The Toronto Blue Jays rode a breakthrough sixth inning to victory on Wednesday, highlighted by a bases-clearing double off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki. As the Jays’ bats struggled to produce just three runs across the opening pair of games in Kansas City, their approach in the sixth inning of game five could be their blueprint for breaking through on the road and taking over this series.
Following a Ben Revere walk to open that inning, Josh Donaldson would get plunked by Edinson Volquez. With Jose Bautista coming to the dish and the Blue Jays desperately in need of a big hit, he put together one of the finest at-bats from Toronto this postseason.
Bautista can be guilty of swinging for the fences at times, and with his power, it’s difficult to blame him. This can throw off the plane of his swing, however, leading to pop ups. Bautista battled off several pitches in the zone, and exercised a great hitter’s eye on several pitches just barely off the outside edge of the plate. This was a masterclass in working an at-bat, and a great execution of a team-first offensive approach.
Then, more of the same. Edwin Encarnacion would work a walk of his own to bring across a run, and this patient approach is something the Jays will need to carry over to Kansas City, where the spacious confines do not lend themselves well to the home run ball. Patiently filling the bases also pays off in spades when the Blue Jays finally do connect, like Tulowitzki eventually did. Toronto has the knockout punch, but they need to land some body shots first.
A narrative has developed through the latter half of the season and postseason that the Blue Jays are a one-dimensional ball club. Home run or bust. It’s a lazy narrative, and frankly, an incorrect one. Toronto topped the majors in team walks in the 2015 regular season, and those turned a lot of solo shots into two-run home runs.
Revere’s leadoff walk in that inning was a breath of fresh air, and shows what a game-changer he can be for the rest of the lineup behind him when he manages to reach. The speedster hasn’t yet sparked the offense with any level of consistency, but has two hits and two walks over the Jays past two games. If he can kickstart more innings like the sixth, Toronto’s offense will give a generous hand to David Price and Marcus Stroman.
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