(The Sports Xchange) - A clear plastic bag filled with hats sat near the locker of Edwin Encarnacion in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse after their 15-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.
The hats were thrown on the field by Blue Jays fans -- the traditional hockey tribute when a player scores three goals -- after Encarnacion hit his third home run of the game and third grand slam of the season in the seventh inning.
The three home runs gave him nine RBIs, equaling the club record set in 1977 by third baseman Roy Howell against the New York Yankees. He also extended his hitting streak to 24 games -- the longest active streak in the majors.
Encarnacion admitted he did not know what the hat throwing meant until reserve catcher Dioner Navarro explained it.
“Navarro told me after they threw all the hats to the field, he told me when they score three goals, I think they do that,” Encarnacion said.
“It made me feel happy. I‘m maybe going to sign them and give them back to their owners for appreciation for throwing them on the field.”
When he came to bat against right-hander Alex Wilson, the designated hitter said he was not thinking about belting a third home run.
“I was never thinking about that, I was just thinking about taking a good AB (at-bat) and looking for my pitch,” Encarnacion said. “It was a fastball, outside. It’s right on the middle, good swing.”
Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison (13-2) allowed six hits and one run while striking out seven over seven innings to earn his fifth straight victory.
“The fans throwing the hats on the field was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” Hutchison said. “That was unbelievable. That was just fun to be a part of.”
The win ensured the Blue Jays (73-56) maintained a 1 1/2-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the American League East.
Catcher Russell Martin also homered for Toronto and left fielder Ben Revere matched a career-high with four hits.
Second baseman Ryan Goins and third baseman Josh Donaldson each added three hits for the Blue Jays, who have won the first two contests of the three-game series.
Tigers right-hander Buck Farmer (0-3) allowed six runs (five earned), eight hits and two walks in four innings.
“This one sticks with you,” said Wilson, who entered in the seventh to face Encarnacion after left-hander Tom Gorzelanny loaded the bases.
“Any time the game goes the way it did today and you just get beat in every aspect of the game. That one, it hurts.”
Compiled by John O'Brien