TORONTO – Edwin Encarnacion set the whole country on its ear with his spectacular performance in the Toronto Blue Jays’ blowout win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday afternoon. The three home runs were fantastic enough, but the nine RBIs were a touch more so, since no Blue Jay had accomplished that feat since Roy Howell did it against the Yankees on Sept. 10 of the team’s inaugural 1977 season.
Saturday’s performance also extended Encarnacion’s hit streak to 24 games, a major-league best this year, and the Elias Sports Bureau found that he became the first player ever to drive in more than six runs in a game after he’d already had a hit in at least 20 straight.
On Sunday, Encarnacion extended his hit streak to 25 with a first-inning home run, his 30th of the season, giving him the homer cycle over two games after hitting a two-run and three-run shot to go with his grand slam Saturday. Encarnacion is now just three games shy of Shawn Green’s franchise-record hit streak of 28 games, accomplished in June and July of 1999.
But that first-inning homer made a lot more Blue Jays history for Encarnacion than just a shot at a club-record hit streak.
Encarnacion now has 35 RBI this August, which is a Blue Jays record for any month. He’s also the first hitter to drive in 35 runs in a month for any big-league team in five years. The last one to turn the trick is his shortstop – Troy Tulowitzki had 35 for the Colorado Rockies in September of 2010.
The Sunday homer also gave Encarnacion an extra-base hit in eight consecutive games – he’s the first Blue Jay to do that since Green had one in nine straight in ‘99. Encarnacion also tied a Blue Jays record by driving in a run for the eighth straight game. Willie Upshaw was the first Blue Jay to do that, in 1983, and since then Carlos Delgado has done it twice (2000, 2003) and Matt Stairs got a piece of that record in 2007.
Encarnacion can take sole possession of the club record for consecutive games with an RBI if he drives in a run in the team’s August finale against Cleveland on Monday night, but no matter what he does he’ll have another club record all to himself.
Jose Bautista currently holds the Blue Jays’ all-time mark for highest slugging percentage in a month — his .791 in May of 2011 is the standard. But after his single and homer in three at-bats Sunday, Encarnacion’s slugging percentage this August sits at an incredible .927 with one game to go. That means that he could go 0-for-14 in Monday’s game and still wind up better than Bautista’s current record.
Encarnacion is getting help setting records, of course. Of his 35 RBI, he’s only driven himself in 11 times and he has combined with Josh Donaldson to set another club record. The Bringer of Rain has 33 ribbies of his own in the month of August, and according again to the wizards at Elias, it’s the first time the Blue Jays have ever had two players drive in at least 30 runs in a month. The last time it happened in the major leagues at all was when Moises Alou and Richard Hidalgo did it for the Houston Astros in September of 2000.
Last year, Encarnacion tied Mickey Mantle’s American League record with 16 home runs in the month of May. He was the AL Player of the Month, helping carry the Blue Jays to a 21-9 mark, batting .281/.369/.763 (1.132 OPS). He’s not only been better than that this August, he’s been over 250 points of OPS better. This month, Edwin is hitting .402/.458/.927 (1.385 OPS) despite his relatively paltry 11 home runs, and the Blue Jays are 21-5. Another piece of awesome in what’s shaping up to be a pretty phenomenal season around these parts.