By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
TORONTO — It wasn’t that long ago when the Blue Jays’ season seemed dangerously close to going off the rails. But what a difference a couple of weeks can make.
All of a sudden, Toronto finds itself in the thick of the American League East race. The long road back to respectability has come to an end, but the next step in the journey is only just beginning.
The Blue Jays continued their dramatic turnaround after tying a franchise record by winning their 11th consecutive game with a 13-5 victory over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
“It was a battle early on, we all know that,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of his team’s season. “We always figured it was just a matter of time before we started playing better — and it lasted longer than we expected, but that’s all behind us now.
“We’re just rolling along, right now. This one is behind us, now go play [on Monday] in Tampa [Bay] in a tough ballpark to play with a good team. But we’re playing better.”
This type of streak is something that has been rarely seen in the city of Toronto. It’s just the third time in franchise history the club has won 11 in a row, after previously doing it in 1987 and 1998.
The 11-game mark is the longest streak in the Majors since Detroit won 12 in a row back in 2011. It’s also the main reason the Blue Jays have been able to jump back into the AL East race in such rapid fashion. The club was 12 games behind Boston on June 10, but after Sunday’s win the deficit has been cut to five.
Perhaps just as remarkable is that on June 4 the Blue Jays were 10 games under .500, with no end in sight to their struggles. Since that time, the club has won 14 of its past 16 games — and along the way became the first team since Cleveland in 1979 to ride a 10-game streak past the .500 mark.
“I’ve been waiting for this since the season started,” said Edwin Encarnacion, who was a triple shy of the cycle on Sunday while adding three hits and four RBIs.
“I believe in this team, so I knew things had to change, things had to turn around for us. This is what’s happening for us, and we’re going to enjoy the moment. I’m not surprised by this, I know this team is good and I know we can do it.”
Most of that success can be credited to a revitalized pitching staff. The Blue Jays have allowed two runs or fewer in nine of their past 11 games, dating back to June 13. The starters posted a 2.25 ERA over that span, while the bullpen recently went through a stretch of 27 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
READ COMPLETE STORY:
- Edwin Encarnacion leads Blue Jays rout of Orioles (gantdaily.com)
- Johnson earns first W as Jays sweep to push win streak to 11 (cbssports.com)