Edwin Encarnacion's outburst powers Blue Jays into share of first place
A week after David Ortiz became the first player with back-to-back multi-homer games in 2014, Edwin Encarnacion joined him — at the expense of Ortiz's Red Sox. Encarnacion homered twice in Toronto's 7-4 win on Tuesday night, then added another pair during Wednesday's 6-4 win — a victory that helped the Blue Jays (25-22) take over a share of first place in the AL East for the first time since April 19.
Encarnacion got his work done early in both games. On Tuesday, he hit a two-run shot off Felix Doubront in the third inning, then added another two-run blast in the fifth off Edward Mujica. On Wednesday, he hit a solo homer in the second inning off Clay Buchholz, then added a two-run dinger in the third, also at Buchholz's expense. Here's the last of those four, which cleared the Green Monster and traveled an estimated 395 feet:
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Encarnacion's homers helped make short work of the Red Sox starters. Doubront lasted just four innings while allowing five runs, while Buchholz worked 4 2/3 and allowed five runs (four earned). With ERAs of 5.12 and 6.32, respectively, the pair have been the weak links at the back of Boston's rotation.
Including his homer on Sunday in Texas, Encarnacion (.253/.333/.560) now has five in his last three games, and with a pair that he hit against the Indians on May 15, has seven homers in his last six games. Going back to May 6, he has 11 dingers in his last 15 games. The outburst has pushed his total to 13 on the year, third in the league behind the 15 of rookie sensation Jose Abreu and the 14 of Nelson Cruz, who homered on Wednesday as well.
The 31-year-old Encarnacion is no stranger to the long ball. His 42 homers in 2012 were good for fourth in the AL, and he added 36 last year, which ranked third. His 91 since the start of the 2012 season is the majors' third-highest total behind only Miguel Cabrera (95) and Chris Davis (92). That three-year, $29 million extension to which the Blue Jays signed him in mid-2012 continues to look better and better; he's making $9 million this year and $10 million next year, with a club option for $10 million for 2016.
Including Encarnacion's two homers from Wednesday, the Blue Jays now have an AL-high 65, 13 more than the next closest team, the White Sox. The Rockies have 63, though they have the advantage of playing a mile above sea level. Joining Encarnacion on the leaderboard from among the Blue Jays is Jose Bautista, whose 11 tie him for sixth in the league with Ortiz, and Colby Rasmus, whose nine tie him for 11th in the league; additionally, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera each have seven homers. Thanks to those sluggers, the Jays' offense is cranking out 4.85 runs per game, good for fourth in the AL. With the win, the Blue Jays are now tied with the Yankees and half a game ahead of the Orioles, and they're the only team in the division with a positive run differential.