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Edwin Encarnacion Homers Again, Blue Jays Score Seven Behind Henderson Alvarez

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 29: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs the bases after a home run during MLB action at the Rogers Centre April 29, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 29: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs the bases after a home run during MLB action at the Rogers Centre April 29, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
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Mariners 2, Blue Jays 7

On July 31, 2009, the Blue Jays sent Scott Rolen to the Cincinnati Reds for two young pitchers in Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke as well as someone named Edwin Elpidio Encarancion to fill in at third after Rolen's departure. We all saw that Encarnacion had some potential upside (hitting 26 homers in 2008 for the Reds), but his below-average play at third resulted in the Jays optioning Encarnacion to Las Vegas on June 20, 2010 in favour of calling up Jarrett Hoffpauir.

Exactly one day later, in a complete surprise, Alex Anthopoulos announced that Encarnacion was designated for assignment and that he was taken off the 40-man roster. Most of us thought that there was no way he was going to pass through waivers, but he did. None of the other 29 teams wanted the Jays' discarded third baseman. But by July 2 of that year, the Jays brought Encarnacion back on the roster and he stayed on there until November 12, when he was exposed to waivers and picked up by the Oakland A's. But after a few weeks, the A's decided that they did not really want him and he was granted free agency and eventually re-signed with the Jays later in December.

Edwin Encaranacion is the Blue Jays' best hitter so far this season, and he continued his tear by hitting a huge go-ahead line drive homer in the bottom of the 6th inning. Encarnacion got on base every single plate appearance today, walking twice and getting plunked once. Encarnacion has hit a home run in every game this series against the Mariners and his holding on to a 3-game home run streak. Encarnacion actually has had a 4-game home streak with the Jays from September 30 to October 3, 2010.

When Encarnacion was hit by Steve Delabar's 94 mph fastball in the bottom of the 8th, his teammates stepped up to avenge the injustice. Jose Bautista and Encarnacion had a double steal on the first pitch when Rajai Davis was at bat, causing Charlie Furbush to intentionally walk Davis (huh?) to face Brett Lawrie. Lawrie line the first pitch he saw for his first double of the season, scoring Bautista and Encarnacion and pusing Davis to 3rd. Miguel Olivo throws a pickoff attempt away to score Davis, then catcher Jeff Mathis came up to bat and mashed a two-run homer to the 200 level outfield seats. We laugh at Mathis, but he has been hitting quite well this year, batting .313/.389/.813 with 2 homers--yes it's just 16 at bats, but those 2 homers is about 1 more than what I thought he would hit this year.

On the mound, Henderson Alvarez pitched good enough to win his first of the year. With 2 career wins under his belt already, he is just 1 behind Yu Darvish now. Alvarez had a rocky start, allowing a Chone Figgins lead-off home run (what's with the Toronto fans booing after that shot?), but that would be the only run the Mariners would score off of him. Alvarez allowed a bunch of fly balls as well (many to Eric Thames) and only struck out 1 Mariner. He allowed quite a few baserunners--6 hits and 3 walks (a career high)--but he showed great poise and was able to get out of his own jams. This wasn't Alvarez's best outing this year, but he was good enough to win. The offense didn't look like they were going to help, not getting a hit until the 4th.

Evan Crawford was called in to relieve Alvarez and his curveballs and sliders looked sick. He struck out Ichiro on three pitches--the last one a curveball that was down and away--but plate umpire Vic Carapazza thought Ichiro had fouled it off. Ichiro finally grounded out after working very hard to foul off Crawford's pitches. Casey Janssen came in for the 8th and gave up a very very loud flyball to centrefield and Toronto fans all held their collective breaths until we saw it land in Colby Rasmus' glove.

As described above, the Blue Jays scored 5 insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th, which was good because Miguel Olivo hit a 78 mph Francisco Cordero curveball into the left field bullpen to begin the inning. Amid booing from the home town crowd, Coco gave up another had hit ball--this time a double by John Jaso to right field. Cordero finished the game without allow any more hits, with the help of a leaping catch in the stands by Lawrie, but his appearance today certainly did not boost anyone's confidence in his ability to slam the door. The Mariners finished the game 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

Jays of the Day! Encarnacion has the high mark at +.246 followed by Alvarez at +.171. Kelly Johnson also gets a good mark at +.114 for a game-tying single in the 5th. Crawford and Janssen also get a prize, contributing +.168 and +.126 respectively. Adam Lind's -.101 WPA should have gotten him a Suckage Jay, but his nice defensive play on a ball that hit first base is enough for me to disregard that. An honorary Jay of the Day award goes to this fan who tried to interfere with Chone Figgins' catch, and a dishonorary Suckage award goes to the Jays fans who didn't get out of Lawrie's way when he was making his catch.

Final - 4.29.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Seattle Mariners 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 8 2
Toronto Blue Jays 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 5 X 7 8 0
WP: Henderson Alvarez (1 - 2)
LP: Jason Vargas (3 - 2)

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The Seattle Mariners are now flying out of town, but the Japanese media are not going anywhere as the Jays will be welcoming the American League-leading Texas Rangers for three games starting tomorrow. Young Kyle Drabek looks to finish April with a win against Yu Darvish. I will be at the game tomorrow and am looking forward to see how the Rogers Centre crowd will react to Darvish.