Her­nan­dez leads Jays past Tigers

Toronto’s rookie out­fielder gives team 8-2 win over Detroit

Northern News (Kirkland Lake) - - SPORTS - JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL

TORONTO — Left-fielder Teoscar Her­nan­dez was so ex­cited by the big­gest game of his young ca­reer that he couldn’t wait to see his fam­ily vis­it­ing him in Toronto. Un­for­tu­nately, that meant rush­ing out of the club­house be­fore any­one else got to speak with him.

The 24-year-old Her­nan­dez hit home runs in back-to-back in­nings and bat­ted in five runs to power Toronto past the Detroit Tigers 8-2 on Sun­day after­noon to be­come the first Blue Jays rookie with a mul­ti­homer game since J.P. Aren­cibia did it on July 22, 2011. He also added a sin­gle and scored a run in only his sev­enth game with Toronto.

“If you’ve been around the game for a while it’s nice to see the wideeyed look, the ex­cite­ment,” said vet­eran in­fielder Dar­win Bar­ney, who went 4 for 4 on the day. “It brings some en­ergy to these games where maybe both teams aren’t nec­es­sar­ily where they want to be. There’s a lot to be played for right now for some peo­ple so it was fun to watch.”

Her­nan­dez played 41 games for the Hous­ton Astros in 2016 and one game for them in 2017 be­fore com­ing to Toronto with vet­eran out­fielder Nori Aoki in a trade for pitcher Fran­cisco Liri­ano on July 31. Al­though he had pre­vi­ously played in 48 MLB games, Her­nan­dez still qual­i­fies as a rookie since he had less than 130 at-bats head­ing into Sun­day’s game.

His en­thu­si­asm on and off the field is a wel­come ad­di­tion to a Blue Jays team that will be missing the post-sea­son for the first time in three years.

“I told him con­grats ev­ery time he came through the dugout,” said Toronto man­ager John Gib­bons. “They’re get­ting a lot of back­slap­ping so they don’t need a lot from me, re­ally. Kid’s got a big smile. Kid’s got en­ergy, en­thu­si­asm. One of those guys that brings en­ergy.”

Her­nan­dez hit his sec­ond homer in a four-run fifth in­ning that saw ev­ery Toronto (66-77) bat­ter come to the plate. Short­stop Richard Urena, an­other Septem­ber call-up, also played well with a lead­off sin­gle in the first in­ning that he later scored on.

J.A. Happ (8-10) struck out nine over six in­nings of work, al­low­ing two runs — one earned — as the Blue Jays won the three-game se­ries with back-to-back wins. Luis San­tos made his third MLB ap­pear­ance, pitch­ing three in­nings of score­less re­lief to earn his first ca­reer save.

Happ’s solid per­for­mance is wel­come news for the Blue Jays who had to end right-han­der Aaron Sanchez’s sea­son af­ter Sun­day’s game. Sanchez has strug­gled with a nag­ging blis­ter on his throw­ing hand all year and Toronto will not test it, in­stead let­ting him re­cu­per­ate in the off-sea­son.

Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer for Detroit’s (60-82) only of­fence. Ani­bal Sanchez (3-4) strug­gled, giv­ing up seven runs on 12 hits over 4 2/3 in­nings. Jeff Fer­rell, Ar­tie Lewicki and for­mer Blue Jay Daniel Nor­ris came out of the Tigers bullpen, al­low­ing only one un­earned run.

Her­nan­dez added to Toronto’s lead with a two-run homer in the fourth in­ning, driv­ing in Ryan Goins ahead of him. Her­nan­dez’s hit was just over the out­field wall with Detroit cen­tre-fielder JaCoby Jones climb­ing the wall in an ef­fort to make a jump­ing catch.

Kinsler got the Tigers on the board in the next in­ning, putting his 17th home run over the left­field fence, a two-run shot that also brought home Dixon Machado. Machado had reached base on Urena’s er­ror.

Kevin Pil­lar’s drib­bling sin­gle be­tween first and sec­ond cashed in Jose Bautista in the fifth to make it 4-2 and ad­vance Mo­rales to sec­ond. That set the stage for Her­nan­dez’s sec­ond homer of the game, a 355-foot blast to right field that gave Toronto a five-run lead and brought the 39,797 in at­ten­dance at Rogers Cen­tre to their feet.

“Stand­ing in the on-deck cir­cle and you see a guy go deep like that a cou­ple of times all you want to do is go deep be­hind him,” said Bar­ney. “It’s fun to watch a guy come up here, have ex­cite­ment, spark some things and make it hap­pen. Hope­fully he can keep it go­ing.”

Her­nan­dez added to his im­pres­sive out­ing in the sev­enth in­ning when he scored on a passed ball with Luke Maile at the plate to give Toronto an 8-2 ad­van­tage.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Toronto Blue Jays' rookie Teoscar Her­nan­dez hits a two-run homer off Detroit Tigers pitcher Ani­bal Sanchez dur­ing fourth in­ning Ma­jor League baseball ac­tion in Toronto, on Sun­day.

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