The (first-place!) Toronto Blue Jays (26-22) hammered the Boston Red Sox 7-2 to complete a three-game sweep, and finish their road trip 5-1.
There is so much awesome about today’s game, and this entire trip, that I don’t even know where to start. I feel like a dog meeting a large group of people. I want to run over here, and then over there, and jump up and down, and wag my tail. So imagine that while you read the rest of this post.
Let’s start with Mark Buehrle. The first inning looked a little shaky. He didn’t have the pinpoint control we’re accustomed to, but nearly got out of the frame unscathed. He gave up a two-strike single to Johnny Gomes that cashed Dustin Pedroia. But luckily, the Jays had spotted him two runs in the first. His only bad start of the season was against the Red Sox at the Dome in late April, and it looked like this one could have gone sideways too. But he settled in (a six-run lead will do that), and picked up his league-leading 8th win of the season. Seven solid innings, allowing seven hits, ZERO walks, and five strikeouts. Eight wins on May 22. That’s incredible.
Speaking of May 22. Exactly two years ago today, the Blue Jays lost to the Rays, and fell to four games above .500. With the victory today, they are back to that plateau for the first time since. That’s pretty poetic.
They are guaranteed to be in first place when they open their 10-game homestand against Oakland tomorrow night. They can have sole possession if the Yankees lose to the White Sox this evening. I know it’s QUITE early to be scoreboard-watching and standings-talking. I was chirping a Red Sox fan friend last night, and he said “It’s May. Talk to me in September.” As the Jays found out last year, you’re not in the conversation in September if you don’t win in May. So win as many as you can early, and keep it going throughout the year.
The 5-1 road trip gives them a 16-11 mark as visitors this season. Only the Athletics have more road victories (18) in the ENTIRE LEAGUE. Remember when this team couldn’t win on the road? It was nice to see them finally sweep a team, too. This was the fourth time they had a chance to sweep a three-game set, but the first time they’d gotten the job done. They need to improve that 10-11 home mark, however. It won’t be easy with those pesky A’s coming to town, followed by the always-thorn-in-the-side Rays. But this is an incredible opportunity to create some separation in that incredibly tight AL East race. As Gregg Zaun mentioned after the game, even if they get swept by the A’s (which would make me cry), they will still be above .500 after that series.
One final note on looking forward: I think we’re going to see a lot of Erik Kratz and Steve Tolleson over the weekend, and probably not much of Adam Lind and Johnny McFrank. Oakland is throwing lefties on Friday and Sunday, and the Rays send out Canadian lefty Erik Bedard on Monday. Both Lind and Francisco have struggled against lefties. Kratz is hitting .263/.300/.737 with three home runs against southpaws this season. Tolleson and Kevin Pillar had a combined five hits against left-handers today.
And what else can be said about this offense that hasn’t been said already. The “#BashHermanos”, as Asher appropriately dubbed them yesterday, were at it again. I guess this can apply to any of the Latin American players on the team, and today it was Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista with back-to-back Monster shots in the first inning. Jose Reyes had a clutch 2-RBI single in the second. Bautista finished with three hits. Encarnacion had two hits, both of which stayed in the park, and made two fantastic defensive plays. The two home runs today give the Jays a league-leading 67 dingers. More importantly today, they pounded Lester for 5 runs in the second inning, capitalizing while he was shaky. Lester settled into a groove shortly after that, and without taking advantage of his mistakes early, this is a different ballgame.
One more pitching note: since joining the bullpen, Dustin McGowan – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K. !ExtremelySmallSampleSizeAlert! Looks like the move to shorten his outings is paying off. (Esmil Rogers should take note of how he pitched with a five-run lead today).
For being good, and making it all the way through, you get two bonus points today. The first, in relation to J.P. Arencibia being outrighted off the Texas Rangers’ 40-man roster today:
Bonus point number two, inspired by Asher’s screen cap on the Twitter feed last night. Separated at birth: on the left, friend of the blog Gabe DeSantis, the frontman and guitarist for Toronto-based folk band Whitebrow. On the right, Jays started Drew Hutchison.
(On the subject of Whitebrow, you should check out their stuff here.)
So once again: Jays are in first place! Jays swept the Red Sox! Everything is happening! Gotta keep the good times rolling tomorrow night.
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After the game, Liam Hendricks was recalled from AAA Buffalo. He’ll start tomorrow against Oakland, with R.A. Dickey being bumped to Saturday. In nine games with the Bisons (7 starts), Hendricks is 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP and THREE walks in 48.2 innings. Sounds good to me. A corresponding roster move will be announced tomorrow. (Please let it by Esmil Rogers DFA).