TORONTO - Brett Lawrie stood on second base in the sixth inning with another-worldly look on his face; his fists clenched, chest puffed out, screaming at the top of his lungs.
The 23-year-old, he of the boundless energy, had just doubled to drive home the game's tying and go-ahead runs in what would be an 8-4 Blue Jays victory over the Yankees.
“He definitely gives us energy,” said manager John Gibbons. “He's a good player. I've said it before, it probably wasn't fair to him that he came back so quick as far as he probably needed some more at-bats to get his timing, see some, mainly some breaking balls. He'd been out more than a month but we needed him. In a lot of ways it's like spring training for him now.”
Lawrie had four hits in three games against New York after going hitless in three games versus the White Sox, which marked his return from a strained ribcage muscle suffered on March 6.
Whatever it is the Blue Jays accomplish this season, Lawrie – health permitting, of course – will be in the middle of it. The Yankees' series provided glimpses of both the good and the bad; the go-through-a-brick-wall gamer who will do anything to win and the youngster who's learning how to focus on a consistent basis.
On Saturday, Lawrie was the latter. With runners on first and second and nobody out in the Yankees' 11th, he misread an Ichiro Suzuki bunt. Lawrie charged, leaving third base open, pitcher Aaron Loup fielded the bunt and threw wildly to Lawrie, who was scrambling to get back to the bag. Both runners scored and the Yankees won the game.
It wasn't as egregious a mistake as, say, attempting to steal home with the bases loaded and Jose Bautista at the plate – as happened in a game last April – but it was costly.
“You analyze what happened but at the same time you've got to have a quick memory,” said Lawrie, when asked how long he considered the Saturday miscue. “You've got to be able to throw that behind you and just say, ‘It's over now, I can't do anything about it;' wake up today and come back and do what we did. I think our team did what we needed to do to win and we've just got to keep that going and hopefully have a good road trip here.”
Sunday was Lawrie at his finest.
It wasn't just the double, but also the pick of a Jayson Nix shot that began an around-the-horn double play in the eighth. Lawrie hasn't eased back in to the defensive side of the game, his range and zeal suggest he's feeling no ill effects from his injury.
“It's just nice to have him (back,”) said catcher J.P. Arencibia. “There are a lot of things he does well on a baseball field. Defensively the things that he's able to do and then to be able to get that double there. That's a big hit. Obviously his energy is always enjoyed but there are a lot of aspects that you're happy to have him back for.”
“You guys all know better than I do, you saw him the last couple of years. His defense can win games for you,” said Gibbons. “He flashed that again (Sunday). Once he gets rolling offensively we think he's going to be one of the better players in the game. He's got that kind of ability and (Sunday) he did it on both sides, offense and defense.”
- J.P. Arencibia hit his seventh home run in Sunday's win, pulling him in to a tie for the American League lead with Baltimore's Chris Davis.
- Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, scheduled to start Tuesday in Baltimore, remains questionable due to neck spasms.