
In his career, Guerrero has 2,590 hits and 449 home runs.
Last year with the Orioles he had 562 at-bats and hit .290 with 13 homers and 63 RBI. In 2010 with Texas, he hit .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBI.
When he arrives, Bautista said he’ll be a good fit.
“When you have a guy like that, with a defined role, I think he’s going to be a very productive player,” Bautista said. “He probably wants to prove to people that he can still play. He wouldn’t play this year if he didn’t plan on playing next year. So I’m sure he’s going to prove himself to try and get signed for next year.
“So, he’s going to play with a chip on his shoulder. When you’re such an accomplished player and you have something additional to play for, it’s just going to make you even better.”