TORONTO - After a sleepy first two nights at the ballpark, the much ballyhooed Blue Jays' offence came to life in Thursday's 10-8 win over the Indians, a victory that ensured the pesky Clevelanders wouldn't leave the Rogers Centre with a season-opening sweep of the three-game series.
"That's just an overall sample of what we can bring to the table when individuals do what they're capable of doing," said Jose Bautista, whose first inning home run was his second in as many games – one of five Blue Jays' round trippers on the night. "We had some guys hit some home runs; some guys ran the bases great; some great defensive plays as well. We got the clutch hits when we needed them."
There it was on display: the power, speed and timely hitting the Blue Jays will be known for if this season works out the way the organization has planned.
It doesn't hurt when the aforementioned attributes come in to play at the same time. To wit, Edwin Encarnacion's three-run home run with two outs in the fifth. The blast broke a 3-3 tie, a timely shot of power even though the Jays would give the three runs right back.
In the sixth, after solo home runs by J.P. Arencibia (his second of two on the night,) and Colby Rasmus, Emilio Bonifacio rapped a base hit up the middle. A routine single for most players, Bonifacio stunned the crowd – not to mention the Indians – by turning the play into a double.
Credit the former Marlin with keeping a mental notebook on Indians' centerfielder Michael Bourn, a former National League East foe when he played in Atlanta.
"I was telling Reyes the other day because we played Michael the past two years, so I know he just kind of stays back and he doesn't have that good an arm so as soon as I hit the ball, I was thinking second," said Bonifacio, who in the eighth would make two sterling defensive plays at second base to preserve what was a 9-8 lead at the time.
Starter Mark Buehrle, out of the game by the time of Bonifacio's exploits after allowing six runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings, was appreciative of his teammate's effort.
"I saw him a lot in centerfield last year, not too much at second base but just knowing how gifted he is athletically, I know he can make those plays," said Buehrle, a teammate of Bonifacio's in Miami last season. "Offensively he's fun to watch, just get on the bases and let him run."
Manager John Farrell will bring his Boston Red Sox (2-1) to town for three games, marking Farrell's first return to Toronto since the Blue Jays released him from his contract on October 21.
The Red Sox took two out of three in a season-opening series with the Yankees in New York. Boston's next home run will be its first of the season.
HOT: SS Jose Iglesias (7-12, .583 BA) and C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3-7, 3BB, .429/.600 OBP)
Here are the projected pitching matchups:
Friday: RHP Josh Johnson vs. LHP Felix Doubront
Saturday: LHP J.A. Happ vs. RHP John Lackey
Sunday: RHP R.A. Dickey (0-1, 4.50) vs. LHP John Lester (1-0, 3.60)