Blue Jays power up to take two from Yanks

Blue Jays power up to take two from Yanks

Blue Jays power up to take two from Yanks
TORONTO -- Apparently all it took for the Blue Jays to rediscover their untapped power at the plate was a visit from the Yankees.

Toronto continued its recent upswing in production with two more home runs, which brought the two-day total to six in a mini sweep of New York at Rogers Centre.

For the second consecutive game, Jose Bautista and J.P. Arencibia came through with a pair of homers to lead the Blue Jays to a 4-1 victory on Thursday night in front of 31,266 fans.

"The one thing that Jose continues to do, despite a slow start relative for him, is that he didn't waver from his routine," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who believes the recent uptick in success is due to increased discipline at the plate.

"I think getting back to addressing pitches in the strike zone allows him to stay relaxed and confident, and when he hit a couple of balls out of the ballpark it was an ability for him to take a little bit of a deep breath, relax a bit, and let his true abilities come out."

Those abilities have been on full display during the past week. Bautista now has five home runs in his past seven games and a total of seven for the month of May.

Bautista's 10th of the season came on a two-run shot in the bottom of the third inning against New York starter Phil Hughes. Bautista worked the count full before fouling off a pair of pitches and then sending a cut fastball over the wall in left field.

With that shot, the reigning Major League home run king in back-to-back seasons moved past Jose Cruz Jr. for ninth place on the club's all-time home run list, with 123, and he is now within two of Fred McGriff for the No. 8 spot.

"I felt like he had seen a lot of fastballs and thought it was a good pitch to throw him," said Hughes, who was charged with two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. "But it was kind of spinning over the plate, not down and away where I would have liked to have it."

Arencibia added to the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-run shot of his own. His fifth of the season and second in as many nights came off right-hander Cory Wade to provide the Blue Jays with a 4-1 cushion.

The 26-year-old is now hitting .320 (24-for-75) with four home runs and 75 RBIs in his past 22 games. Those numbers are one reason why Arencibia was promoted to No. 5 in the batting order, which is the type of situation the second-year catcher said he relishes.

"Those are things you can't control, and I understand that," Arencibia said. "Those aren't my decisions, but I know for me, my belief, and what I've always done my entire life is be a middle-of-the-order kind of guy.

"I feel like I've always had a knack or thrive when I needed to thrive. I can't explain why, or whatever the reason is, but it's one of those things where I've always hit well and felt comfortable in that position."

Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison earned his third victory after surrendering just one run on five hits in six innings to mark his second career quality start. Hutchison did struggle with his control at times, as evidenced by four walks, but managed to pitch his way out of trouble for most of the night.

Hutchison's only major mistake occurred in the first inning, when Robinson Cano hit a one-out double to the gap in left-center field, which scored Curtis Granderson all the way from first base.

Toronto's rookie right-hander only managed to record one three-up, three-down frame, but that was of little significance on this night en route to winning his second consecutive outing.

"I was able to bear down and just make a pitch," said Hutchison, who now has a 4.81 ERA in six starts. "There was a couple of situations where I was able to step back, calm myself down and make a pitch to get out of it.

"I think I did a better job tonight of slowing myself down. Really my last two starts, when I've gotten myself into a situation I needed to get out of, [I've done better] than I did the first two starts."

Hutchison is still just 21 years old and only had 31 2/3 career innings above Class A ball prior to joining the big league club, but it's the ability to maintain an even-keel approach on the mound when things get tough that stuck out most to the Blue Jays' coaching staff before his arrival.

"If the game is speeding up on him mentally, he certainly doesn't show it outwardly," Farrell said. "We felt like he could handle this environment because of the poise and composure, and he shows that almost every start he takes the mound because there has been some traffic he's had to pitch around.

"He does a great job of keeping the game under control. This is twice now that he has gone six, and we'll continue to gradually lengthen him out."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for 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.