The video segment of Josh Donaldson’s recent appearance on MLB Central, kibitzing with former player Mark DeRosa about the ins and outs of his menacing power swing, is replayed before games at Rogers Centre on the giant television screen.
During the nine-minute clip, Donaldson and DeRosa yuk it up while the Toronto Blue Jays third base star explains the process behind his batting setup and his big leg kick.
Donaldson is dressed in street clothes on the set, is holding a bat and is threatening to whack a ball resting on a batting tee.
Donaldson refers at one point to “effortless bat speed” and the importance of keeping the process as “simple as possible” as the keys to his success.
Sunday at Rogers Centre, on an afternoon when the helter-skelter Toronto offence was making things interesting, Donaldson’s success was mostly missing.
Donaldson went 0-3 with two walks in an 11-8 loss to the Boston Red Sox – extending his consecutive-game hitless streak to seven, something he has never experienced during his two seasons as a Blue Jay. Donaldson is 0-for-23 with eight walks during the slump and his batting average has tumbled to .283.
Any talk about Donaldson repeating as the American League’s most valuable player honours has also gone up in smoke with his recent struggles.
And it is probably no coincidence that his downturn coincides with the team’s ragged play.
The Blue Jays now trail the front-running Red Sox by two games in the AL East after Boston took two of three from Toronto in the weekend set. The Blue Jays have dropped four consecutive series for the first time this season.
And don’t look now, but the Baltimore Orioles, with a 3-1 win over the Tigers in Detroit, have pulled into a second-place tie with the Blue Jays.
“There’s still a lot of time left,” Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said, noting that there is no panic in the Blue Jays clubhouse with less than three weeks left in the regular season. “Plus we still play these guys. A lot of things can happen.
“I think we’ve been jockeying for position the whole year [and] just right now two games back. We’d have liked to win the series but unfortunately we didn’t. We move on.”
Tulowitzki did his part on Sunday, going 3-for-4, including his third career grand slam in the third inning, which provided Toronto with a short-lived 6-4 advantage.
Edwin Encarnacion also slugged a couple of home runs and finished with three hits. Combined with Tulowitzki, the pair accounted for six of Toronto’s eight hits against the Red Sox.
During his last at-bat on Sunday, in the eighth inning, with Devon Travis at first after a one-out single and the Blue Jays trailing by three, Donaldson strode into the batter’s box for a moment he is custom-made for.
A clutch hit – perhaps even a home run, something he has frequently shown a penchant for in Toronto – was needed for the Jays to mount a rally.
Instead, Donaldson hit into a double play to end the inning and end another frustrating afternoon for the 30-year-old.
Donaldson was not made available to speak to the media after the game.
“He’s not getting many hits,” Toronto manager John Gibbons offered when asked what he was seeing with Donaldson’s approach during his 0-for-23 stint. “I can’t put it any better than that.
“He’s battling. I think what it is maybe, he’s missing his pitches he normally hits, which is usually what happens. But you’re not going to keep him down long.”
From Tulowitzki’s perspective, he mostly liked what he saw from the Toronto offence on Sunday. But he said things could be better.
“We’ll be all right,” he said. “Veteran lineup. You go through some good times and some bad times. I think ideally you want the middle of the order to click all the time, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.
“I think when they do click at the same time, that’s when you’ll see big offensive games. Hopefully we can get that going here soon.”
Donaldson’s slump is the second-worst of his career. In June of 2014, when he was with the Oakland Athletics, he endured a 0-for-33 hitless streak.Report Typo/Error
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