Blue Jays get a couple of monkeys off their backs on Saturday

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 14: Hyun Jin Ryu #99 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Tropicana Field on May 14, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 14: Hyun Jin Ryu #99 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Tropicana Field on May 14, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays picked up a badly needed win on Saturday to snap their five-game losing streak, and they got some monkeys off their backs in the process.

To begin with, it was a very encouraging outing for Hyun Jin Ryu in his first turn back since being on the Injured List. Ryu hadn’t pitched well to start the season, and seeing him largely in control on Saturday was a very welcome image. He didn’t go very deep into the game, but he left after 4.2 innings while giving up just one earned one on four hits and a walk. Hopefully that’s exactly what the former ace needed to get his season back on track, and it certainly looked like a positive building block.

Secondly, the Blue Jays finally scored some runs late in the game, and by hitting with runners in scoring position. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. delivered with a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning, and he entered the game hitting just .120 with runners in scoring position. They also received immediate dividends upon Danny Jansen’s return to the lineup, as he swung the bat well on the evening and chipped in with a two-run shot in the eighth to push the lead to 5-1.

As great as those two moments were, the highlight of the inning for me was seeing Teoscar Hernandez hit a big home run to centre field. The amiable outfielder clearly felt like it was a no-doubt blast when it came off his bat, but it just snuck over the centre field wall. Regardless, it was great to see Hernandez absolutely punish a ball like that, and to see him smiling and laughing with teammates in the dugout afterward. It felt like the icebreaker that he needed since returning from the Injured List and trying to get his timing back, and it even more significantly, it finally looked like the Blue Jays were having fun and feeling a little bit more confident at the plate.

Despite having what should be a very talented lineup on paper, the Blue Jays have really struggled to score runs lately, and it’s been the biggest reason for their recent five-game losing skid. It was pretty crucial for them to pick up at least one win this weekend, and it wasn’t going to be easy to do while playing the Rays and dealing with the dreaded “Trop” at the same time.

As for getting monkeys off their back, it kinda feels that way any time they pick up a win on the road while in Tampa Bay, as it’s truly one of the most difficult places to play. I’ll save my personal feelings on the Trop for another day, but it really hasn’t been kind to the Blue Jays in recent years, and seeing them pick up a big win on Saturday was an even bigger deal than usual.

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Hopefully the four-run eighth inning was exactly what the Blue Jays needed to get back to doing what they do best.