"It's a good home run-hitting park, it's a good home run-hitting division," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's kind of what we do -- still have to get your other hits -- but we've been missing that."
Toronto entered play on Sunday ranked last in the American League during August with 15 homers, 83 runs, a .293 on-base percentage and 308 total bases. The expectations were so much higher for a group that includes elite hitters like Jose Reyes, Cabrera, Bautista, Encarnacion and Adam Lind.
The lack of offense was the main reason the Blue Jays fell out of contention for the postseason during recent weeks. But on Sunday, those missing home runs returned and it was the main reason the club was able to overcome a 3-0 deficit to snatch a victory away from the Yankees.
In a lot of ways, it was just like old times for a team that once had a six-game lead in the AL East.
"It was great," Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ said. "I think a lot has kind of been made that our team hits home runs -- and that's kind of no secret, so it was nice that we came back with three to tie it up. Kawa got the huge hit, so that was really fun to see."
Toronto's offense was completely non-existent until Cabrera, Bautista and Encarnacion homered off right-hander Brandon McCarthy during a span of four at-bats. That spoiled what had been a flawless outing by McCarthy and allowed the Blue Jays to finish an otherwise disappointing month on a winning note.
Cabrera sparked the rally with two outs in the sixth with a solo shot to right field. It was Cabrera's 16th home run of the year, as his remarkable season continues. Cabrera entered play on Sunday ranked second in the AL in hits (168), fifth in times on base (213) and sixth in total bases (253).
Bautista immediately followed with a shot of his own. Toronto's veteran slugger has homered in five consecutive games for the first time in his career, and is one shy of the club record set by Jose Cruz Jr. from Sept. 29 - Oct. 5, 2001. Bautista is also one homer shy of reaching 30 for the first time since 2011, and needs five more to become the fifth player in club history with 200.
McCarthy escaped the sixth, but when he came back out for the seventh he encountered more trouble. Encarnacion led off with a home run into the second deck in left field. The homer came on a 3-2 pitch and was Encarnacion's 28th of the season. He has two home runs since returning from a strained right quad muscle on Aug. 15. The three homers by Toronto was the most the club hit since it had four on July 31 against Houston.
"Just two really good hitters," McCarthy said of Cabrera and Bautista. "When they get into it, you're in trouble. The one to Encarnacion, that was a terrible pitch."
The Blue Jays continued to rally in the seventh, as Dioner Navarro walked with nobody out. He was lifted for pinch-runner Steve Tolleson, who stole second and later came around to score on a two-out single by Kawasaki. The go-ahead knock came against right-hander Dellin Betances, but all four runs were charged to McCarthy -- who allowed five hits and two walks over six-plus innings.
Happ picked up the win for Toronto, after he pitched seven solid innings. Happ allowed nine hits, but didn't walk a batter and was able to escape multiple jams throughout the game. Brett Gardner was a major thorn in Happ's side, as he led off the game with a homer and came within a single of the cycle.
"They grind," Happ said of the Yankees. "I feel like every team -- especially this division -- does that. A day like today, McCarthy was throwing really well. I was trying to stay in there, keep us in the ballgame. We stayed on him, came back and that was huge."
Toronto will enjoy an off-day on Monday before opening a three-game series vs. Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The Blue Jays will then travel to Boston on Friday before returning home for games against the Cubs and Rays. Toronto finished August with a 9-17 record and scored three runs or fewer in 15 of those games.