If the Toronto Blue Jays need any inspiration as they try to battle back from a 3-1 deficit in the American League Championship Series, they don’t have to look past journeyman outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, who’s making unlikely contributions at the right time
The Toronto Blue Jays are still waiting on some of their regular stalwarts to contribute, but that hasn’t prevented Ezequiel Carrera from emerging as one of the team’s most reliable players in the post-season. From chasing down fly balls to hustling out triples, it seems Carrera can do no wrong these days.
Carrera is hitting .286 with an identical on-base percentage in the American League Champion Series, but that doesn’t measure the true significance of his contributions over the past two days. When the Blue Jays looked flat in Monday’s game, Carrera once again injected some much-needed energy into the team with a leadoff triple to start the fifth. Ryan Goins sent him home the very next at-bat and the game was temporarily tied.
Carrera’s triple wasn’t enough to win Monday’s game, but it easily surpassed the offensive contributions of Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, and Russell Martin on the day, who went a combined 0-11 against Carrera’s two hits. Imagine that: a journeyman outfielder making arguably the biggest offensive contributions in what was then the biggest game of the season for the Blue Jays.
A similar story unfolded yesterday, but this time Carrera’s offensive contributions were gravy on a dominant 5-1 win. For the second straight game, Carrera put up a triple with Kevin Pillar pushing him home this time. Carrera’s two hits on the day saw his ALCS batting average rise to .286, putting him well ahead of Jose Bautista (.071) and Martin (.071).
With the team’s season on the line again today, it might be best for the Blue Jays to drop Bautista from the leadoff spot with Carrera taking his place. Carrera offers the Blue Jays a more dynamic and traditional leadoff hitter when compared to Bautista, and it would take Bautista out of the “circumstances” of a pressure-cooked spot in the batting order.
Bautista isn’t hitting right now, and there are no signs that he’ll start hitting anytime soon, so present circumstances dictate that the Blue Jays drop him from the leadoff spot. Perhaps Bautista can rediscover his swing out of the spotlight and in the middle or bottom of the batting order.
Right now Carrera represents the hot glove and the hot bat, not Bautista, and the Blue Jays need to take notice of this. We’re past the point where loyalty to certain players matters: the season could end today.
Carrera has proven himself throughout the post-season, hitting .333 overall with six runs, three RBI, one home run, and one stolen base. This is his moment, and he has earned the trust of the team and the fans to retake the leadoff spot for an injured Devon Travis.
Bautista’s contributions to the Blue Jays rest largely in the past while Carrera’s contributions rest in the present. We can worry about the future after today’s game.
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Keith Allison CC BY-SA 2.0
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