Jays' Alvarez strong in win over Tigers

Toronto Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion (R) is congratulated by team mate Yunel Escobar after he hit a...

Toronto Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion (R) is congratulated by team mate Yunel Escobar after he hit a home run in the fourth inning of their American League MLB baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Toronto July 28, 2012. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

BOB ELLIOT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:09 AM ET

TORONTO - Toronto Blue Jays caps with the new logo are flying off shelves from the Rogers Centre to Vancouver.

And in the Dominican Republic, too.

“Everyone watches the Blue Jays on TV with the MLB package,” said Edwin Encarnacion. “People watch because everyone loves Jose Bautista.”

They don’t mind watching Encarnacion, who was talking after he homered to right against Anibal Sanchez breaking a 1-1 tie for the club lead in homers with his 28, as the Jays defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-1 before 41,832 fans at Rogers Centre Saturday afternoon.

“There are plenty of Blue Jays hats where I live,” said Encarnacion, who grew up in San Pedro de Macoris and now resides further east in La Romana.

When the Jays had Alfredo Griffin, Damaso Garcia, George Bell and Tony Fernandez almost everyone on a moped or scooter either wore a Los Angeles Dodgers or a Jays cap.

While Bautista grew up wanting to be the next Bell, Encarnacion’s favorite was third baseman Andujar Cedeno a Houston Astros infielder.

“He played the same position, was from the same home town,” Encarnacion said. “His brother Domingo was with the Jays. Andujar is probably the best ever from my town until ...”

Encarnacion didn’t finish the sentence. It was clear he was thinking of himself and caught himself. Not sure about Cedeno, but Bell would have finished his thought.

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Steady Hendy: Henderson Alvarez worked seven innings allowing five hits -- Delmon Young single and a Brennan Boesch double to the gap in the fourth to tie the game 1-1 a back-to-back -- to lower his ERA to 4.43 and even his record at 7-7 ... Up 2-1 in the sixth, Alvarez issued back-to-back, one-out walks to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on 10 pitches. He escaped by retiring Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch on fly balls ... “He walked around the mound, got himself together,” manager John Farrell told reporters, “I thought he showed some savvy.

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Omar the hit maker: With his three-hit game Friday infielder Omar Vizquel has 2,861 career hits, 43rd all-time, five behind former Chicago White Sox Harold Baines. He’s 11 hits behind Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and 12 behind Babe Ruth, who had 2,873 hits ... “Isn’t that crazy,” said Vizquel, who then flashed his impish smile and added “I didn’t know he had that many hits.”

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Deep to right: Encarnacion said his homer to right was his third opposite field homer of the season ... “Later in the count I try to stay back,” he said. “Early I look for my pitch, I need something to drive.” ...Three-year, US$29 million extension aside, this has a dream season for Encarnacion compared 2010 when he tried to replace Scott Rolen at third. He hit .244 with 21 homers, 51 RBIs in 96 games during the 2010 season and was granted free agency. The Jays re-signed him. ... “My left wrist is healthy, I’m probably lighter 12 pounds, I’m faster and I have a more compact swing,” Encarnacion said. While Bautista works out in capital of Santo Domingo in the off season -- before and after David Ortiz arrives -- Encarnacion works out in San Pedro during the off season with New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano ... He now leads the Jays with 72 RBIs ... He walked in the fifth and seventh and now has 20 bases on ball times this month and 50 this season. Only once in his eight-year career has he earned 50 free passes or more: 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds (61).

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In Game: The numbers jump off the page. After Colby Rasmus, Yunel Escobar and Encarnacion homered the Jays have 47 more homers than the Tigers with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder: 47 more in one less game played. Now, that we have lobbied for hitting coach Dwayne Murphy to get a contract extenstion ... Lefty J.A. Happ, still waiting for a chance to break into the rotation, walked lead-off hitter Austin Jackson to begin the eighth, then retired pinch hitter Ryan Rayburn and Cabrera on a double play ball. He set down the rest of the Tigers in order, including Fielder on a ground ball ... Making his first start since being scratched Wednesday night Escobar hit a solo homer leading off the sixth. Escobar showed a strong arm in the field as well ... Rajai Davis doubled to open the seventh, stole third and scored when Rasmus hit a two-run shot to right. Rasmus has 63 RBIs. He was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals a year ago July 27 ... Tiger manager Jim Leyland had an excellent point in the seventh as it appeared on replays that Brett Lawrie, returning to second to tag on Travis Snider’s fly ball, and Encarnacion, who had started from first, passed each other. Both were retreating.

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca


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