TORONTO (AP) — Just over a month ago, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was toiling in Triple-A after being demoted in mid-April.
Since returning to Toronto on May 24, he’s leading the major leagues in home runs.
Eric Sogard hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, Gurriel Jr. homered twice for his second straight multi-homer game and the Blue Jays snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
Randal Grichuk added a two-run homer for Toronto, which won its second straight at home following a seven-game losing streak.
“I feel like the team is going through a very good moment offensively,” Gurriel Jr. said through a translator.
No one more so than he. Gurriel Jr. has 14 homers in 125 at-bats since being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. He’s batting .352 (44 for 125) in that span.
San Diego’s Hunter Renfroe has hit 13 homers in the same time, doing so in 28 games to Gurriel’s 32.
Gurriel Jr. hit a two-run homer off Danny Duffy in the sixth and added a solo shot off Wily Peralta in the eighth, the fourth multi-homer game of his career. Gurriel Jr. also homered twice in Wednesday’s loss at Yankee Stadium.
He’s the fourth player in Blue Jays’ history with consecutive multi-homer games. The others were Josh Donaldson (2017), Edwin Encarnacion (2014), and Jesse Barfield (1983).
Duffy said Gurriel Jr. is “going to be a star” with the way he’s hitting right now.
“He has an approach well beyond his years,” Duffy said. “I heard he was demoted early on in the year and I just can’t fathom it with the way he looks now. I’m really impressed with the kid and I think he’s got a bright future. I need to make less mistakes to him.”
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo opened his post-game remarks by campaigning for Gurriel to get an All-Star selection.
“He’s done great,” Montoyo said. “It’s been fun to watch.”
Sogard broke a 2-2 tie with a two-out homer to right off Duffy (3-4). The homer was Sogard’s ninth, extending his career-high. Sogard began the season with 11 homers in eight seasons, and had never hit more than three in a season before this year.
Grichuk capped the scoring with a two-out homer off Tim Hill in the eighth, his team-leading 15th.
Right-hander Daniel Hudson (4-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win.
Duffy allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He’s winless in seven starts since beating the Los Angeles Angels on May 19.
“He made two mistakes and had to pay for both of them,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Six of the 10 homers hit off Duffy this season have come in his last three starts.
Kansas City has lost five of seven.
Sean Reid-Foley made his first start for the Blue Jays since April 1. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Kansas City’s Martin Maldonado opened the scoring with a two-out homer off Reid-Foley in the fifth, his fourth. Maldonado went 3 for 4 with three extra-base hits.
David Phelps replaced Reid-Foley in the sixth after Nicky Lopez doubled and Alex Gordon followed with an RBI single.
Toronto tied it in the bottom half on Gurriel’s first homer.
Kansas City loaded the bases against Joe Biagini in the seventh, but Hudson came on and got the Blue Jays out of the jam. First baseman Justin Smoak made a backhanded stop on Nicky Lopez’s grounder, then won the race to the bag to end the inning.
Gordon hit a leadoff double against Hudson in the eighth, but Hudson struck out the next three batters.
“We had opportunities, we just couldn’t capitalize on some of them,” Yost said.
Royals: INF Adalberto Mondesi (strained right groin) is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Saturday. Mondesi has been out since June 18.
Blue Jays: Smoak was activated off the injured list after missing 11 games because of a strained left quadriceps. OF Billy McKinney was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
JUST MISSED IT
Gurriel Jr. flied to center in his first at bat, and Duffy felt fortunate not to have given up a home run.
“I definitely got lucky,” Duffy said. “He got under that ball.”
Gurriel Jr., who was behind in the count 0-2 when he flied out, said he shortened up and didn’t swing as hard.
“I hit it good,” he said. “For a moment, I thought it was gone but it just didn’t happen.”
Royals: RHP Homer Bailey (7-6, 4.61) makes his first career start against the Blue Jays. Toronto is the only major league team Bailey has yet to face.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (5-9, 3.04) pitched six shutout innings to beat Boston in his previous start, June 23 at Fenway Park.
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