Marcus Semien is on a tear and so are the Toronto Blue Jays.
Semien hit two more home runs Monday night at Yankee Stadium, including a grand slam, powering the Blue Jays to an 8-0 victory over the Bronx Bombers.
The former Cal star (2006-08) has hit five home runs in the past five games and Toronto has won all five of them. They are now 74-62 and trail the Yankees by just 3.5 games in the race for second place in the AL East and a wildcard spot.
“For me, when my mechanics and timing are sound, I think I see the ball better and I’m more confident,” Semien said Monday. “This time of the year you really get a good feel for what you’re doing and you see the results.
“It was a sweep that we had at home and come into Yankee Stadium first game and (win) 8-0. I think that will give you some confidence.”
Semien’s hot stretch — and the Blue Jays’ win streak — began last Wednesday when he homered in a 5-4 win over the Orioles.
Two nights later, facing the team that launched his major league career, Semien delivered a three-run walk-off home run in the ninth inning as Toronto completed a comeback from six runs down to beat the Oakland A’s 11-10.
"It's huge," Semien said. “Every win is so important right now. Biggest at-bat of the year for me, obviously.”
Then on Sunday the Berkeley High graduate homered again as the Blue Jays completed their sweep of the A’s with an 8-0 win.
Semien, who will turn 31 a week from Friday, is having the greatest season of his career a year after the A’s let him walk as a free agent. He signed a one-year $18 million deal with Toronto, betting on himself that if he had a good year he’d have suitors on the free-agent market lining up with big multi-year offers.
Semien is winning that bet.
He already has a career-high 37 home runs, and with three more can become just the fifth primary second baseman (playing at least 75 percent of his games at the position) to reach 40. The record for a second baseman is 43, by Davey Johnson in 1973, when he joined Braves teammates Hank Aaron and Darrell Evans as the first trio of teammates to each hit 40 in a season.
Semien was third in the American League MVP voting in 2019 with the A’s and it’s reasonable to imagine him landing in that same spot this year. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is a lock to win, given his MLB-leading 43 home runs and his 9-1 pitching ledger.
Semien’s teammate, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has 40 home runs runs, will contend for the runner-up position.
But Semien’s credentials are impressive. Consider where he ranks in all of the major leagues in these categories:
— Home runs: tied for 4th with 37
— Extra-base hits: tied for 1st with 73
— Runs scored: 4th with 97
— Total bases: 2nd with 295
— At-bats: 2nd with 546
— Plate appearances: 1st with 606
— Doubles: tied for 5th with 34
— RBI: tied for 17th with 87
— Slugging percentage: 12th at .540
— Wins above replacement (WAR): 1st at 5.9
Throw in 14 stolen bases in 15 attempts and Semien has assembled quite a resume. It has the Blue Jays in contention for the postseason and will serve him well when the offseason arrives.
Cover photo of Marcus Semien homering Monday at Yankee Stadium by Wendell Cruz, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo