Tulo hits grand slam on historic night

Tulo hits grand slam on historic night

TORONTO -- Early last week the Blue Jays lineup resembled something more commonly used during a Spring Training road game. Now, with Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson back in the fold, everything seems back to normal.

Tulowitzki enjoyed his first big moment since coming off the disabled list by hitting the fourth grand slam of his career in Toronto's lopsided 17-2 victory over the Reds on Monday night. Donaldson chipped in with a single, an RBI and a walk as Toronto reached double digits in scoring for the first time this season.

One positive game does not mean either player is all the way back quite yet, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

"They were both out for awhile, but the thinking was, as long as they're healthy, they can definitely help you defensively," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They'll pitch in some hits, but they need at-bats -- how many, who knows? -- before they really get things rolling. Tulo has done a great job for us since he has been here, but he needs some at-bats and he'll get going."

Toronto went 20-18 while Donaldson was on the DL and 17-14 without Tulowitzki. The results were much better than expected, thanks in large part to breakout performances from a group that includes Kevin Pillar, Devon Travis and Justin Smoak. Add in a red-hot Jose Bautista, plus the returns of Tulowitzki and Donaldson, the expectations are likely higher for this offensive unit than they were even on Opening Day.

The Blue Jays entered play on Monday ranked seventh in the AL with 120 runs in May, but jumped all the way to third after Monday's 17-run outburst. That's pretty impressive for a team that was built around its starting rotation, and now that Tulowitzki has replaced Ryan Goins, and Donaldson has replaced a rotating cast of characters at third, the upside is there for the trend to continue.

For Tulowitzki, it's going to take some time. There will be some games when his timing looks off and then others -- like the series opener vs. Cincinnati -- when everything clicks. One thing is for sure, he got all of an 0-1 offering from Robert Stephenson in the bottom of the third inning. According to Statcast™, Tulowitzki's second homer of the season was projected to travel 409 feet and left his bat at 102 mph.

"I'm trying to get a good pitch, try to put a good swing on it," Tulowitzki said. "Try to keep it as simple as I possibly can. On the grand slam, I got a good pitch to hit, put on a good swing and kind of broke the game open."

Tulowitzki was just one small part in an almost record day on offense for Toronto. The Blue Jays scored 17 runs for the first time since July 3, 2016. The club hit .500 (23-for-46) and the 23 hits were the third most in franchise history.

It won't be like this every night, but with some ground that still needs to be made up in the standings, the Blue Jays will take it however they can get it.

"It's nice. Hopefully we can catch some momentum offensively and take it over into tomorrow and keep it going," Tulowitzki said.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.