The Closer: Three Buck chuck

John Buck... becomes the first catcher with three bombs in one game since Victor Martinez in 2004 for the Indians. Buck did the damage while batting 8th in the Blue Jays lineup. The last player with 3 home runs from the 8-hole was Tony Clark in 2004... he hit those AGAINST the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays have now had 16 three-HR games by a single player. That is tied with the Reds for the third-most by a franchise since the Blue Jays' first season in 1977. The Indians and Cubs each have 17 in that span.


John Buck In Two-Strike Counts

Hitter of the Night

John Buck, TOR: 3-4, 3 HR, 5 RBI

Buck, came into the game batting .155, he connected on a curveball in the third inning to get Toronto on the board. In the fourth and then again in the sixth, Buck nailed two fastballs, giving the Jays the lead for good. Buck saw 17 pitches overall, including seven with two strikes and that's where the damage occurred. Buck hit two of his home runs with two strike counts.

Paul Konerko turning back the clock

Paul Konerko's second


Paul Konerko on pitches up in the zone

home run in the 9th inning Thursday came on a pitch up in the zone, an area that Konerko has vastly improved in from a year ago. Baseball's leading home run hitter has now surpassed his 2009 total for home runs up in the zone as well as his overall batting average. Last season Konerko didn't hit his 10th home run until June 23rd... his 68th GAME of the year. Thursday Konerko hit his 10th in just his 72nd AT-BAT of 2010. Thats 172 fewer at-bats than he needed last year to reach double-digits.

Break up the Rays

The Rays are 17-5. They are the 22nd team in the divisional era (since 1969) to start 17-5 or better in their first 22 games, the first since the 2003 Giants, Royals, and Yankees.

Of the previous 21...

* Fourteen won a division title (no wild cards)

* Nine made the World Series

* Three won the World Series (the 1984 Tigers, 1986 Mets, and 1990 Reds)

Why Matt Garza won:

- Dominated with offspeed pitches: Royals hitters were 0-9 against non-heaters which continued Garza's season-long trend. The Tampa righty has held the opposition to a .116 mark (5-43) against non-fastballs so far in 2010. The Royals chase pct on the slower stuff was 54 (league avg 31).

- Got ahead early: 71 pct of his first pitches were strikes (league avg. 58).

- Put hitters away: 83 pct of his two-strike at-bats became outs (league avg. 72).

Why A.J. Burnett won:

- Threw his fastball for a strike on 73 percent of pitches (highest since September 2008, a span of 42 starts).

- Complemented the heater with his curveball, throwing 25 pitches and holding the Orioles to 1-5 on at-bats ending with the offspeed pitch.

- Only threw 15 pitches when behind in the count with hitters going 0-4. Burnett averaged 25.8 pitches from behind in the count coming into Thursday, allowing 9 hits in 22 at-bats.

- Made the most of pitches up in the zone despite throwing fewer pitches there. Burnett threw 25 pitches up, allowing no hits in 7 at-bats, the first start this season in which that happened.

- Against Burnett, the Orioles 2-5 hitters (Markakis, Wieters, Tejada, Scott) were 0-10 with 3 K. Before tonight, 2-5 hitters facing Burnett this season were 14-42 (.333).

- No extra base hits allowed (Averaging 2 per game in previous 4 starts).