Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 8/15/13
When Munenori Kawasaki returned to the Blue Jays’ clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon “the noise level rose” inside the team’s locker room manager John Gibbons said. The noise level also rose inside the Rogers Centre on Wednesday night as the lovable fan favourite drew ovations at every turn despite scarcely factoring in the game’s dramatic outcome — a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Boston Red Sox in the 10th inning. During Esmil Rogers’ post-game media scrum Kawasaki — ever the goofball — posed with a notepad amid the posse of reporters to ask Rogers what country he was from reference to a running inside joke between the two players in which Kawasaki challenges Rogers’ Dominican heritage because he can speak half-decent English. “C’mon Kawa” Rogers said breaking down in laughter. Before the game Adam Lind gleefully greeted Kawasaki as he entered the clubhouse: “Hey! Kawa!” “Lindo! Arigato” the 32-year-old Japanese infielder cheerily replied. And so once again Kawasaki’s uplifting presence added some life and some levity to what has otherwise been a dismal Jays season. He may not always add much on the field but his spirit is something the “whole stadium notices” said Brett Lawrie who drove in the game-winning run. “Obviously he brings some fire he’s got good energy and the boys love him.” The Jays win came much to the delight of the 31695 in attendance who continued to loudly boo ex-manager John Farrell at every opportunity. With speedy Rajai Davis at third and the Red Sox infield in Lawrie screeched a line drive off shortstop Stephen Drew’s glove to score the game-winning run. It was the second game in a row in which Farrell elected to intentionally walk the batter ahead of Lawrie to get to the hyperkinetic 23-year-old. On Tuesday it worked in Boston’s favour but on Wednesday Lawrie made his former skipper pay. Lawrie said the key this time was taking “a big deep breath” and calming himself down before the fateful pitch. “I was just trying to put the ball in play because I knew who was at third base.” The man at third was Davis who snapped an 0-for-17 slump by going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and electrified the home crowd on several occasions including a wild play in the third inning when he scampered around all four bases to score a Little League home run on an infield single thanks to a pair of throwing errors by the Red Sox. “Honestly I didn’t know where the ball was” Davis said. “I heard (third-base coach Luis Rivera) say ‘Go go go go.’ OK I’m gone.” Even still the loudest cheers were reserved for Kawasaki who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo after the Jays traded Emilio Bonifacio to Kansas City. Kawasaki started at second base on Wednesday and Gibbons said he will share second-bag duties with Maicer Izturis for the time being. Also called up from Buffalo was 24-year-old outfielder Kevin Pillar who didn’t try to hide his excitement as he stepped onto the Rogers Centre field for batting practice ahead of his big-league debut. “It’s a lot bigger than it looks on TV” he said unabashedly.
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