That run has helped the Blue Jays climb to within 7 games of the first place Red Sox and 5 games of the American League Wild Card entering play on Saturday. There is still a long way to go, but this is incredible headway considering where the Blue Jays were.
So how does a team that couldn’t piece together a substantial win streak during the first two months of the season turn things around and go on a 9-game run in the middle of June.
Like any other streak, it is born of luck, hard work, and consistency. It takes a team effort, but it occasionally requires a player to step up and take the bull by the horns. And in the case of the Blue Jays, that torch has been carried by quite a few players.
Game 1 – June 11, 2013 – Blue Jays 7, White Sox 5
Every win streak needs a catalyst, and this one was started by the team’s star, Jose Bautista, turning the season around with one swing. Down a run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and White Sox closer Addison Reed on the mound, Bautista took an 1-2 slider deep for a solo home run, tying the game. The Blue Jays would score a pair of runs in the top of the tenth to seal the win, but it was Bautista’s blast that gave them a second life.
Game 2 – June 13, 2013 – Blue Jays 3, Rangers 1
With Rangers ace Yu Darvish on the mound, the Blue Jays faced a steep test in the series opener against Texas. They countered with reliever-turned-starter Esmil Rogers, the young righty didn’t disappoint. After giving up a second inning home run to Nelson Cruz, Rogers was lights out, surrendering just four more hits over the next five innings. That set up the stage for a late two-run double by Edwin Encarnacion to give the Jays the first game of the set.
Game 3 – June 14, 2013 – Blue Jays 8, Rangers 0
The bats broke out in a big way in the 8-0 thumping of the Rangers on June 14th, but this game ball goes to starter Mark Buehrle. The 34-year-old lefty battened down the hatches and held the Rangers to just four hits over seven innings of work, walking one and striking out seven in the process. The offense did the rest behind him, lead by home runs by J.P. Arencibia and Colby Rasmus.
Game 4 – June 15, 2013 – Blue Jays 6, Rangers 1
If there was one ongoing theme in the Rangers series, it was the domination of the starting pitching. This time it was R.A. Dickey‘s turn to turn some magic, but in a more unconventional way. Dickey was knocked around a bit throughout the game, but held the Rangers to just 1 run over 5-2/3rd innings pitched on the back of Texas hitting just 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and leaving 11 men on base. Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus provided the rest, with a 2-run home run each.
Game 5 – June 16, 2013 – Blue Jays 7, Rangers 2
They say everything is bigger in Texas, so why not complete the four-game sweep while they were there. Again, Rasmus and Arencibia took the Rangers yard in this contest, and Adam Lind plated another three runs. However, it was the pitching again that held the strong Rangers line-up in check. Chien-Ming Wang was solid over seven innings, allowing seven hits and two walks while striking out five.
Game 6 – June 17, 2013 – Blue Jays 2, Rockies 0
This was a game that looked like it was going to go against the Blue Jays, with Jorge De La Rosa spinning a no-hitter into the sixth inning. However, Blue Jays starter Josh Johnson was matching him pitch for pitch, striking out ten and keeping the Rockies scoreless through 7-1/3rd. Then it was the Maicer Izturis show, with the Jays shortstop making defensively magical plays all night, breaking up the no-hitter in the sixth with a single, and then blooping a single in the bottom of the eighth to plate the only two runs of the game.
Game 7 – June 18, 2013 – Blue Jays 8, Rockies 3
For the second game of the series, the Blue Jays again turned to Esmil Rogers to be the man, and he responded in kind. After the Blue Jays doubled down on the Rockies for four runs in the first, Rogers spun six shutout innings before finally surrendering three runs (two earned) in the seventh. By that point, it was already 8-3, well out of reach for the Rockies. Encarnacion, Arencibia, and Izturis all went deep to pad the lead and secure the win.
Game 8 – June 19, 2013 – Blue Jays 5, Rockies 2
Another June start, another decent outing for Mark Buehrle, who tossed five innings of 2-run ball for the win. The bullpen came in and did a masterful job of holding down the fort over the last four innings. However, it was Toronto’s resident hot stick, Adam Lind, that got things started, hitting a three-run home run in the first innng. The Blue Jays would never look back.
Game 9 – June 21, 2013 – Blue Jays 7, Orioles 6
In what has been uncharacteristic of this streak, the starting pitching struggled in this outing, with R.A. Dickey once again getting roughed up by the Orioles big bats. In a game that saw six home runs hit between the two teams, including Chris Davis‘s league-leading 27th bomb and Edwin Encarnacion’s team-leading 20th, it was once home run that truly stood out. With Toronto down a run in the bottom of the seventh, light-hitting shortstop Munenori Kawasaki turned on a 1-1 cutter from Tommy Hunter for his first career home run, tying the ball game. Rajai Davis would plate the winning run with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, but it was Kawasaki that was the hero of this contest.
With a 1:07pm start time for game two versus the Orioles, the Blue Jays will send Chien-Ming Wang to the hill against Miguel Gonzalez. But who will be the hero of today’s contest and help push the Blue Jays to their 10th straight victory?