Encarnacion nets 600th RBI with Blue Jays

Slugger becomes eighth player in club history to reach milestone with walk-off homer

Encarnacion nets 600th RBI with Blue Jays

TORONTO -- The evening certainly didn't the start the way Edwin Encarnacion had hoped it would, but it's hard to imagine it ending any better than it did.

Encarnacion was the walk-off hero in Toronto's 4-3, come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, with his 10th-inning solo shot making him just the eighth Blue Jays batter to record 600 RBIs with the team.

"I'm really happy," Encarnacion said through team translator, Josue Peley, about eclipsing the milestone. "Those are things we don't look for, but when they happen we're just thankful for it.

"It just makes me work more to get more milestones."

Encarnacion entered the at-bat in one of his worst slumps of the season, going hitless in his last four games and sitting at 0-for-19 before turning around Brad Brach's 96-mph four-seam fastball.

The La Romana, Dominican Republic native's walk-off blast was also his fifth career walk-off home run and his fourth with the Blue Jays, a club record.

"They've been throwing to me outside all day," Encarnacion said. "I just tried to make an adjustment and it worked."

The 33-year-old has developed into a big-time bat in the middle of the Blue Jays' order since coming to Toronto in 2009 and has developed a knack for producing clutch hits.

"He was a late bloomer in his career," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said about the two-time All-Star. "Once he got off third base, he got more relaxed and turned into a better hitter. But he's a lot like [Jose] Bautista, [Josh] Donaldson, [Justin] Smoak, a lot of those guys. He's another late bloomer. The longer they're around, the potential is always in there, it just takes a bit longer to put it all together."

That potential has seen Encarnacion flourish with the Blue Jays. Despite his pedestrian .233 average so far this season, Encarnacion's 13 home runs are second on the team, and he's hit 210 long balls over the course of his eight years with the Blue Jays.

"He has unmatched power," Gibbons said. "He has as much power as anybody, and he's really turned himself into a good hitter. Before tonight, he was hitless in a number of at-bats, so that was more important to us and to him. But he's a feared guy. He's a free-agent once this season's over and I'm sure he'll be in high demand, there's no doubt about it. But he's been huge for this organization."

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.