TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are off to one of their best starts in recent memory, and now they have a sweep to show for it.Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte homered, while Curtis Granderson added the ninth grand slam of his career as Toronto extended its winning streak to four
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are off to one of their best starts in recent memory, and now they have a sweep to show for it.
Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte homered, while Curtis Granderson added the ninth grand slam of his career as Toronto extended its winning streak to four games with a 15-5 victory over the Royals on Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays improved to 12-5 for just the sixth time in franchise history and picked up their first series sweep since July 24-27, 2017, vs. Oakland.
Toronto has not enjoyed this strong of a start to the year since 2009. The Blue Jays have yet to lose a series (5-0-1), and they already have as many wins this season as they did on May 7 of last year. The .785 (11-3) winning percentage they have this month is ahead of the highest total the Blue Jays have had for April, which was .696 (16-7) in 1992.
"We really swung the bats well this series, and I thought we pitched good enough, considering the long layoff that a lot of our guys had," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You try to win every game. We're playing good baseball. Bottom line, doing everything well and you want to ride that."
There are plenty of reasons behind the Blue Jays' fast start, but likely the most surprising thing has been the production of Toronto's offense. The lineup was supposed to be a weakness, but the Blue Jays are averaging 6.1 runs per game, which is ranked the third in the American League.
One key to Toronto's success has been timely hits, as the Blue Jays continue to lead the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position. The Blue Jays went 5-for-19 in those situations on Wednesday afternoon, and they are now batting .343 with RISP this season. That's ahead of Boston, which entered play Wednesday night with a .321 average in similar conditions.
"The ability for anybody to come up in a big situation," said Granderson, who delivered the final blow with his ninth-inning grand slam. "On the outside looking in, you go, 'Okay, if I can eliminate this guy from the lineup, we have a chance to beat them.' I'm not sure who that one guy is, because so many different guys have come up on different days and different occasions. Defensively, offensively, on the basepaths. That's a good thing."
Left-hander J.A. Happ picked up the victory for Toronto despite surrendering a couple of home runs of his own. Happ was charged with four runs on five hits and a pair of walks while striking out eight. He threw 63 of his 99 pitches for strikes, and he has now struck out at least eight batters in all but one of his four starts this season.
"I don't know what I expected, but it was fun to watch," Happ said. "We stayed on them again today, and that's how you win ballgames. It's tough to sweep anybody. To be able to do that, get some momentum after a few crazy days that we had, that's nice for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hernandez on a roll: Hernandez continues to make a strong case that he deserves to stick around when Kendrys Morales returns from the disabled list later this week. Hernandez delivered a two-run homer off Kennedy in the bottom of the third inning for his fourth extra-base hit in four games since being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. Hernandez doesn't have a guaranteed job, but as long as he continues to out-hit right fielder Randal Grichuk, there will be cause for regular playing time. Hernandez finished 4-for-6 with four RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
"Every time I get the chance, I'm trying to do my best," Hernandez said. "If it happens, it happens. I can't control that. But every time I get the chance, I try to do my best and try to do some damage to the other team." More >
The Maile Man: Toronto entered the bottom of the fifth inning with the game tied at 4 until Kansas City's Paulo Orlando dropped a fly ball in left field that allowed one run to score. Gibbons then decided to pinch-hit backup catcher Luke Maile for Mpho' Ngoepe with a pair of runners on base. Maile made his manager look like a genius by hitting an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Maile, who hit a walkoff single vs. the Royals on Tuesday night, has eight RBIs this season, one more than he had all of last year. Maile added a double in the seventh inning.
Kevin Pillar extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 3-for-5 day at the plate, which also included a pair of doubles and an RBI. Pillar has 50 hits over the past two Aprils, which is the third most in the Major Leagues during that span.
HE SAID IT
"I got pretty excited. I got too much, I think. That's what made me strike out. But I wanted it. I've never hit a cycle before, and I was looking for a pitch to drive to the outfield to get the double." -- Hernandez, who finished a double shy of the cycle, on his final at-bat in the ninth inning
The Blue Jays will head out on the road for a crucial four-game series against the Yankees, starting Thursday at 6:35 p.m. ET. Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (facing Carsten Sabathia) originally was scheduled to pitch on Monday, but he was pushed back several days following three consecutive Blue Jays games that were postponed because of poor weather. Sanchez allowed just one run over eight innings in his last start vs. Baltimore.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays
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