Smoak the unlikely catalyst as Blue Jays make baseball history

TORONTO — With one swing of the bat Tuesday, Justin Smoak made a little bit of history for himself, and a really big bit of history for his team. And he was by far the least likely Toronto Blue Jay to do it.

Let’s explain. It was the ninth inning and the Blue Jays were trailing the Boston Red Sox by one. Boston’s closer, Craig Kimbrel, had his first out of the frame when Smoak stepped to the plate and took three straight breaking balls outside the zone, working a 3-0 count.

Coming in, Smoak had never homered on a 3-0 pitch over his nine years in the majors. In fact, he’d barely swung the bat at all. He’d seen 269 pitches with a 3-0 count and offered at only 16 of them. Nearly 95 per cent of the time, he’d left his bat on his shoulder.

But when Kimbrel threw him the 270th 3-0 pitch of his career, Smoak figured he’d try something different. And here’s how it went:

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