I think it is safe to say that no one told the Toronto Blue Jays that the calendar has turned to June. After riding through May with a blistering 21-9 record, which included a 9-game win streak, the Blue Jays have gotten June off to a great start by winning 4 consecutive games.
That May success vaulted the once last-place Blue Jays from the basement to the penthouse. Entering play on Thursday, Toronto owns a healthy 4.5 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles and a 6-game lead over the third place New York Yankees. With a win today, the team would have some nice momentum going into a 6-game home stand.
To do that, the Jays will need to complete the sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Detroit, who themselves hold onto a first place position in the American League Central, have made things interesting on back to back nights for the Blue Jays, only to watch things fall apart in the late innings.
The Blue Jays would like to keep that trend going, and are sending J.A. Happ to the mound to face Justin Verlander. As could be expected, Happ has turned in mixed results as a starter for the Jays this season. He is coming off of back-to-back 7+ inning performances, throwing 7 shut-out frames against the Oakland Athletics on May 25th but was knocked around for 6 earned over 7.2 innings of work against the Kansas City Royals on May 30th.
He’ll be opposed by Justin Verlander, who has also been surprisingly inconsistent this season. He sports a 6-4 record, but an uncharacteristic 3.99 ERA and a 6-year high 3.5 BB/9 ratio, something the Blue Jays will surely test. He looked servicable during his last outing of the month, throwing 7.2 against the Mariners and surrendering 3 runs with 7 strike-outs. However, his month of May was abyssmal, with the former Cy Young winner posting a 5.54 ERA and a -0.474 WPA for the month.
Toronto Blue Jays Line-up:
Detroit Tigers Line-up:
Of note, Blue Jays slugger, and reigning American League Player of the Month, Edwin Encarnacion is receiving the day off after leaving last night’s contest with back tightness. Edwin is considered day-to-day with the injury and isn’t expected to miss much time. In his place, Adam Lind slides to first base while Erik Kratz takes over the DH duties.
Alright folks, let’s chat this game up and see if we can keep you entertained in the office today.