It was a sleepy kind of night in front of the smallest crowd to watch a big league baseball game in Toronto in almost three years.
And then a White Sox coach decided to wake up Blue Jays star Josh Donaldson and the rest of a team that has a rather nice early-season flair for the dramatic going.
After Sox first base coach Darryl Boston blew a whistle when Donaldson came to the plate in the sixth inning — yes, an actual whistle — the Bringer of Rain blasted an opposite field homer for the Jays first run of the game.
Two innings later Russell Martin roused the crowd of 16,629 at the Rogers Centre by following in kind with his first home run of the season. And for the third consecutive game, the Jays won in come-from-behind fashion, doubling up the Sox, 4-2.
“I feel like I’m pretty intense anyhow,” Donaldson said of Boston’s odd tactic. “I would say it kind of locks me in and focus maybe increases a little bit.”
You could see that focus when Donaldson crossed the plate and started whistling right back at the White Sox, who lost for the first time this season (2-1). Normally, so goes the peculiar Boston antic, he blows the whistle after a good defensive play.
But when Donaldson heard it as he approached the plate, he dialled in.
“I guess he deems it to be appropriate. I felt it would be appropriate to blow it right back at him,” said Donaldson, who has had a home run in each of his last four meetings against the White Sox. “I felt like I would return the favour.”
And just like that, the Jays have a 3-2 record, the first time it has topped the .500 mark since the 2016 season. A year ago, they didn’t get their third win until the 14th game and their first three-game winning streak wasn’t polished off until May 1.
Never mind that the Jays were held to just four hits, when three of them were home runs, it hardly mattered.
They got a solid effort from starter Jaime Garcia in his Toronto debut. The left-hander allowed just one run on four hits and then handed it over to the bullpen. As has been the case so far this season, they were solid with Seung-whan Oh getting his first win as a Jay and Roberto Osuna pitching a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save of the season.
“I think that’s going to be our formula in order for us to have success,” Donaldson said. “Do I feel like we can get ahead and hold on to leads? Sure. But I think for the majority of our games our starting pitching is hopefully going to keep us in those and we believe that to be true.
“From what our bullpen has shown this far, they’re going to be tough. Any time you can have guys coming out and putting up zeros that gives our side time to catch up if we are down.”
NOT SO CROWDED HOUSE
After solid weekend crowds for the four-game series against the Yankees, the expected dramatic drop off in attendance hit hard on Monday.
The paid attendance of 16,629 was the lowest to watch the Jays play at the dome since May 27, 2015 when just 15,463 were on hand.
This was not a surprise, however, as season ticket sales are well down and an early-week game in April against a non-division opponent isn’t necessarily a solid draw.
But Donaldson believes that if they blast it, they will come.
“Maybe people were coming into this not having high expectations for our team, but if we continue to play well and put a good product on the field I know this city and the city’s going to get behind us,” Donaldson said. “The fact of it is we need to go out there and play very well and I believe we can do that.”
Though Martin is a notoriously slow starter, he came through in the clutch with the game winning blast on Monday.
And that’s been the way of this team in their three wins so far.
They scored 10 in the seventh inning or later against the Yankees and added three more vs. the White Sox
“It definitely shows what kind of character we’ve got,” Martin said of the come-from-behind wins. “It’s early but three wins in a row definitely feels good.
“Pitching is really keeping us in ball games. It allows you to make a comeback and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
All of the Sox offence came from one big man. Welington Castillo gave his team a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the fourth and another in the seventh to retake the lead … The third Jays homer came from shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who roped a line-drive over the left-field wall for an insurance run in the eighth … High on the list of impressive bullpen work was Ryan Tepera striking out Matt Davidson and Castillo in the eighth … … Donaldson’s homer was the Jays first run of the game, something that was the case for 18 of his 33 round trippers last season … The Jays have now recorded at least one homer in each of their five games, their longest such streak since 2011 … The first 16 of Garcia’s 18 outs were by strikeout or ground ball.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies