Count Lourdes Gurriel Jr. among those who will not want to see the calendar turn from June to July.
Gurriel has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters all month and his streak continued Friday night. The native of Cuba picked up the fourth multi-homer game of his career, while Eric Sogard and Randal Grichuk chipped in with home runs of their own, in the Blue Jays’ 6-2 victory over the Royals at the Rogers Centre.
The 25-year-old Gurriel has five home runs over his last four games and 14 since being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on May 24, which is the most in the major leagues over that span. Gurriel also extended his streak of multi-hit games to six with a 2-for-4 night at the plate, which included three RBIs.
“It’s not that easy to do what he’s doing,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He has been outstanding, defensively and offensively. He’s getting a chance to play every day. He’s comfortable in left and he’s hitting breaking balls. He’s hitting all kinds of pitches. There’s no one way to pitch him right now.”
Since rejoining the Blue Jays in late May, Gurriel is batting .352 (44-for-125) with 27 runs scored, eight doubles, a triple and 26 RBIs over 32 games. His 44 hits since that time are tied with Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield for the second most in the American League over that span. The Yankees’ D.J. LeMahieu leads all hitters with 45.
The numbers are almost as impressive for Sogard, who has been a surprising source of power this season. Prior to 2019, Sogard had 11 career home runs across parts of eight years in the big leagues. This season he already has nine, with the latest coming off Royals starter Danny Duffy to snap a 2-2 deadlock in the seventh inning. Sogard is batting .305 with an .882 OPS this season and continues to be one of the unsung heroes of an underwhelming Toronto roster.
“In general, not just me, pretty much the entire team is going through a very good moment offensively,” Gurriel said through an interpreter after the game. “So far, we’re very happy about it … If the team wins, then I’m pleased with that.”
Jays right-hander Sean Reid-Foley came away with a no-decision despite a strong outing. Three days after coming out of the bullpen in New York, Reid-Foley allowed just two runs while scattering five hits and a walk with three strikeouts. He was in line for the loss until Gurriel and Sogard started putting on a show. Duffy took the loss after allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk over 6 2/3 innings.
- The future ace: Major League Baseball announced on Friday afternoon that right-hander Nate Pearson will represent the Jays at the upcoming Futures Game, which will take place next month in Cleveland as part of the all-star game festivities. Pearson, who is ranked Toronto’s No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has a 2.70 ERA in 262/3 innings for Double-A New Hampshire.
- Return of the Smoak: Justin Smoak was activated from the 10-day injured list prior to Friday night’s game, while outfielder Billy McKinney was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to make room on the 25-man roster. Smoak went 1-for-3 with a walk in his first game since June 14. The veteran slugger missed the previous two weeks because of a left quad injury.
- Up next: Right-hander Marcus Stroman (5-9, 3.04) will take the mound when the Jays continue their four-game series against the Royals on Saturday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 4:07 p.m. Kansas City is set to counter with right-hander Homer Bailey (7-6, 4.61).
Gregor Chisholm is a Toronto-based baseball columnist for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @GregorChisholm or reach him via email: email@example.com