July 21, 2012
Encarnacion, Arencibia cook Bosox
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
BOSTON - The Blue Jays played the roll of party-poopers to the hilt Saturday night.
On a day when all the Fenway faithful stood and cheered former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek on ‘Thanks Tek Day’ in a pre-game ceremony, the Jays went out and threw a wrench into the proceedings.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the sixth inning, Edwin Encarnacion belted what may have been his longest home run of the season when he smashed a two-run homer into the parking lot behind the Green Monster to tie the game.
The shot cleared the Sports Authority sign atop the Monster and it would have been fitting if it had smashed through the windshield of the truck that was presented pre-game to Varitek.
It inspired the Jays to greater heroics including a solo home run by J.P. Arencibia and big two-run single by Brett Lawrie in the seventh as the Jays would go on to post a 7-3 victory to win the first two games of the series.
The Jays are operating without the bat and inspiration of injured Jose Bautista so it is incumbent on Encarnacion and others to pick up the slack.
“I feel great when I made that swing and we turned the game around, tied the game,” Encarnacion said.
He was asked if it was one of the longest homers he has ever hit.
“I don’t see this one because when the ball went over the wall you can’t see (where it lands),” he said. “But I hit that ball great, perfect.”
Better than his shot in Milwaukee earlier this year when he blasted one off the slide of mascot Bernie Brewer in left?
“I think so, yeah,” he said.
There’s no doubt, though, that his home run was the turning point in Saturday’s win. It gave the Jays a giant lift and they took it from there.
“It was huge, obviously, it tied the game,” Arencibia said of Encarnacion’s 26th homer of the season. “The feeling was like it was the entire game, that we were always in it. A two-run game it’s always a swing of the bat and anything can happen.”
The homer by Arencibia was the continuation of a good run at the plate for the catcher as over his past 11 games he is hitting .352 (12-for-34) with three homers and seven RBIs.
"I’ve been making adjustments and staying consistent," Arencibia said. "I’ve been trying to stay up the middle and I think it’s helped me.
“I was looking for a fastball (on his homer). (Aaron Cook) was throwing a lot of fastballs the entire game. He happened to leave that one in a good position where I could hit it.”
On the mound, the Jays received another solid performance from Carlos Villanueva.
Over 6 1/3 innings he allowed just four hits but one of them was a three-run home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second inning. But other than that he was next to perfect.
The Jays even had enough of a lead at the end to get both of their newly acquired pitchers into the game as J.A. Happ retired the final two outs in the seventh while Brandon Lyon worked a 1-2-3 ninth.
All in all, though, it’s an oddball situation for Happ and the Jays to find themselves in.
The left-hander is a starter by trade, but the Jays, not wanting to cause undue stress to the feelings of their current five starters, have said that for the time being Happ will be employed in the bullpen. He’ll remain there pending a bad outing by one of the starters not named Ricky Romero.
Happ is sort of like the sword of Damocles dangling over the heads of the remaining starters. So far, he’s been a motivating factor.
On Friday, Aaron Laffey passed the test by providing seven shutout innings. He’s not going anywhere.
Now you have Villanueva passing the test.
The veteran right-hander said he’s not concerned by Happ’s presence and his impending move into the rotation to take over one of the spots.
“We’re not worried about that,” Villanueva said. “If you’re worrying about that you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do.
“The one thing that I pride myself in is every time I’m out there I want the team to feel I give them a chance to win. Besides that, nothing’s really under my control.”
The Jays go for the sweep of the three-game this afternoon.
With a win they could move into fourth place in the East and dump Boston into the basement.