By Bob Elliott
BALTIMORE _ Justin Smoak has hit 17 homers this season for Your Toronto Blue Jays.
Seven are of no-doubt variety travelling 400 feet or more, including a 452-foot blast off Boston Red Sox Robbie Ross at the Rogers Centre, which was his longest.
And with the game on the line in the top of the ninth inning Monday night -- the tying run at third and one out -- the adrenalin pumping, hands gripping the bat, the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder muscled up ...
And the Big Smoak dribbled an 0-1 pitch from reliever Brad Bach up the first base line.
“I probably hit that about what 12 feet?” asked Smoak in the Jays clubhouse.
Closer to 75.
First baseman Chris Davis charged and threw home but not quick enough to erase pinch runner Dalton Pompey.
“Whatever the distance was,” said Smoak, “it got the job done.”
If the Jays are going to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the eighth to win on a 75 foot nubber while the New York Yankees went meekly into the Bronx night, losing 6-1 to the Boston Red Sox with the magic number falling to two ... well we’re going out on a limb here:
Tuesday could be the night.
The Jays could clinch as they send undefeated, untied Marcus Stroman against Miguel Gonzalez.
Get home from work early.
Eat and digest before you turn on Jamie Campbell and Gregg Zaun.
Let the kids stay up late to see the first official post-game spritz ... Saturday’s clinching of a wild-card berth was like seeing a movie trailer. Clinching the first American League East title since 1993 will be like watching a feature film for you in the Big Smoke, the hinterlands and coast to coast.
Of course if might not happen until Wednesday or Thursday.
But a team that was 50-50 on July 28 is now 26 games over .500.
The unfairness of it all: So Brach does his job, jams Smoak and as the game winner speeds home from third ...
“No different that Marco Estrada giving up a bloop single to Matt Wieters (in the fourth),” said Mark Buehrle. “The next guy (Jonathan Scoop) hit a line drive to left. By rights the first guy should have been out and the second guy should have had a hit.”
But that’s “the way baseball go,” as former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington used to say.
“Justin doesn’t have to hit .400, he’s not Ted Williams, even a ground ball there gets the job done,” said the 16-year veteran. “I believe over the course of a season things like run support even out.”
The Big (Justin) Smoak’s long-distance drives
Date Against Pitcher Distance Stadium
July 1, Boston, Robbie Ross 452 feet, Rogers Centre,
Sept. 27, Tampa Bay, Brandon Gomes, 431, Rogers Centre,
July 1, Boston, Rick Porcello, 430, Rogers Centre
June 10, Miami, Tom Koehler, 429, Rogers Centre
Aug. 12, Oakland, Felix Dubront, 420 Rogers Centre
June 12, Boston Tommy Layne, 414, Fenway Park
Aug. 21, Anaheim, Jose Alarez, 403, Angel Stadium
Avg distance 391.1
_ ESPN Home Run Tracker