Encarnacion continues to rake at the plate

Encarnacion continues to rake at the plate

TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion hasn't missed a beat since returning to the Blue Jays' lineup. After sitting out four games in a row due to a jammed left middle finger, Encarnacion doubled in his return on Friday against the Yankees and hit another two-bagger on Saturday afternoon, extending his hitting streak to a season-high 13 games in the Blue Jays' 4-1 loss to the Yankees.

"He's a big part of the team," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We need him healthy, because he adds that one more guy to the middle of that lineup that can burn you."

After a mild start to the season, Encarnacion has come on strong in the second half. Since the All-Star break, he's hitting .347 (26-for-75), with three homers and 11 RBIs. Having him in the lineup rounds out the top of a powerful Blue Jays batting order, which features Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Encarnacion.

He was responsible for two of the Blue Jays' five hits against Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka, who was dominant in a complete-game victory. Encarnacion, who's hit safely in 22 of his last 27 contests against New York, is now 7-for-14 lifetime against the right-hander. After recording a pair of hits on Saturday, Toronto's designated hitter has reached base multiple times in 13 of his last 15 contests.

Encarnation's finger injury originally occurred back in late July, causing him to miss a pair of games at the time. It started to improve, but flared up again last weekend in New York, forcing him to the bench from Sunday until Friday.

With an Interleague series against the Phillies coming up next week, the Blue Jays need Encarnacion healthy, so he can man first base for two games in Philadelphia.

"Hopefully, that's behind him," Gibbons said. "He felt pretty good. We'll see."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.