Brett Lawrie is back with the Blue Jays, and with him comes a critical period in which the club is either going to make a push for the post-season or fade from the 2013 playoff picture.

Lawrie returned to the Jays from a fractured ankle he suffered May 27, and for the record, he went an uninspired 0-for-4 in the Jays’ 7-3 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Sunday.

Before the game, though, manager John Gibbons felt Lawrie’s return could act as a “shot in the arm” for his club, which is languishing in last place in the tough AL East but is still capable — at least in the minds of management and the faithful — of a wild-card charge.

“We all know what kind of a player he is, so maybe he can give us that shot in the arm,” Gibbons said. “We’re in the cellar so who knows, maybe this is the key to get us going.”

Indeed, Lawrie’s return puts the Jays at full strength for the first time all season — every star player aside from Brandon Morrow is here — and the timing is perfect.

With a win Sunday in their final game before the all-star break, the Jays can earn a split of this six-game road trip that had, until Saturday, threatened to be an offensive bust.

The team opens a 10-game homestand after the break, and that stretch should provide a good indication of whether the Jays can salvage a wild-card berth from a disappointing season.

Lawrie started Saturday’s game at second base and the hope is that he can bring some offence to a position that has seen scant production so far.

Lawrie, though, doesn’t consider himself a “saviour,” and he’s right; the real saviour is Edwin Encarnacion, who launched a two-run homer in the first inning to spark a much-needed win for Toronto.
Encarnacion’s blast was his 25th of the season, good for third place in the AL. He’s also one of the club’s most dependable players; Jose Bautista is still the face of the franchise, but he was in a 2-for-27 slump before lacing a run-scoring double in the Jays’ three-run seventh.