Anthony Gose might just as well responded by saying “Duh, yeah,” when asked just how constructive it was attending the Florida Instructional League to work on his bunting skills.
“Obviously it’s really important, I just won us the game,” Gose said, looking incredulous that the question was even posed in the first place.
“I guess it’s pretty important.”
The 23-year-old was doing his level best to supply all the pat answers in the aftermath of a frenetic 3-2 Toronto Blue Jays win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, a game in which Gose put both his blinding speed and defensive acumen to good use.
Gose has been down this road before – a Triple A call-up who enjoys fleeting success at the Major League Baseball level only to be disappointed when he once again gets dispatched back to the minors.
You get the sense, with his continued stellar play in centrefield subbing for the injured Colby Rasmus, that this time it will be different, that the Blue Jays will have to find a way to keep him on the roster when Rasmus is ready to return.
So Gose, normally a more engaging personality, is keeping things cool – as cool as one can be after orchestrating the seldom seen bunt single into the walk-off winning run that propelled the Blue Jays to their ninth straight victory.
“That’s a big part of his game,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said about Gose and his ability to lay down the bunt. “He went down to the instructional league before the season strictly for that. He went down there for two or three weeks I think to work on his bunting. I don’t know that he necessarily wanted to go down there but it’s paid off.
“Those kinds of things take work, it takes a lot of work. And that’s something he’ll do for his whole career because it’s a weapon for him.”
The Rays would attest to that.
They watched a potential win slip from their hands in the ninth inning in a 2-2 game after pinch-runner Kevin Pillar was able to score all the way on first with the winning run after Gose laid down a perfect bunt up the first base line.
With Gose churning to first base like Rickey Henderson, Tampa reliever Jose Carlos Oviedo made the dubious decision to try to make a play when, realistically, one wasn’t there.
Oveido would have been better off just picking up the ball and heading back to the mound to deal with Jose Reyes, who would have been coming to the plate with runners at first and second and nobody out.
Instead, Oveido got to watch the Blue Jays engage in a mass on-field celebration after his rushed throw to first base was wide of the mark.
The ball drifted into right field and Pillar was able to come all the way around to score the winning run, punctuating the play with a chest-crunching diving slide at home plate.
The play was scored as a single for Gose with a throwing error to Oveido allowing the runners to advance.
Earlier in the game, in the third inning, Gose made an electrifying catch in centrefield off the top of the wall to rob James Loney of a hit, one of several stellar defensive plays Toronto came up with in the contest.
“We played all sorts of defense out there,” Gibbons said. “They were hitting some rockets, they were barreling some balls up and we just made some great plays all around to keep that game at two.”
With the win, the Blue Jays (32-22) remain three games up on the New York Yankees in first place in the American League East.
In vanquishing the Rays it was Toronto’s third consecutive series sweep as the Blue Jays now welcome the Kansas City Royals to town to begin a four-game set beginning Thursday night.