It’s hard to pinpoint who had the best day for the Toronto Blue Jays in their 15-5 shellacking of the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday at Rogers Centre.
Was it Curtis Granderson, who smashed a grand slam and scored three runs, or Teoscar Hernandez, whose mammoth afternoon included a home run, a triple and two singles?
Or perhaps it was Luke Maile, whose fingerprints were all over the Jays’ three-game sweep of the lowly Royals. He collected a pair of hits and knocked home one run in his third successive multihit outing.
Whoever it was, the Jays scored a season-high in runs on 15 hits as they won their fourth game in a row heading into a key four-game series in New York against the Yankees starting Thursday.
“So many different guys have come up on different days, in different occasions. Defensive, offensive, on the basepaths,” Granderson said. “That’s a good thing. You want to have that flexibility and that ability for anybody to be able to pass the baton, get it to the next guy in the lineup so they can come up with an opportunity.”
Granderson’s slam, the ninth of his career, came after the game was already far out of reach, with the Blue Jays ahead 11-5.
Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte added a home run each to pace the Blue Jays offence, which scored 31 runs in three games against the Royals. Both those dingers came facing Royals starter Ian Kennedy, who took the loss. He gave up six runs, four earned, over five innings.
Hernandez has made his presence felt since being recalled to the club after Josh Donaldson was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation last week. In four games since, he has eight hits, and finished a double shy of the cycle Wednesday.
Despite that impressive output, his place on the roster could be in jeopardy. As a player with minor-league options, it’s possible Hernandez could get caught up in a numbers game when injured infielder Kendrys Morales returns from the disabled list.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Morales (strained right hamstring) will be activated for Friday’s game, meaning someone from the Blue Jays overstaffed outfield is likely heading back to Triple-A Buffalo.
“It’s not gonna be an easy decision, whatever we chose to do,” Gibbons said. “Like I said, [Hernandez] couldn’t be playing any better.”
The 25-year-old Hernandez, who had 28 hits and a .908 OPS in 27 games last year, said he’s doing his best to ignore the roster situation.
“Right now I feel really great,” he said. “I get that confidence from last year when I got the opportunity. I got the chance to show what I got and it makes me feel better every day when I get the chance to be in the lineup.”
Maile, meanwhile, has also been a pleasant surprise. The backup catcher is enjoying the longest hitting streak of his career. He has at least one in each of his six games this season. He drove in his eighth run of 2018 Wednesday, surpassing his RBI total from 2017, when he had seven in 46 games (130 at-bats). His double in the seventh inning gave him four multihit games on the year.
Viewership for the game, which was broadcast exclusively on Facebook because of the social-media giant’s partnership with Major League Baseball, hovered around 75,000 as the game entered the eighth inning. Paid attendance was 28,803.
After their series against the Yankees, the Blue Jays return home for three games against the Boston Red Sox next week. J.A. Happ, who earned the win for the Blue Jays with a six-inning outing, said he hopes the Toronto hit parade continues.
“I don’t know what I expected, but it’s fun to watch,” said Happ, who improved to 3-1 with a five-hit, four-run, eight-strikeout performance. “It’s tough to sweep anybody. Hopefully we’re able to get some momentum out of it.”
Aaron Sanchez, who had a no-hitter through seven innings in his previous start, will get the ball for the Jays in the opener against the Yankees.
While the team is expecting the return of Morales during the series, Gibbons said star third-baseman Donaldson, who’s eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list Saturday, will not be ready. Donaldson has been out since April 13.