The Toronto Blue Jays rolled 4-0 over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon, with left-hander Mark Buehrle winning his league-leading 10th game and slugger Edwin Encarnacion hitting his 19th home run of the season. The Jays also got the lion's share of luck on a play that, in an alternate universe somewhere, might have ignited a rally for Kansas City.
Playing first base in the fourth inning, Encarnacion tried to catch a pop up hit by Lorenzo Cain, but he appeared to lose track of the ball in the sun. Dropping to a knee and shielding his eyes with his mitt, Encarnacion made a fruitless stab at the ball as it hit the artificial turf perhaps 12-15 feet in fair territory. The ball — which never made contact with a player while it was live — took a high and crooked bounce on the spongy turf and crossed the first-base line. The crowd at Rogers Centre let out a collective groan as runners stood at the corners, but Buehrle pumped his fist, because the ball hadn't passed the bag yet. It was foul. Just a funny looking strike. If the play happens like that in, say, right field, it's a fair ball. Bad timing for the Royals, and good job by the Blue Jays — purposely or not — to not touch the ball in fair ground.
Some ballparks, like U.S. Cellular in Chicago, are notorious for having a literal home-field advantage. Because of the way the baselines are tilled by the grounds crew, certain kind of bunts will tend to stay fair, while others will tend to go foul. Now the Royals know about Rogers Centre. If they let a high pop drop in the infield near the baselines, chances are that baby is going foul. Knowledge is power!
Of course, all it meant for Cain was getting at least one more swing with a 3-2 count. Buehrle made it all moot, striking out Cain to end the inning. He cruised from there, allowing six hits over eight innings and lowering his ERA to 2.10.
Encarnacion made amends at the plate — although any player could have lost the ball on defense — by hitting a two-run home run in the eighth to cap the scoring. Encarnacion's sizzling May did not stop with the turn of the calendar:
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