Edwin Encarnacion hasn’t looked much like himself through the first seven games of the regular season, his .179 batting average, one walk and 10 strikeouts proof of that. But worth noting is the way the Toronto Blue Jays slugger adjusted Sunday in collecting a pair of hits in a 6-4 loss to the New York Yankees, and that may be a sign he’s about to get right.
In his first at-bat with one on and one out, Encarnacion twice tried to punch a ball into right field, fouling both pitches off before he was called out looking. After rolling over a pitch for 6-3 grounder in the fourth, he beat the shift in the sixth with a line drive to right, the second of four consecutive Blue Jays hits that led to a three-run outburst.
Finally in the eighth, Encarnacion tripled to right-centre for his third extra-base hit of the year.
While his walk to strikeout ratio remains uncharacteristically high – he walked more often than he struck out last year – hitting coach Kevin Seitzer was very pleased with the adjustment he made.
“He had a couple of pitches he was out in front of that came around, but that’s what he’s going to need to do, he’s just been a little bit too much pull-happy,” says Seitzer. “When he starts letting the ball travel a little bit more, it’s not that he has to go up there to hit the ball the other way, but when pitchers aren’t making mistakes on the inner half and you’re not dialed in – when you’re a pull guy you’ve got be dialed in to do consistent damage – you have to take advantage of the middle of the field. That was a nice adjustment to see him make out there because he’s been little frustrated getting off to a slow start, but he’ll be all right.”
JAYS BELIEVE IN HUTCHISON: The Blue Jays were 10-15 against No. 1 starters last season, according to Stats Inc., and they’re 0-2 so far this season, as I wrote yesterday.
There were no excuses from Drew Hutchison for allowing six runs in his 3.1 innings of work. He took responsibility for the loss and didn’t want to talk about his mechanics being off or anything that might sound like a cop-out.
“It was just execution and not performing,” said Hutchison. “When we score four runs, we should win. I didn't even give us innings. (Todd) Redmond did a great job, coming in and keeping us in there, giving us a chance to win the game and really cleaning up my mess.”
Manager John Gibbons said Hutchison has been up in the zone for three straight starts dating back to Grapefruit League play, and Sunday he didn’t get away with it.
“He has been off a little bit, even down in Tampa the other night, he pitched a nice ball game but he wasn’t locating like he normally does, and that even goes back to probably his last start against Philly in an exhibition game,” said Gibbons. “He didn’t give up anything but he was high in the zone a lot, but that’s not who he is. He’ll get back down there. He looked a little excited (Sunday), he looked like he was overthrowing, that’s not uncommon for young guys to do that. He’s going to be fine. He’s the least of our worries.”