Toronto outfielder Teoscar Hernandez hit the cover off the ball as a September callup last year.
He’s doing it again this year since coming up from triple-A Buffalo and has made a strong case for remaining with the Blue Jays despite their crowded outfield situation.
Hernandez had four hits on Wednesday — a homer, triple and two singles — as Toronto pasted the Kansas City Royals 15-5 to complete a three-game sweep.
Yangervis Solarte also homered and Curtis Granderson belted a grand slam as the Blue Jays (12-5) used a 15-hit attack to extend their winning streak to four games.
Granderson’s blast came in a six-run eighth inning and gave Hernandez one last chance to try to bat for the cycle.
"I didn’t want the inning to end with me, with him having an opportunity to do something magical," Granderson said. "But because of that, it just allowed the body to relax and go ahead and be able to come up in a big way in that situation."
Hernandez, who struck out in the eighth, was recalled last Friday. He has minor-league options and could be returned to the Bisons.
"I got that confidence from last year because I got the opportunity, I got the chance to show what I got," he said. "It makes me feel better every day when I get a chance in the lineup."
Toronto’s outfielder list includes Granderson, Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce and Randal Grichuk. Kendrys Morales is slated to return from the disabled list Friday and will likely slot back in as the designated hitter.
It was the first homer of the season for Hernandez and his first career four-hit game. He set rookie records last year with eight homers and 20 RBIs for the month of September and is currently batting at a .421 clip.
It will be a tough call for members of the Blue Jays’ brass.
"It’s not going to be an easy decision whatever we choose to do, but we’ll have to make one," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "But like I said, he can’t play any better."
Starter J.A. Happ struck out eight batters over six innings as the Blue Jays improved their record at Rogers Centre to 7-3.
The Royals (3-13) have lost eight games in a row.
Hernandez and Solarte homered in Toronto’s three-run third inning and the Blue Jays pulled ahead to stay with two unearned runs in the fifth. A three-run seventh inning — highlighted by a Hernandez two-run triple — gave the Blue Jays some insurance before they piled on in the eighth.
"We’re playing good baseball," Gibbons said. "The bottom line is we’re doing everything well. You ride that."
Pillar had three hits to extend his hitting streak to nine games. The Royals managed eight hits on the day.
Happ (3-1) was steady over his appearance. His only real hiccups were a two-run double to Mike Moustakas in the third inning and a two-run homer to Whit Merrifield in the fifth.
The Toronto southpaw allowed five hits, four earned runs and two walks.
Royals starter Ian Kennedy (1-2) shouldered the loss. He allowed four earned runs, eight hits and three walks over five innings while striking out six.
In the third, Hernandez blasted a 2-1 pitch into the standing room section above the wall in centre field for his first home run of the season.
Solarte’s blast was also a no-doubter. The solo shot was his fourth homer of the year.
Jorge Solar hit his first homer of the season for Kansas City in the eighth inning. Announced attendance was 28,803 and the game took three hours five minutes to play.
Notes: Granderson has nine career grand slams. … Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin moved to third base once Maile entered the game. … Gibbons said Josh Donaldson (shoulder) will likely need more time before returning from the disabled list. Donaldson is eligible to be activated Saturday. … Sweatshirts celebrating the Blue Jays’ World Series wins in 1992 and 1993 were given away before the game. … The Blue Jays reached the 12-win mark in 17 games this season. It took them 32 games to win 12 times last year. … Toronto will begin a four-game series in New York on Thursday. Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 3.66 ERA) is scheduled to start against Yankees veteran CC Sabathia (0-0, 4.00). … The Royals are off Thursday and will start a weekend set against the Detroit Tigers on Friday.