Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s three-run homer in the eighth inning is the difference as the Toronto Blue Jays take down the New York Yankees
It took 33 games for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to play the savior Toronto Blue Jays fans expect him to be.
On Wednesday night, with the Blue Jays trailing the New York Yankees 7-6 with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Guerrero hit a go-ahead, three-run home run off a 95 mph. sinker from Yankees reliever Zach Britton to give Toronto a 9-7 lead. The home run to left-center field was measured at 434 feet with a 109 mph. exit velocity.
The Blue Jays went on to defeat the Yankees 11-7 after two more home runs in the inning by Randal Grichuk and Brandon Drury, taking the first two games of a three-game series against the AL East leaders.
The past month has been miserable for the Blue Jays, but Guerrero looks to be finding his comfort level in the big leagues. He didn’t hit a home run in his first 13 games after his Major League debut on April 26. In 20 games since, however, he’s had seven and is now hitting .317 in his last 10 games. He finished Wednesday’s game at Rogers Centre 2-3 with three RBI, increasing his batting average to .256 on the season.
It’s not just that Guerrero is finally hitting the ball. He’s hitting it with authority. Despite not playing the first month of the season, Guerrero has four batted balls measured at more than 115 mph. Only five other players — Joey Gallo, Nelson Cruz, Mike Trout, Pete Alonso and Gary Sanchez — even have two. A single he hit off Ivan Nova back on May 11 was clocked at 118.9 mph., the second-hardest hit ball of the season. Among players with at least five home runs this season, he’s fourth in average distance at 425 feet.
It’s no surprise, then, that Guerrero is already thinking about challenging the game’s top sluggers. When asked by a reporter before the game whether he would be open to taking part in next month’s Home Run Derby in Cleveland, Guerrero said he would. His father, a Baseball Hall of Famer, won the Derby in 2007.
Taking part in the Derby would be a chance for Guerrero to show off his power to a league-wide audience. His home fans in Toronto got to see it on Wednesday, and it gave the club a rare bright moment in what’s shaping up to be a dark season.