Adam Lind hears the nice things people are saying about him once again. He's even hearing cheers at the Rogers Centre.
But after watching Lind crush his sixth home run of the season Tuesday, the telling blow in a 6-3 come-from-behind win over the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell suggested he's ready to give Lind what amounts to the ultimate compliment. Nobody has yet suggested he's the everyday cleanup hitter once again, but in Wednesday's game against Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza he could find himself freed from the bottom of the order.
"It would probably be no surprise if he's up higher in the order," Farrell said, after the Blue Jays hit the halfway point of the 162-game season with a 41-40 record with a win in front of 15,516, evening the four-game series at a game each.
Lind's blast came in a six-run Blue Jays fourth against Royals starter Vin Mazzaro (3-3) and helped make a winner of Brett Cecil (2-1), who put forth a battling effort in a game that started with the Rogers Centre closed. Lind's shot came in an inning in which the Blue Jays sent 11 men to the plate and was one of five two-out hits. Brett Lawrie, who entered the night two runs behind the New York Mets' David Wright – whose 53 runs led all major-league third basemen – had a pair of singles in the inning.
Cecil, making his fourth start of the season, gave up five hits and three earned runs in six innings, striking out three and walking one. He retired the first six batters despite starting the game living dangerously high in the strike zone, and ran into trouble in the third when Jason Bourgeois stroked a two-run triple. But Cecil gave the Blue Jays an elusive shut-down inning in the top of the fifth, before Farrell took him out in the seventh following a lead-off double by Mike Moustakas. The Blue Jays escaped from the inning when, with Darren Oliver on the mound, Moustakas was thrown out at home by Jose Bautista on a line drive off the bat of Salvador Perez.
Jays catcher Jeff Mathis had to jump up for the ball and threw his body across the plate, forcing Moutsakas to go around him. Mathis sprawled to prevent Moustakas from coming back to tag the plate, and the two players ended up in a bear hug.
Mathis received kudos for his work with Cecil. It was an accidental pairing of sorts when Cecil returned from the minor leagues, but it has worked well through four starts. Cecil's change-up seemed particularly effective.
"Not giving up back-to-back big innings," was Mathis's response when asked to explain Cecil's outing compared to the 10 hits and eight earned runs he allowed in 5 1/3 innings against a much better team the last time out, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. "For the most part he was able to throw all his pitches for strikes. He got up a little higher in that one inning … but that happens to everyone."
Lind, who rejoined the Blue Jays on June 25 after hitting .392 with 18 extra-base hits in 32 games at Triple-A Las Vegas, had his first multi-homer game of the year on Friday. Farrell said that Lind, ticketed to be the cleanup hitter going into spring training, was more relaxed at the plate since going down to Triple-A. "With relaxation comes bat speed," Farrell said.
Lind did not bite when he was asked if the ball looked bigger to him since his return from the minors. "But," he added, "it does look slower."