What's buzzing:

Eh Game

Edwin Encarnacion slugging it out for the inconsistent Blue Jays

Dustin Pollack
Eh Game

View photo

.
Blue Jays Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion

Blue Jays Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion (Getty Images)

It was a deep drive that took Baltimore Orioles outfielder Xavier Avery back to the warning track. It seemed for a moment that Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion was going to accomplish in 49 games what took him all of last season to do. He already had hit his 16th home run back in the third inning and if this baseball didn't die just shy of the 375-foot fence in left field at Rogers Centre, Encarnacion would have had his 17th —the same number of homers he hit in 134 games last season - in his final at-bat of what turned out to be a 6-2 Jays victory Monday night.

Instead he'll have to wait at least another day. With the Jays and Orioles playing the second of a three-game series Tuesday, it seems there wouldn't be a better night for Encarnacion to hit his 17th home run of the season. It was on this night a year ago — in his 38th game and 141st at-bat — that the 29-year-old hit his first home run of the season in a 13-4 Jays drubbing of the Chicago White Sox.

And in a Jays season that so far has been plagued and defined by inconsistency, Encarnacion's consistent power at the plate has helped lead Toronto through the first quarter of the season and remain in the American League wildcard race.

Jose Bautista hit .181 in April and only in the last few weeks has he begun to regain his form. Pitcher Ricky Romero, though 5-1, has struggled with his control, and, although Brandon Morrow pitched a complete game on May 19, in his next start he was shelled for six runs in just two-thirds of an inning. The list of inconsistent play goes on extending from the plate, to the mound, and to the bullpen.

Encarnacion's 16 home runs not only puts him atop the Jays in the HR category, it puts him second overall in the AL behind Texas Rangers slugger and early MVP favourite Josh Hamilton.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell believes the change in Encarnacion's swing mechanics has played a large part in the Jays DH's early-season success.

"The two-handed finish to his swing has caused it to be more compact, and I think a more consistently repeated swing path," Farrell told Gregor Chisholm of mlb.com in early May. "He's obviously hitting with a lot of confidence. We've had the benefit of seeing him every day and he goes into the box looking for a pitch and when he gets it, he hasn't missed it. There's a fundamental difference [in the mechanics]."

Ironically, after Bautista was walked 132 times last season, Jays fans cried out to general manager Alex Anthopoulos to find a power hitter via free agency or the trade market to put behind Bautista in the batting order and perhaps force opponents to pitch to the Jays' franchise centerpiece.

Instead Anthopoulos veered away from big-money long-term contracts. It was a good move, too, as Encarnacion is playing like one of the best power hitters in the American League while Bautista is still finding his footing nearly two months into the season.

View Comments (1)
  • 4 more medals stripped from 2008 Games

    4 more medals stripped from 2008 Games

    Eight years later, more athletes continue to be stripped of medals from the Beijing Olympics because of positive doping tests. Four athletes, including three Russians, had their medals taken away on Wednesday after their doping samples from 2008 … More »

    AP - Sports - 49 minutes ago
  • IOC sanctions six Olympians for failing dope tests at Beijing Games

    IOC sanctions six Olympians for failing dope tests at Beijing Games

    The International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday it had disqualified six sportspeople, including three Russian medalists, for failing doping tests at the Beijing 2008 Games. The sanctions come amid a crackdown on Olympic athletes' use of … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 11 minutes ago
  • Rules experts trying to simplify the complex game of golf

    Rules experts trying to simplify the complex game of golf

    For the last five years, the top rules experts in golf have come together from around the world to study a jigsaw puzzle. ''Everyone wants the game to be simple, but it's a complex game,'' Pagel, the USGA's senior director of rules, said in an … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 12 minutes ago
  • Argentine Del Potro gets wildcard for Shanghai Masters

    Argentine Del Potro gets wildcard for Shanghai Masters

    (Reuters) - Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro has been handed a wildcard entry into the Shanghai Masters following his battling silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 27-year-old, who has been hampered by wrist injuries for the past three years, … More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 4 minutes ago
  • Vera Caslavska, Czech gymnastics great, dies at 74

    Vera Caslavska, Czech gymnastics great, dies at 74

    Vera Caslavska, a seven-time Olympic gymnastics gold medalist who stood up against the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, has died. The Czech Olympic Committee said Wednesday that Caslavska died in Prague late Tuesday. Born on May 3, … More »

    AP - Sports - 4 hours ago