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Goins finds redemption with ‘perfect game’ for Blue Jays

Sportsnet | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2015


TORONTO — You mess up. You stand up. You do the right thing and then you find yourself in the middle of a very public drama involving one of your team’s star players, at a time when all the eyes of the game are on you.

Ryan Goins found redemption Monday night at Rogers Centre, blessed by one of the few sops offered you by this frustrating, failure-filled game. Blessed by tomorrow; blessed by the next game.

“Ryan’s probably my best friend on the team,” Kevin Pillar said following theToronto Blue Jays‘ 11-8 win over the Kansas City Royals. “He’s been with me a lot in the minors. We came up together. And that play … that’s not how he was going to go down. That’s not how he was going to be remembered.”

No, it won’t be. Two tomorrows after Goins took the blame for a bloop single into right field that fell in front of Jose Bautista and started a Royals resurgence in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, the Blue Jays second baseman cobbled together a 2-for-4 performance with a pair of runs scored, a home run and three RBIs. That’s at the plate. In the field, he made three putouts and had eight assists, one of them to start the seventh inning when he slid to his right, whirled and jumped to his feet to throw out the speedy Lorenzo Cain. As the Royals would show with their ninth-inning rally, any ground ball is a potential game-changer.

The Blue Jays have written their offensive story for most of the season with the middle of their order, but Pillar and Goins emerged as a useful bottom of the order as the season went on. “We’re two guys used to being at the top of the order in the minors,” Pillar said Monday, reiterating a statement he’s made often.

Pillar also scored two runs and had a run-scoring double and it was his head-first, left-hand swipe of home plate that brought in the second run on Goins’ double. Television replays appeared to show Johnny Cueto, the Royals starter, raising his knee on the play. Pillar, who has hit safely in 25 of his last 26 games and is hitting .376 over that time, said he was going to take a look at the videotape before commenting.

It was quite a night for the bottom of the order, with Pillar signalling their intentions in the first inning when he crashed into the centre-field wall making a catch off a Cain liner. Pillar also stole second base uncontested just ahead of Goins’ double; indeed, you can make the case that it was the Blue Jays’ eighth and ninth hitters that really put the screws to Cueto.

Pillar was terse in his defence of Goins’ play in Game 2, which resulted in Bautista and Joe Magrane of the MLB Network getting into a back and forth on social media. Never mind that there were plenty of former players who believed Bautista had to make the catch in Game 2 — even more thought he missed an opportunity to stand up for a teammate. Pillar wouldn’t go down that road after Monday’s game, but he did take a shot at “people outside the clubhouse,” who implied that Goins’ mistake cost the team Game 2. “He didn’t deserve that … not from where he started from,” Pillar said.

Goins’ glove has been major-league ready for a couple of seasons. It was his bat that lagged and even now there are people in the organization who will tell you he is destined for utility duty. At least the Blue Jays can see a role for him; two years ago, that wasn’t certain. He is easy to lose in this clubhouse of big personalities and big numbers, because he doesn’t have an ounce of self-promotion in him. (Asked about the at-bat that resulted in the double, he said: “Got down 0-2. And then it was a battle.”)

Bautista took Goins shopping for a Canada Goose winter jacket on Monday. “A makeup gift,” Goins said. “I know he (Jose) has my back every day. I don’t read anything from the outside sources. He came up to me on the plane and told me he had my back, and we moved past it, and that’s what we did today.”

Goins’ manager, John Gibbons, said that his second baseman “has been carrying that load around a little bit. But he stepped up, really got us on the board with that great at-bat.

“It was,” Gibbons added, “the perfect game for him.”

And who knows what the next tomorrow holds?


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