ARLINGTON, Texas – By the time the Blue Jays leave town after Sunday's game, the Rangers will have seen enough of Anthony Gose.
His speed has created runs for Toronto and prevented runs for Texas in this series.
"He's really good," said outfield coach Tim Leiper. "He just covers a lot of ground. He's into the game. You watch him, too, he's hungry. He's come up here with something to prove."
In Friday night's 2-0 win, the Blue Jays were stifled by Rangers' ace Yu Darvish for seven innings. In the eighth, Erik Kratz surprised third baseman Adrian Beltre by laying down a leadoff bunt single. Gose followed with a drag bunt down the first base line, beating out a bang-bang play at the bag. One out later, Gose scored from first on a Melky Cabrera double, tearing around the bases.
In Saturday night's 4-2 win, with the game tied 1-1 in the seventh, Gose led off with an opposite field double. He stole third and with one out, scored on a Cabrera chopper to Beltre. Gose was going the moment he saw Cabrera's ball wasn't hit hard and Beltre, one of the game's best defensive third baseman, didn't attempt a play at the plate.
Mark Buehrle was the beneficiary of the run on Saturday but when asked about Gose's offence, he quickly changed the subject.
"I don't even want to talk about the scoring runs, I want to talk about the defence," said Buehrle. "He's been out there the last couple of days, balls have been hit and this isn't a knock against Colby (Rasmus) because he's pretty fast but there were some balls hit in the gap and you're like, 'Damn, that's a double' and then all of sudden, here comes Gose catching the ball."
Gose has made two standout catches this series, both on Friday night. He robbed Mitch Moreland of extra bases in the left-centerfield gap, crashing into the wall on the run as he hauled in the ball. He went into right-centerfield to take away at least a double, likely a triple, from speedster Leonys Martin.
"He made those look somewhat easy but off the bat, you don't think they're going to get caught," said Leiper.
Gose's speed is one reason he's an elite defender.
"There's plenty of guys with speed and obviously he's got above average speed for anybody," said Leiper. "It comes down to he gets the jumps. For guys who are slower and they definitely need the footwork to make up for their lack of speed, he's got both."
There's another reason, one his coach appreciates just as much: Gose has impressed Leiper with his interest in pre-game preparation. It's not always noticeable, unseen on TV and likely not a fan's focus while watching a game live, but Leiper notices the results pitch by pitch.
"It's subtle but, for me, I'm so one-dimensional now, I'm just focused on what he's doing and how he's moving and where these guys are," said Leiper. "To watch him take charge with the other two outfielders, too, it's impressive to watch. He's got a good feel for the position."
Pillar is Gose's Platoon Partner
Right-handed hitting Kevin Pillar will start in centrefield against left-handed pitchers during Colby Rasmus' absence with a hamstring injury. Anthony Gose, a left-handed bat, will start against right-handers.
Pillar's first big league experience, late last season, was a struggle. He feels better now, knowing his role is defined.
"I definitely think, knowing what your role is, whether it's platooning or playing everyday, but having some sort of conversation with the manager, and knowing what your role is going to be is comforting," said Pillar.
Pillar picked up his first two big league hits of 2014 in Saturday night's victory. He's 2-for-11 during his brief stint with Toronto. He was off to a great start at Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .305/.344/.461, which included an 18-game hitting streak.
The book on Pillar is off-speed, typically breaking sliders, down and away. He'll continue to be pitched that way, especially with two strikes, until he shows he can lay off.
"I think it's more mental than anything," said Pillar. "Mechanically, it's trying to simplify a little bit, letting the ball travel a little deeper before I make a decision to swing. My second at-bat last night, I fouled off a lot of pitches, letting the ball get deep and that's a testament to staying with my approach, letting the ball get a little deeper, allowing myself to see the pitch before I swing. I think last year, part of it was trying to do too much, trying to get hits, not really seeing the ball out of the hand and this year I promised myself I wouldn't try to get hits, I would try to get good pitches to hit, and that's allowed me to lay off pitches down and away."