PHOENIX -- When Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion homered in the ninth inning Monday at Chase Field, he not only provided his club a couple of insurance runs in a tight game, but he also entered rarified air alongside an elite group of sluggers in Toronto franchise history. The long ball, his 35th, helped Encarnacion join Carlos Delgado, Jose Bautista, Fred McGriff and Shawn Green as the only Blue Jays to hit as many as 35 home runs in consecutive seasons.
"It means a lot; I've been working hard always for a good thing like this," Encarnacion said. "As I've said before, when you retire, you want to be remembered in the game."
Across the Majors, Encarnacion and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera are the only two players to hit 35 homers in each of the last two years. With a little less than a month left in the regular season, only Texas' Adrian Beltre has a chance to join that brief list, but he needs seven more long balls to reach 35 in 2013.
"He's definitely one of the better ones in the league," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Encarnacion. "Eddie is not just a slugger, though; he goes up there with a plan. He's really a student of hitting. He spends a lot of time in the video room studying pitchers. He doesn't say a lot of things -- he stays to himself -- but he's really a student of hitting."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.