By: Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Well, why didn’t you flip the bat?
Isn’t that what all Blue Jays do when they homer against the Texas Rangers? When Justin Smoak, Tuesday night’s hero, was asked the question before Wednesday’s game he looked up with that "are-you-crazy" gaze.
Smoak hit his first homer of the year leading off the ninth on a 1-2 pitch from closer Shawn Tolleson forcing extras and with a man on, one out in the 10th hit Phil Klein’s first pitch for a two-run, walk-off homer. The first drive was to left centre and the gamer to left by the switch-hitting Smoak, who was batting from the left side in both at-bats.
“The first pitch was middle in, the second was middle away,” said Smoak describing the location of both fastballs.
He received calls of from congrats from his former Seattle Mariners teammates Dustin Ackley, now with the New York Yankees and Brad Miller, now with the Tampa Bay Rays and a number of clubhouse people with the M’s.
Miller? That the fast guy who beat you to the bag the other day?
Again Smoak gave that look.
Miller bounced to first, Brett Cecil didn’t cover in time and the Rays infielder beat Smoak to the bag. Two batters later the Rays had their own walk off.
University of South Carolina Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner, who watched Smoak hit 62 homers in 195 games (739 at-bats) in three seasons for the Gamecocks was also in touch.
Never mind all the Blue Jays sluggers over the years like Carlos Delgado (the club leader with 343 homers), Jose Bautista (248 going intoWednesday’s game), Vernon Wells (223), Joe Carter (218), George Bell (202) or Edwin Encarnacion (200), Smoak’s 19th and 20th homers as a Jay made him the first to hit a game-tying homer in the ninth and a walk-off homer in extras.
It also had to be satisfying coming against the Rangers, who selected him 11th overall in the first round of the 2008 draft and dealt him to Seattle after 70 games with Matt Lawson, Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke for Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe.
PEACE BRIDGE TRANSIT AUTHORITY: The Jays promoted lefty reliever Chad Girodo from Buffalo. A ninth round pick in 2013, Girodo worked two scoreless for the Jays last month against the Oakland A’s. Crossing the Peace Bridge in the other lane was infielder Matt Dominguez hitless in seven at-bats over three games. He had one walk and three strikeouts. The Jays will go with an extra pitcher until they head to San Francisco for inter-league play on Monday when they will add a hitter. The Jays also visit the Colorado Rockies, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Los Angeles Dodgers, are here this weekend, while the San Diego Padres, Diamondbacks and the Phillies are NL clubs to visit.
COST OF DOING BIDNESS: So what did Hazel Mae’s dry cleaner say to her when the Sportsnet star walked through the door to drop off some laundry? “I’ve been expecting you,” said the woman behind the counter at Splash Dry Cleaners on Brooker’s Lane. Mae was interviewing Smoak post-game Tuesday when Kevin Pillar and Russell Martin soaked Smoak with pink energy drink. Mae and her green dress wound up with some of the spillage.
GETTING IT DOWN: After a couple of failed bunt attempts this homestand five Jays were out for early hitting practice ... Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney, Michael Saunders, Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera were bunting offerings from the pitching machine.
TRAIN ‘EM RIGHT: Both Texas hitting coaches -- Anthony Iapoce and Justiin Mayshore -- formerly were minor league instructors in the Blue Jays system ... And in a weird nexus of the universe moment Luis Rivera is coaching third for the Jays. He played shortstop for the Montreal Expos for three seasons before being dealt to the Boston Red Sox in 1988 with John Dopson to the Boston Red Sox for Dan Gakeler and shortstop Spike Owen, who is the Rangers interm third base coach.
FINDING ROBERTO: The Jays are still having trouble getting leads to closer Robert Osuna. They have lost five games when leading after six innings, the most in the majors. Osuna pitched Tuesday with the Jays down 1-0 and runners at first and second taking over for Cecil. Barney tracked down a ball in short right making an over-the shoulder catcher and threw out Rougned Odor easily at third. Josh Donaldson applied the tag and Odor didn’t like it. Cecil is 0-5 with 20 base-runners allowed in 9 2/3 innings. The last major-league reliever to open a season with five consecutive losses was left-hander Brian Fuentes with the Oakland A’s in 2011.