TORONTO – Besides being more relaxed at the plate since his stint in the minors, Adam Lind is showing better bat speed and better swings.
Swings like the one he put on a 1-1 slider from Vin Mazzaro in the fourth inning Tuesday that resulted in a three-run homer to lift the Toronto Blue Jays over the Kansas City Royals 6-3.
“That was one of the things I worked on when I was down there was being more relaxed and having more rhythm,” Lind said.
Lind hit it against the facing of the second deck to cap a six-run inning and back six strong innings from left-hander Brett Cecil (2-1).
Cecil allowed five hits and three runs in six-plus innings to pick up the win in his fourth start since being recalled from the minors June 15.
It was Lind’s sixth homer of the season and his third since he was recalled from triple-A Las Vegas June 25.
“I think just overall he’s freed up mentally,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said, “and that’s allowed him to relax and take some of the tension from his body overall and with that relaxation comes bat speed and that’s been the case.”
Lind batted eighth in lineup as designated hitter on Tuesday, as he has since being recalled, while also playing at first base.
“It probably would not be a surprise tomorrow if he’s up a little bit higher in the order,” Farrell said.
They key for Cecil was coming back from allowing three runs in third and then holding the Royals runless despite allowing the first two batters on base in the fourth.
“I think the two most important innings that I had were the fourth inning and the fifth inning,” Cecil said. “The fourth inning I got the two leadoff guys on and was able to get out of that after giving up three in the third. And the team came in and scored six runs after that and I had a shutdown inning after that.”
Mazzaro (3-3) allowed 13 hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss for the Royals (36-43).
Casey Janssen pitched the ninth to earn his 10th save of the season. The four-game series is 1-1.
The Royals took a 3-0 lead in the third when Jason Bourgeois tripled to bring in Jeff Francoeur and Salvador Perez. Alex Gordon hit a sacrifice fly to score Bourgeois.
“The balls they hit were good pitches,” Cecil said. “The curveball to (Bourgeois triple) it was down but on the wrong side of the plate. That was the only pitch that inning I’d like back.”
Cecil worked out of the top of the fourth after putting the first two runners on with a walk and a single.
The Blue Jays (41-40) sent 11 hitters to the plate in their big fourth inning that featured Lind’s two-out homer that broke a 3-3 tie.
Brett Lawrie led off the inning with a single and Colby Rasmus reached on a bunt. Lawrie took third on Jose Bautista’s fly out and scored on an infield single by Edwin Encarnacion.
Yunel Escobar loaded the bases with an infield single and Rajai Davis singled in two runs. Lind followed with a homer against the facing of the second deck in right.
Cecil left in favour of Jason Frasor in the seventh after a leadoff double by Mike Moustakas, who moved to third on a Francoeur ground out.
“With the exception of the third inning he stayed out of the middle of the plate,” Farrell said. “He mixed and matched his stuff well. And once again he and Jeff (Mathis) did an excellent job working together.”
Moustakas tried to tag up and score on a moderate fly to right field by Perez, but was thrown out at home when Bautista made a high throw for Mathis who was able to gather it in and block off the plate.
“We had some good at-bats, just didn’t get anything to show for it,” Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. “He had a good little curve and a cutting fastball. They put a six spot up and that kind of takes the wind out of you.”
Jays left-hander Darren Oliver took over in the eighth and was greeted by a Jarrod Dyson leadoff double. Dyson stole third with two out but Oliver struck out Eric Hosmer to end the inning.
Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 15,516. … After Monday’s 11-3 loss, the Blue Jays designated for assignment right-hander David Pauley and right-hander Drew Carpenter was promoted from triple-A Las Vegas. Carpenter was 1-1 with an 8.51 earned-run average in 17 major-league games, including one start, over the previous four seasons with Philadelphia and San Diego. …Bautista will be in the Home Run Derby at the all-star Game next week in Kansas City. It will be his second appearance in the event and it is his third all-star Game. …Carlos Villanueva (2-0, 3.52 earned-run average) will make his second start of the season for Toronto on Wednesday after making 22 relief appearances when he faces Kansas City’s Luis Mendoza (3-4, 4.50 ERA).