Goins makes bid for playing time with big night

Goins makes bid for playing time with big night

TORONTO -- If Ryan Goins is going to earn more playing time going forward, nights like Monday will certainly help his cause.

Known for his glove and his ability as a defensive stalwart, Goins was the centrepiece of Toronto's offensive attack on Monday night, going 2-for-2 with a home run, a double and a sacrifice bunt in the Blue Jays' 4-2 takedown of the Yankees.

Manager John Gibbons told the media earlier in the day that he would go with the hot-hitting Darwin Barney at shortstop in the absence of Troy Tulowitzki, leaving Goins as the backup infielder behind Barney and the recently activated Devon Travis.

"Go-Go, he hasn't been playing a lot lately, but he had a big, big night," Gibbons said after the game. "The double to get it going, the home run to the opposite field. He seemed good and relaxed and confident. Ryan has been struggling for a while, but he is a better hitter than that. He had a few days off, relaxed, and came through for us."

Goins took over as the starting second baseman down the stretch last season after the team shut down Travis for the remainder of the year, and he was an integral part of Toronto's run to the American League Championship Series.

But he has been unable to replicate that success thus far, and entered the night 5-for-44 in May, prompting Gibbons to turn to Barney. Despite the struggle, Goins' teammates have continued to show support, and are hopeful Monday's game is a sign of things to come.

"The guys play so hard every single day, and for him to come out and do what he did today, it was awesome to see," said starter Marco Estrada, who pitched eight shutout innings on Monday and picked up the victory. "I'm very happy for him. I know he can keep doing it every day. It's great to have him out there, because his defense is so good, and then he puts together some great at-bats. You know obviously he came through big today."

Goins, the fourth-round pick in 2009, picked up a line-drive double to lead off the third against Ivan Nova, socked his fifth home run of the season to left field in the fifth and would force the Yankees to go to their bullpen with one out in the seventh prior to laying down a sacrifice bunt in his final at-bat of the night.

Crediting the ability to trust his instincts and find a way to inflict damage when he gets ahead in the count, Goins understands that despite being the No. 9 hitter in Toronto's lineup, he will have a chance to turn things around with Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion behind him.

"They're not going to mess around," Goins said. "When you have guys like that hitting behind you, pitchers have to get you out. They don't really want to mess around and put you on, because next thing you know, it could be a two-run, three-run home run."

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.