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LONGLEY

Hernandez taking full advantage of time with Blue Jays

By Rob Longley, Toronto Sun

 Toronto Blue Jays' Teoscar Hernandez, left, Ezequiel Carrera and Kevin Pillar celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox 6-4 during a baseball game in Boston on Sept. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Toronto Blue Jays' Teoscar Hernandez, left, Ezequiel Carrera and Kevin Pillar celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox 6-4 during a baseball game in Boston on Sept. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON — Of the growing number of things to like about the late-season surge of Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, near the top is the fact that he appears to be taking advantage of his opportunity.

And now we’ll see if the young Jay runs with it all the way to a roster spot for 2018 where there promises to be some openings in the Toronto outfield.

Hernandez flashed some more power on Monday at Fenway Park with a two-RBI double off the Green Monster in the second inning. It was a nice accompaniment to another bounty at the plate for teammate Josh Donaldson and as Hernandez continues to grow in confidence, it’s difficult for those around him not to notice.

“In this game, you only get so many opportunities,” Jays manager John Gibbons said prior to the Jays’ 6-4 win to open a three-game series with the AL East-leading Red Sox. “He’s at that point (age 24.) Time for him to make it. Be a big-league player.”

While careful not to read too much into the performance of a September call-up on a team going nowhere, Hernandez has been impressive.

On Sunday at the Rogers Centre, he hit a leadoff home run, his third round-tripper in as many games, and his fifth of the season.

His double on Monday gave him 14 RBI, four more than any previous September call-up in Jays history. It also kept the inning alive for red-hot Donaldson to bang in two more with a double of his own.

“The more chances that you get, the more confidence you get,” said Hernandez, who has seen 11 of his past 18 hits go for extra bases. “Everything that you’re doing … your swing works better. When you get the chance to play every day it makes you (feel) really important to the team. It makes your confidence go up. You not get scared to do the things you’re supposed to do.”

The Jays would need all of that big second inning, which gave them a 5-1 lead. The Red Sox gradually chipped away at it, creating a one-run game headed into the ninth.

Gibbons feels Hernandez is thriving now that he’s settled into the big-league routine as a September call-up. After he was dealt to the Jays in August in the swap that sent pitcher Francisco Liriano to Houston, he spent the first month with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

“It’s never easy going into a new environment,” Gibbons said. “Really, like any young newcomer to the team, you want to make things work. Now he’s just settled in, feels part of the team and he’s having some great results.

“I’ll tell you what, he’s showing me a lot, I know that.”

GAME ON

The big season finish for Donaldson had a couple more moments on Monday with a towering solo homer in the first to get the Jays off and running. It was Donaldson’s 31st of the season and his 14th in the first inning, part of a three-hit night. “I think what happened is that he’s healthy now,” Gibbons said of Donaldson, who hit the three RBI mark for the ninth time this season … The dinger was Donaldson’s 22nd since the all-star break, tops in the AL … The Jays roughed up Sox starter Drew Pomeranz, he of the 16 wins and 3.15 ERA prior to Monday. By the time they were done, Pomeranz had given up seven hits and five runs in just two innings of work and an ERA up to 3.38. It didn’t sit well with the lefty, who started tossing stuff in the dugout after getting the hook … Toronto starter Brett Anderson fared better than his most recent ugly outing, allowing six hits in five innings with three earned runs. Anderson would have gone deeper, but the blister issues that bit him two starts ago returned … The Jays got some welcome insurance in the top of the ninth when Ryan Goins hit a solo home run, his ninth of the season, to make the score 6-4 … Roberto Osuna came in for a 1-2-3 ninth and Save No. 38 on … The Jays seem determined to exit the season on a high note — improving to 10-6 in their past 16.

HOLD THE BUBBLY

As one scribe put it, the Jays could be the “bringers of champagne” — cause for as many as three champagne parties over their final week and change of the season.

The Yankees had the first pop at it on Saturday in Toronto when they clinched a wildcard spot at the Rogers Centre. The Red Sox have a chance to clinch the AL East division title at some point in this three-game series.

And on the weekend in the Bronx, the Yankees have a shot at clinching home-field advantage for a wildcard date, likely against the Twins.

NO WAY, JOSE

Though most of 2017 has been forgettable for Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, he did flash some of the feistiness that has defined his career, ultimately earning an eighth-inning ejection.

Clearly livid at a called third strike, his second strikeout of the game. Bautista rather aggressively got in the face of home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild.

Bautista got tossed and might have done even more damage if Gibbons hadn’t rushed from the dugout to get in the middle of things.

It was Bautista’s first ejection of the season.

QUICK HIT

Prior to the series, Boston manager John Farrell talked about how his team is suited to its beloved sandbox of a home.

“We love Fenway Park,” Farrell said. “Our team is built for that ballpark.”

Since 2008, no visiting team has hit more at Fenway than the Jays (110 in 91 games). The Yanks are second with 103 in 90, followed by another AL East team, the Tampa Bay Rays with 93 in 93.

rlongley@postmedia.com