TORONTO — Josh Donaldson Jersey never shies away from showing emotion on the field, but his adrenaline was running even higher than normal in the fifth inning of Thursday’s 4-2 victoryover the Yankees.
The Blue Jays were trailing, 2-0, when Donaldson stepped to the plate and sent a no-doubter over the wall in straightaway center field. He paused to admire the three-run shot, but even more telling was his reaction after crossing home plate.
Donaldson pounded his chest a couple of times, let out several screams, and the celebration continued in the dugout. More than anything else, Donaldson appeared to be trying to fire up his teammates and send a wake-up message to a lineup that has gotten off to a slow start this season.
“I don’t think we’ve quite clicked offensively the way that we’re going to probably in the next week or so, hopefully tomorrow,” Josh Donaldson Canada Day Jersey said after the game. “I feel like guys are starting to have better at-bats one through nine, and that’s our strength, having good at-bats one through nine.
“I’ve had some bad at-bats, as well as some other people in here, and that’s just the thing we need to continue to progress in, have better at-bats and take advantage of mistakes. When we do get guys on base, we need to take advantage of it.”
Toronto’s lineup has been expected to be the best in baseball once again this season, but the early returns haven’t quite been there. Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, Kevin Pillar and the duo of Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak have combined to record six extra-base hits through the club’s opening 10 games.
Those numbers will eventually change, but while the Toronto lineup has struggled, Donaldson more than held up his end of the bargain. He has at least one hit in every game this season, and his five home runs are tied with Robinson Cano for the most in the American League. Overall, he is batting .325 with 12 RBIs and a 1.147 OPS.
“I feel like my bat is moving faster than it normally has in the past,” Donaldson said. “That’s either partially due to some things I was cleaning up from last year, and my body feels really good right now, mechanically I feel really sound. I trust myself and trust my eyes, and allow the game to come to me. When I do that, I tend to have some success.”
The fifth inning of Thursday’s game proved to be the turning point. Toronto was in danger of having another off night at the plate resulting in a loss, but one swing of the bat changed all of that. According to Statcast™, Donaldon’s three-run shot off Nathan Eovaldi was projected to travel 424 feet and left his bat at 111 mph. It singlehandedly gave Toronto the edge.
“The ball sat there for Josh, and he hit that a mile,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.