Blue Jays sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki combined for 114 extra-base hits and 181 RBIs during the regular season.
They were central to Toronto’s playoff surge, whacking baseballs around and out of ballparks as part of the American League’s most prolific offense, but neither had done much in six postseason games before Game 2 of the AL Championship Series on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.
Both have been hampered by injuries, but provided a small bright spot in an otherwise dismal afternoon that included a blown three-run lead that left the Jays in an 0-2 series hole.
“At this time of the year, everybody’s battling a little bit,” Tulowitzki said. “Obviously, me coming back from my broken (shoulder), I’m not the same. But at the same time, I’m trying to do whatever I can to help us win. Same thing with Eddie. He obviously has felt better before, but right now you can’t take any days off. You’ve got to be out there for your team.”
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Tulowitzki, the All-Star shortstop acquired at the trade deadline from the Rockies, suffered a cracked shoulder blade in a Sept. 12 collision with Kevin Pillar.
He was 2 for 21 with a home run and four RBIs in the Jays’ five-game AL Division Series win against the Rangers then went hitless in four at-bats to start the ALCS.
Encarnacion, who left ALCS Game 1 with a swollen left middle finger he’s been dealing with for months, fared better, but was only 6 for 21 with two extra-base hits and three RBIs in the postseason before Saturday.
Both broke out with two hits in Game 2 and, for an inning, it looked like Encarnacion’s RBI single and Tulowitzki’s RBI double in the sixth had provided the insurance Toronto needed to even the series.
“It’s good,” fellow Jays slugger Jose Bautista said. “We need those guys. We need every single person that’s on this roster to do something to help us win every single day. Those guys are great players and we expect nothing but great things from them.”