Onslaught helps Drabek drop Yankees

Onslaught helps Drabek drop Yankees

Onslaught helps Drabek drop Yankees
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays responded to a tumultuous 24 hours with one of their best all-around games of the season.

The four-game suspension of third baseman Brett Lawrie for his actions during an argument with home-plate umpire Bill Miller on Tuesday seemed like a thing of the past by the time first pitch on Wednesday rolled around. If anything, it rallied the players behind a common goal.

The Blue Jays took out all of their leftover aggression at the plate, slugging four home runs to snap a three-game losing streak with an 8-1 victory over the Yankees at Rogers Centre.

"They have shown on repeated occasions that no matter what has taken place the day before, they have been able to separate themselves from that and put behind them the events of the day previous," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who was informed of Lawrie's suspension two hours before first pitch. "They came out very focused, with a lot of energy and a lot of good at-bats. It wasn't a distraction, by any means."

Lawrie, who is appealing Major League Baseball's ruling, did play and apologized to Miller prior to the game, but the suspension ultimately became a mere footnote in an all-out offensive attack.

The production provided plenty of run support for No. 4 hurler Kyle Drabek, who pitched with a lead from the second inning on. Drabek surrendered one run on three hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 60 of his 113 pitches for strikes and matched the second-longest outing of his career.

J.P. Arencibia started the onslaught of offense in the bottom of the second inning off New York starter Hiroki Kuroda. Arencibia, who finished a triple shy of the cycle, sent a 3-1 slider over the wall in left-center field for his fourth home run of the season, giving Toronto an early 2-0 lead.

Edwin Encarnacion broke the game wide open the following frame with a three-run shot to straightaway center. The home run was the 13th of the season for Toronto's designated hitter, who entered the game second in the American League in RBIs (31), third in extra-base hits (21) and fourth in total bases (83).

Jose Bautista got into the action in the fifth with another homer off Kuroda. Bautista's ninth home run of the season went into the second deck in left field and marked his fourth long ball in the past six games. Toronto's No. 3 hitter now has 122 career home runs in a Blue Jays uniform, moving into a tie with Jose Cruz Jr. for ninth on the club's all-time list.

"When he addresses strikes and when he doesn't chase pitches out of the strike zone, [he's at his most dangerous]," Farrell said when asked the key to Bautista's recent resurgence. "He laid off a number of borderline pitches tonight to get into favorable counts, and when he got his pitch, he didn't miss it. He just looks more [on] time, with a better load, a better rhythm overall. He's putting good swings on the ball right now."

Kuroda was removed from the game after that at-bat, having surrendered seven runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out six. It was the most home runs Kuroda has allowed this season and the highest total of runs he has surrendered since July 28, 2008.

"I think all the home run balls I threw stayed up; that's what happened," Kuroda said through an interpreter.

"I'm hoping I can be more consistent than I am right now, but unfortunately, it's not the way it's going right now. But it will come."

Second baseman Kelly Johnson ensured the Blue Jays weren't finished there. Johnson greeted reliever Clay Rapada in the seventh with a solo homer of his own, the veteran's eighth of the season and the 100th of his seven-year career.

The final tally meant the Blue Jays scored eight or more runs for the fifth time this season, and the output represented their largest total since May 2 against Texas.

"The slow start was kind of tough to dig yourself out of," said Arencibia, who struggled early but is now hitting .324 with three homers and 14 RBIs in his past 21 games. "The biggest thing was just to keep battling, know and trust in my abilities. I'm not worried about what I do at the plate I'm worried about behind the plate."

In the past few starts, Drabek has experienced substantial difficulty controlling his two-seam fastball. The second-year right-hander had been frequently throwing the pitch in the dirt and for a time seemed incapable of throwing it for strikes.

That prompted the Blue Jays to start asking Arencibia to position his glove higher in the zone. That had the potential to create somewhat of an optical illusion for Drabek, who responded by getting strikes on the two-seamer more regularly and finding success as a result.

"Really, it was trying to throw it higher and allowing it to sink back down," Drabek said. "My last two starts, I think I've been trying to throw it more on the black and not as high, and that's when it tends to bounce. I talked to John, [pitching coach Bruce Walton], the starters and catchers and just tried to figure some stuff out. Today, it worked."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.