TORONTO – If you watch closely, signs that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has turned after a long cold spell have been around for the past week or so.
Check out these samples of the twists, beginning with the third round double Friday night at the Texas Rangers where he circled a 90.7 mph diver from Dane Dunning and lined up 411 feet at 107.7 mph off the central field wall.
Here’s the fourth-stroke base hit Saturday at 111.4 mph from sinking 92.9 mph down and away from John King.
This is the first double also torn at 111.4 mph on Sunday versus the 92.4 mph cutoff down and off Martin Perez.
Finally, some rescue for the Toronto Blue Jays champ in Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays when he ran Drew Rasmussen at 95.5 mph and fired 363 feet at 98.3 mph for his first home since Aug. 30 and the second. In the last 26 games.
Each swing damaged a pitch in the lower third of the strike zone, the area where opponents most often attempt to attack and where contact regularly produces ground balls which has become a frequent moot point.
If Guerrero starts squashing in there, well, good luck pitchers.
“It’s only about the stadiums he plays,” interim manager John Schneider said before the match. “When a player hits bid/no-quote, those decisions get a little broader, if you will. I don’t think there’s anything mechanical now in watching it. It’s just where it’s shown, and he wants to perform well. I’d love to see it.” He walks and then swings up a hanging slide and hits him, or hits him in the gap. That’s where you see he’s back. He wants to help. He wants to be a big part of the team. Just slowing him down and really looking for his specific area will be what he needs.”
Of course, making opponents pay when they bring it down is another way to force them to climb into the area, where they may end up getting stuck slides and walking more.
The teams clearly think getting rid of it is the right way to go. That’s how Rays approached him Wednesday. With a globe average of 52 per cent, up about seven per cent from last year, the rivals were able to contain it much better than last season.
It’s worth noting that Guerrero is still among the 30 most productive hitters in the big companies and the reason he feels like he’s going through a down season is because of the highs he hit a year ago.
If this was his floor, it was a very damned elite ground.
“Obviously he was offered very deliberately by Tampa and two other teams,” Schneider said. “He’s really focused on getting the ball in the hit zone. We all see the results when the ball lands in the hit zone where the ball comes off its racket. That’s a conscious thing to work on. But if Vlad starts, we’re talking about an elite hitter and one of the best players in the game. Add to that what Bo (Bichette) does and that’s really good for us. With a hitter like that, you have to be patient and know he’ll do what he wants.”
warrior 28The tenth Homer of the season gave the Blues (81-62) a 1-0 lead in the first half and jumped them to a third win over four games from the Rays (79-63), who dropped 1.5 games back into the wild-card race.
The first all-star starter restarted the match with a second-half player pick and Bichette followed him with an RBI single that made it 3-0, with RBI singles scoring from Santiago Espinal in fourth and Rimmel Tapia in sixth. 5-0 edge.
It was all too much for Ross Strebling, who continued his stellar season with another 6.1 innings of a massive baseball game, while keeping the Rays team under his thumb the entire time. He allowed three hits, one of which was Harold Ramirez with Homer who opened seventh, and left before facing enemy Manuel Margo, who doubled on the second and third time.