TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays are making a point of grinding down opposing pitchers.
Edwin Encarnacion's three-run blast in the fourth inning powered the Toronto Blue Jays to a 7-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon.
Encarnacion went 2-for-3 to lead Toronto (16-15) to a third straight win. Third baseman Josh Donaldson went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and designated-hitter Jose Bautista was 1-for-3 as the heart of Toronto's batting order earned a combined five RBIs.
"We have some guys in the middle of the lineup that can bang a little bit," said Donaldson. "Just up and down the lineup there's guys that are just constantly putting good at bats together.
"If you do that over the course of nine innings we feel like we're going to get to the pitcher eventually."
The Blue Jays finished with nine hits and eight walks, adding to their major-league leading 162 runs and 155 RBIs. Toronto is also tied for fourth in home runs (36) and is in the top 10 for all other offensive categories.
"I think that's part of what comes with having competitive at bats up and down the lineup," said Donaldson. "As much as pitchers don't want to admit it that's definitely going to wear them down."
The Blue Jays got five quality innings from Drew Hutchison (3-0), who allowed an earned run on seven hits while fanning six.
"I was getting through the ball well today," said Hutchison. "When I get down and away everything tends to fall in line. You throw harder because you're getting all the way through the baseball."
Joe Kelly (1-2) went 5 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on four hits for Boston (13-17). He had three strikeouts but issued seven walks.
The two teams combined for 17 hits, but struggled to convert those in to runs. Toronto stranded 11 baserunners, two more than Boston.
Kelly got into trouble early, loading the bases in the first with Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion all aboard.
Toronto catcher Russell Martin, from Chelsea, Que., drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly that scored Donaldson. Bautista went to third on the play, with Encarnacion staying on first. Although the Blue Jays loaded the bases again on Encarnacion's stolen base and a walk by Kevin Pillar, they couldn't cash in any more runs.
Donaldson's RBI single to left field made it 2-0 in the second, scoring Chris Colabello. Toronto loaded the bases again but couldn't score any more runs as Martin's check swing was ruled a third strike by first-base umpire Lance Barksdale.
Blue Jays shortstop Ryan Goins made a spectacular play in the top of the fourth.
With runners in scoring position, Allen Craig hit what looked to be a broken-bat bloop single into shallow left. Donaldson jumped to try and stab the ball out of the air and missed but Goins slid on the ground to make the catch behind the Toronto third baseman.
Goins ended the inning on a Xander Bogaerts groundout.
"I feel like our defence behind (the Blue Jays pitchers) is pretty good," said Donaldson. "Goins has been playing a great defence and our outfielders really run the ball down."
Encarnacion hit his fifth homer of the season, putting Kelly's 1-2 pitch in to the second deck at Rogers Centre. The shot brought home Devon Travis and Bautista, who had executed a perfect double steal earlier during Encarnacion's at-bat.
The home run is part of a hot May for Encarnacion. The veteran first baseman hit .205 in April with four homers. He's hit .345 in May, adding Saturday's blast to bring his season home run total up to five.
"He's definitely getting better. When his swing comes together it's a pretty swing," said manager John Gibbons. "Even when he's struggling a little bit he strikes fear into you if you're on the other side. Y'know, one mistake, that's what he can do.
"Today he got the breaking ball and smoked it. Hopefully that's the start of something big for him."
Dustin Pedroia brought home Mookie Betts with an RBI single to make it 5-1 in the fifth. Boston also loaded the bases in the inning but couldn't add more runs.
Bautista's two-out single in the sixth scored Donaldson to boost Toronto's lead to 6-1. Travis's RBI single in the seventh brought home Colabello to end the scoring.
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