Rookie sparks Jays

The Canadian Press

TORONTO–Left-fielder Teoscar Hernandez was so excited by the biggest game of his young career that he couldn’t wait to see his family visiting him in Toronto.
Unfortunately, that meant rushing out of the clubhouse before anyone else got to speak with him.
The 24-year-old Hernandez hit home runs in back-to-back innings, and knocked in five runs, to power Toronto past the Detroit Tigers 8-2 yesterday afternoon to become the first Blue Jays’ rookie with a multi-homer game since J.P. Arencibia did it back on July 22, 2011.
He also added a single and scored a run in only his seventh game with Toronto.
“If you’ve been around the game for a while, it’s nice to see the wide-eyed look, the excitement,” said veteran infielder Darwin Barney, who went 4-for-4 on the day.
“It brings some energy to these games where maybe both teams aren’t necessarily where they want to be,” he noted.
“There’s a lot to be played for right now for some people so it was fun to watch.”
Hernandez played 41 games for the Houston Astros in 2016 and one game for them in 2017 before coming to Toronto with veteran outfielder Nori Aoki in a trade for pitcher Francisco Liriano on July 31.
Although he previously had played in 48 MLB games, Hernandez still qualifies as a rookie since he had less than 130 at-bats heading into yesterday’s game.
His enthusiasm on and off the field is a welcome addition to a Jays’ team that will be missing the post-season for the first time in three years.
“I told him congrats every time he came through the dugout,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons.
“They’re getting a lot of backslapping so they don’t need a lot from me, really,” he noted.
“Kid’s got a big smile. Kid’s got energy, enthusiasm,” Gibbons added.
“One of those guys that brings energy.”
J.A. Happ (8-10) struck out nine over six innings of work, allowing two runs–one earned–as Toronto (66-77) won the three-game series with back-to-back wins.
Luis Santos made his third MLB appearance, pitching three innings of scoreless relief to earn his first career save.
Happ’s solid performance is welcome news for the Jays, who had to end right-hander Aaron Sanchez’s season after yesterday’s game.
Sanchez has struggled with a nagging blister on his throwing hand all year and Toronto will not test it, instead letting him recuperate in the off-season.
Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer for the only offence by Detroit (60-82).
Anibal Sanchez (3-4) struggled, giving up seven runs on 12 hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Jeff Ferrell, Artie Lewicki, and former Jay Daniel Norris came out of the Tigers’ bullpen, allowing only one unearned run.