Teoscar Hernandez says his foot hurts all the time, especially when running, but that didn’t stop him from going all out on Tuesday night.
Hernandez made a highlight-reel sliding catch in right field and then hit a three-run homer to give Toronto its first lead of the game as the Blue Jays beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3.
“I’ve been battling for the last couple of weeks with injuries and all that stuff,” said Hernandez, who did not play in Monday’s 5-4 win over Chicago. “Not having a good time at the plate or on defence.
“I try to do the best that I can and I did it today and it feels great.”
The homer was Hernandez’s 100th hit of the season, the eighth Blue Jay to reach the century mark in 2022. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies have six each for second most in Major League Baseball behind Toronto.
It’s the first time in franchise history that eight players have 100-plus hits before September.
“At this point, it feels great because it helps the team win,” said Hernandez. “That’s the only thing that matters for me right now.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a solo home run and batted in a run with a single to back Kevin Gausman’s superb start for Toronto (70-58).
Gausman (10-9) struck out nine and allowed five hits, including two home runs. David Phelps, Anthony Bass, Trevor Richards and closer Jordan Romano came out of the bullpen.
Romano earned a four-out save, his 28th of the season.
“[Gausman] was awesome. Tons of swing-and-miss, lots of punch outs, obviously just a couple of mistakes that were hit hard for home runs, but he was awesome,” said interim Toronto manager John Schneider. “You always want to try to reward that with a good bullpen effort and they stepped up.”
Christopher Morel had a solo shot and an RBI double for Chicago (55-75). Wilson Contreras opened the scoring with a home run in the fourth.
Marcus Stroman earned a no decision, even as he held the Blue Jays to three hits, a walk and a run with one strikeout. Brendon Little (0-1), Michael Rucker and Jeremiah Estrada came on in relief.
Gausman was especially sharp in the second and third, striking out five consecutive batters between the two innings. He ended the second by fanning Franmil Reyes and Nico Hoerner, then got Nelson Velazquez, P.J. Higgins and Morel swinging in the third.
“A lot of them are heaters up and that’s a big pitch for me,” said Gausman on his early efficiency. “When I’m able to do that I’m tough on hitters.”
Contreras got to Gausman with one out in the fourth. He took the first pitch he saw, an 85 m.p.h. slider, to deep left field for a 1-0 Chicago lead.
Reyes came to the plate three batters later and sent a looping hit to deep right field for what would likely be a double. Hernandez sprinted full out and slid low under the ball, making the catch to end the inning.
“I didn’t think he had a chance to get to it,” said Gausman. “Any time you’re looking at a play like that, you’re looking at the guy, you’re looking at the ball and you kind of keep looking at both of them, y’know? Which one’s going to get there quicker.
“I didn’t think he had any chance but was a helluva play.”
Guerrero tied it in the fifth when his single drove home Danny Jansen and advanced George Springer to third.
Morel re-established the Cubs’ lead in the next inning. He hit his 13th home run of the season to deep left field, making no mistake on Gausman’s 92.9 m.p.h four-seam fastball.
After Little hit Bo Bichette with a pitch and Matt Chapman beat the throw to first for a base hit, Hernandez came to the plate. He sailed a sinker 382 feet to deep right for a 4-2 Toronto lead.
Morel chipped away at Toronto’s lead in the seventh, stroking a double to left field to cash in Velazquez and make it 4-3.
Chants of “Vladdy! Vladdy! Vladdy!” rained down from the 33,759 in attendance at Rogers Centre after Guerrero led off the seventh inning with a solo home run to right field. His 27th of the season came off of a four-seam fastball from Rucker.
Mitch White (1-4) gets the start for Toronto as the Blue Jays close out their interleague series against the Cubs. Chicago has yet to name its starter for the evening game.