- 142 wins
- 110 wins
TORONTO -- It might have taken a little while, but Colby Rasmus has all of a sudden become one of the Blue Jays' most reliable hitters.
After a disappointing 2011 season and a somewhat slow start to the year, Rasmus has found another gear in Toronto. His spot near the top of the lineup is secure and there are plenty of positives to be found in his overall production.
Rasmus came through again on Sunday afternoon with a three-hit game -- including a two-run homer -- while Brett Cecil tossed five strong innings to lead the Blue Jays to a 6-2 victory over the Phillies at Rogers Centre.
"Good offensive approach at the plate, particularly with Rasmus," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Just an outstanding day. There were a number of balls he ran down in the center field. He's swinging the bat with a lot of confidence."
Rasmus has been on a tear since making several key changes to his hitting mechanics during a series against the Mets in mid-May. He opted to move up in the batter's box and closer to the plate.
It's a similar style to the one he used while coming up through the Minor Leagues. At the time of the change, Rasmus believed it would stop him from over-thinking during each at-bat and also improve his ability to attack outside pitches.
The results have been impressive ever since. Rasmus is batting .321 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 19 RBIs in the past 25 games. The entire point behind the altered mechanics was to improve his offensive performance. But even Rasmus couldn't have imagined it would create such a dramatic turnaround.
"You never know in this game what's going to happen," Rasmus said. "Some days, I go out there, feel good, and I don't play good. Some days, I go out there and don't feel good, but I play good. So it's kind of hard to tell. I hoped I would get back to being myself and driving the baseball and having fun. [I'm] taking that approach up there against those pitchers and being able to battle with what I think I can do."
With his father in attendance for a special Father's Day ceremony, Rasmus opened the scoring in the first inning with an RBI double to the gap in left-center field off Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick.
Rasmus struck again in the fifth with a deep two-run shot to right field. His 10th homer of the season came on a first-pitch fastball and was sent into the second-deck seats for his second home run of the homestand.
Toronto's center fielder would later add a single in the seventh that resulted in another Blue Jays run. Overall, it was an impressive day at the plate and a continuation of what he has been able to achieve for the past month.
"It was important for me," Rasmus said of having a strong game with his father Tony watching from a Rogers Centre suite. "It's always good to get that feeling of having your dad in town and it being Father's Day. Now that I'm a father, it's a great thing and I enjoyed it a lot."
As a group, the Blue Jays also enjoyed a successful day at the plate. Toronto scored six runs for the second consecutive day, after having failed to tally more than three in all but one of their previous nine contests.
Kendrick, who also surrendered RBI singles to Rajai Davis and Kelly Johnson, had an inconsistent afternoon on the mound. He surrendered six runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. It marked the third consecutive start that Kendrick has allowed at least five runs.
"I felt like I pitched a lot better than what my numbers showed," Kendrick said. "A couple mistakes they hit and didn't miss. It's a pretty good hitting team over there, I have to give them credit."
Cecil made his first start of the season after a more than two-month stint with Double-A New Hampshire. It was a successful return for the pitcher who was expected to open the year as the club's No. 3 starter until a subpar Spring Training forced his demotion to the Minor Leagues.
The 25-year-old lefty hit 90 miles per hour on the radar gun on multiple occasions. But more importantly, Cecil seemed to have better control when compared to last season.
Cecil's only two major mistakes came on a pair of solo home runs to Jim Thome and John Mayberry Jr. He was charged with the two runs on five hits and one walk, while striking out five, in his first victory since July 29, 2011.
"The curveball has gotten a lot better and it's a lot tighter," Cecil said when asked what he has improved the most over the past year. "That, and just being able to control the ball a lot better with all of my pitches and throwing to both sides of the plate."
With the win, the Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies and closed out their homestand with an even 3-3 record. The club now travels to Milwaukee, where it will begin a nine-game, three-city road trip.
The three-game winning streak couldn't have come at a better time, after the club lost three-fifths of its rotation -- Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison -- to the disabled list earlier in the week.
"Good series, on the heels of getting swept in the previous one, to come back and close things out today," Farrell said. "Not just to even up the homestand, but to potentially gain a little momentum going forward in light of the recent events with the number of injuries that we've had."