Thomas, Stairs power Jays past Rox
DH blasts 498th homer; first baseman goes 4-for-5
TORONTO -- It was a good day for the graybeards of Toronto's clubhouse. In one corner, veteran Matt Stairs was flanked by a group of reporters. Meanwhile, Frank Thomas sat at his locker, smiling as he listened from the opposite side of the room.
"He talks it up," joked Stairs, motioning in Thomas' direction. "But I'm still older than he is."
A mere three months separate the birthdays of Toronto's pair of 39-year-old sluggers. On Saturday, age didn't matter against Colorado, which saw Stairs and Thomas combine for eight of the Blue Jays' season-high 17 hits in an 11-6 victory at Rogers Centre.
"Frank and I, we have 78 years between us and we went 8-for-9," Stairs said with a grin. "So, it was a great day to be 39."
Stairs and Thomas each turned in four-hit performances -- a feat that neither had accomplished in a handful of years. For Stairs, it marked the first time he tallied four hits since June 11, 2000, when he was with Oakland. Thomas collected a quartet of hits for the first time since May 20, 2004, when he suited up for the White Sox.
They each belted their 11th home run of the season in the first inning, when the Blue Jays (36-37) notched three runs to jump out to an early lead. Thomas' two-run blast, which came on a 1-2 pitch from Rockies starter Aaron Cook (4-5), was the 498th shot of his career, pulling him within two homers of becoming the 21st player to reach 500 home runs.
"Hitting is contagious," Thomas said. "The whole lineup is starting to swing the bat. I said it earlier in the year, if this team swings like it's capable, it's going to be fun to watch. We're just seeing everybody -- one through nine -- starting to feel good at the plate."
Stairs has provided an unexpected boost to the lineup, which has suffered from multiple injuries and slumps this season. The veteran of 15 seasons was signed as a bench player in the offseason, but became Toronto's primary first baseman when Lyle Overbay landed on the disabled list with a broken hand on June 3.
In the 17 games he's played since Overbay was sidelined, Stairs has hit .327 with four home runs and nine RBIs. Over his last five games, the native of New Brunswick has posted a .556 average with two long balls and five RBIs. Stairs is also currently tied for the Major League lead with seven homers in Interleague Play.
"It's good to have that type of guy sitting around on your bench who can swing like that," Thomas said. "Matt, the last couple years, hasn't been getting that many opportunities. The way we've been swinging the bats all year, he's found his way into he lineup and he's stayed. He's a dangerous hitter."
"I don't know where we'd be without him," Toronto manager John Gibbons said about Stairs. "[He's] been unbelievable this year. And you see Frank is starting to get going. A lot of things are going to happen when he's swinging the bat."
Thomas padded Toronto's early advantage with a two-run base hit in the third inning, giving him four RBIs during the game. Colorado (38-36) then rallied to tie the game against Toronto starter Ty Taubenheim, who gave up five runs on five hits in five-plus innings of a spot start for injured right-hander A.J. Burnett.
After his first-inning homer, Stairs added base hits in the third, fifth and sixth innings. A fielding error by Colorado first baseman Jeff Baker opened the door for the game's decisive run for Toronto in the sixth, but Stairs' final single sailed to the warning track in right field to score John McDonald, adding an important insurance run.
Over the past two games, the Blue Jays have piled up 20 runs on 32 hits against the Rockies, who arrived in Toronto fresh off a three-game sweep of the Yankees. On Saturday, eight of the 10 Jays hitters to step to the plate tallied at least one hit -- the two exceptions being Vernon Wells and Jason Phillips.
"You look at the last two or three days and we've really been swinging the bats," Gibbons said. "That's been big. It gives you a little breathing room. That doesn't make it easy, but that's good to see.
"We've got to have that, but it's not going to be like that every night. It's good to see some guys get on a little roll."
Guys like Stairs and Thomas: the geezers of Toronto's clubhouse.
"We'll take it for the old guys today," Thomas said with a laugh.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.