With the month of May winding down, the Toronto Blue Jays are baseball’s hottest team.
The Jays have gone 20-8 so far this month, and have just had their nine-game win streak snapped by the Kansas City Royals. Over their streak they had swept the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox, the high scoring Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Jays have simply dominated their opposition this month and are near the top of nearly every offensive category. The Jays have an average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage slash line of .2778/.341/.494 for an OPS (on-base + slugging) of .835. They are third in average and on-base and first in slugging. They are leading the league in hits with 263, second in doubles with 56, and first in home runs and runs batted in with 47 and 142 respectively. The Jays are also fifth with 18 stolen bases.
Edwin Encarnacion has hit .280 with 16 HR and 33 RBI so far this month, breaking the franchise record and tying Mickey Mantle’s American League record for home runs in a single month. The Jays have had contributions from every player on the team in one way or another in what has been a month to remember for their fans. It has been a long while since fans have been so optimistic at this point in the season. An interesting fact from the series against the Athletics last weekend: The last time the Jays and A’s were both first place in their respective divisions and met at this point was in 1993, the second year of the Jays back-to-back World Series Championships.
A huge reason for their success has been due to the quality of the pitchers this month. Blue Jays pitchers have had an impressive month with a 3.69 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 241.2 innings. It has been a welcome improvement from the numbers put up in April when they were just 12-14 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Even with the vast improvement, the Blue Jays have won many games solely on the strength of their offense, but have gotten more support from the starters than from the bullpen.
Since Casey Janssen’s return from the disabled list to the closer’s role, he is eight-for-nine in save opportunities and has provided much needed stability at the back end. Dustin McGowan was moved to the bullpen and provides the Jays with a long relief option. Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil are also rounding into the form that made them All-Stars last season, and Aaron Loup has been solid.
Everyone knows that winning streaks all come to an end eventually, but for the Blue Jays and their fans this streak was exciting and brought hope for a return to postseason baseball for the first time since 1993.