The sample size is thin but the Toronto Blue Jays cannot help but think that their play over the last week or so is indicative of a team that will be able to rattle some chains in the American League East before the season’s end.
Their starting pitching is slowly starting to come around with old dependable, Mark Buehrle, providing the latest solid showing in a 10-0 whitewashing of the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
Buehrle, going up against fellow lefty Cliff Lee, became the first six-game winner in the A.L., throwing his usual repertoire of slow and slower to restrict the Phillies to just three hits and zero runs over seven innings of work to help lead Toronto to it’s fourth straight win.
And although the offence was late in arriving at the party – Toronto did not break out until a nine-run seventh inning – the productivity has definitely been on the rise.
Over the last nine games, in which Toronto has gone 5-4, the Blue Jay hitters have been averaging a hefty 5.8 runs per game.
With three more home runs in Tuesday’s game (Erik Kratz, Edwin Encarnacion, Juan Francisco), the Blue Jays have now recorded round-trippers in seven straight games and in 14 of their last 15.
Their 44 homers on the season is tops in the A.L.
“I think we all know what this offence can do once they get on a roll,” Buehrle said. “If they keep this up I think our pitching will be better than what we’ve showed. If we can get everything together and get on a little roll I think we’ll be alright.”
The Blue Jays will send R.A. Dickey to the mound Thursday to try and make it five in a row, and four-straight over Philadelphia, and will face ex-Toronto hand A.J. Burnett.
With closer Casey Janssen set to return to the Toronto lineup this weekend, the Blue Jays will have some decisions to make about their roster.
The Blue Jays have been carrying eight in the bullpen, one more than normal, as a necessity after their starting rotation repeatedly failed to pitch deep into games.
But with the starting rotation having sorted things out to an extent over the last week or so, Gibbons said the team is thinking about going back to seven in the bullpen that would provide him with the luxury of an added bat on the bench.
“That could be the way it turns out,” Gibbons said. “Janssen, hopefully he’ll be back this weekend and of course we’ll have to make a move there. But that’s a way to do it [seven-man bullpen], that’s the way our team’s strongest. And hopefully it gets to that point.
“The rotation’s on a nice little roll now. They’re pitching good.”