What is better than nine wins in a row? Well, I'd say nine wins in a row which include series sweeps of both the Boston Red Sox and that pesky team from Tampa Bay that always seems to have Toronto's number would be better.
The Jays swept Tampa for the first time since August 6 - 9 2010.
When I sat down to write this, I started to recap the series in Tampa game by game. But you all know where to find the box scores and have all either watched the games, seen the highlights, or read the box scores. So let me just touch on some real positive signs from this series.
First and foremost: This team is never out of it. When I had the chance to talk Blue Jays with Eric Rosenhek of Definitely Not Jays Talk a few weeks ago, he asked me what were some positive things I liked about this team. I told him that I really liked that this team never seems to be out of ball games. Their offense this year is that good. In fact, it is reminiscent of the 1993 team that was also never out of the game, some days despite their pitching. The first two games against Tampa was another testament to that. On Monday the Jays put up ten runs on sixteen hits and on Tuesday another nine runs on thirteen hits, with six home runs over those two games. The Jays are a very exciting offensive team to watch. Even in times when they are trailing late in the game, we all stay glued to our screens because we know that on any given night in any inning, this team can come back and still win the game. Even if its a bunt and an over throw that get the job done.
Second: Edwin Encarnacion is an absolute monster right now. He now has 14 home runs in the month of May and in his last twelve games, he's batting .340 with two doubles, 10 homers and 15 RBIs. After a slow start that had people worried (which it shouldn't have, traditionally he starts slowly. In fact, a few seasons ago it was this day, May 29, that he hit his first homer of the year) he has really come into his own this month. Like him or not, Edwin is a lot of fun to watch right now. If you do like him, then hurry up and get voting to get this guy into the MLB All-Star game. He is not even close to a start at either first base or DH. He needs your votes.
One last thing: Liam Hendricks. Two starts and two solid outings from this young man thus far. I know last night the twitter feed was abuzz with folks saying that he wasn't fooling anybody. Well that may have been the case, but even if it was he once again got the job done. Through his two starts he is 1 and 0 with a 2.31 ERA and a 0.771 WHIP with 8 K's and 3 walks over 11 and 2/3 innings. I will still stand here and tell you that this team NEEDS more starting pitching to continue to threaten down the stretch. But any time you can get performances like this from guys like Hendricks it is a huge boost for this club. They are going to need outings like this from him and probably other guys down on the farm to make it to October baseball this fall.
The Jays will try to match last seasons ten game winning streak when KC comes into Toronto for a four game series over the weekend. R.A. Dickey and James Shields tonight. Should be a fun one!
I will be watching, or at least paying attention once again from Arizona.
James Shields is 6 and 1 against Toronto over the last three seasons and has been very tough for some of the Blue Jays better hitters. Melky Cabrera is just 5 for 27 lifetime against Shields. Jose Reyes is 2 for 10 and Edwin Encarnacion just 6 for 29. Jose Bautista may be the man to watch tonight. He is 9 for 29 with 4 HR vs Shields over his career. Hopefully his success continues and contributes to another Toronto win.