TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' recipe for success this year has been pretty simple: Score at least five runs, and it has led to a victory every single time.Toronto improved to 18-0 when scoring at least five runs, with the latest outburst coming in a 12-1 victory over the Mets
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' recipe for success this year has been pretty simple: Score at least five runs, and it has led to a victory every single time.
Toronto improved to 18-0 when scoring at least five runs, with the latest outburst coming in a 12-1 victory over the Mets on Wednesday at Citi Field. Compare that with a 4-21 record when scoring four runs or fewer and it becomes pretty clear what Toronto needs to do in order to compete.
Justin Smoak went 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and three RBIs. Teoscar Hernandez also homered and drove in three, while Richard Urena clubbed a late three-run homer and Curtis Granderson chipped in with a pair of hits against his former team. The Blue Jays scored at least five for just the fourth time over their last 14 games, with a record that now sits at 5-9 over that span.
"One thing we can do is hit," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It has been a little dry lately, but we can strike pretty quick. It shows you, too, that when we hit home runs, we usually do pretty good. To be undefeated, maybe that's a little bit surprising, but hey, when we score, we win."
The win was Toronto's first victory on the road vs. the Mets in franchise history after the club lost its previous 12 games.
Gibbons has spent a lot of time in recent days talking about the need for some of his players to snap out of their slumps. Toronto had the top offense in the Majors for the majority of April, but the club entered play on Wednesday with 200 runs, which was only good enough for sixth-most in the American League.
The manager asked for it, and in the series finale against the Mets, he finally got it. Smoak had his first multi-hit game since April 27, Granderson had multiple hits for the first time since April 24, and Hernandez drove in three runs for the first time since April 20. Toronto scored at least 11 runs for the fifth time this season, and it was the club's highest total since Game 1 of a doubleheader in Cleveland on May 3.
Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler was charged with six runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out seven. He had allowed only one run and struck out six before both clubs had to weather an out-of-the-ordinary 18-minute rain delay in the third as the grounds crew worked to make the field playable due to a steady drizzle. The Blue Jays chased Wheeler from the game in the fifth inning and then proceeded to tack on three more runs off reliever AJ Ramos.
"It's interesting for us, because we didn't go into the season, 'Yeah, we're going to be the team that plays from behind and go,' it just kind of ended up being that situation for us," said Granderson, whose team has 13 come-from-behind victories this season.
"When you have a pitcher like J.A. Happ go out there and do what he's able to do, and knowing that we can potentially add some runs on at the end, I think it probably helps them out more because they're thinking, 'Wow, they did this before recently, they're probably going to get an opportunity to do it again, I've just got to keep them close,' and he did exactly that."
Happ was the underrated star of the game as he picked up his first scoreless outing since June 11 of last season at Seattle. He allowed just two hits while reaching double digits in strikeouts for the second time this season and the ninth time of his career. He also chipped in with a pair of hits and a walk at the plate, as he became the second visiting AL pitcher to record a two-hit game against the Mets. Carl Pavano also did it on June 26, 2010.
"We have to do our part, trying to put up zeros after we do score, and we've done a good job this season of scoring late, but it's nice when we can hold them and then get on the board ourselves," said Happ, who improved to 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA all-time vs. the Mets.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Starting strong: Smoak made sure the Blue Jays started off on the right foot with a solo home run in the top of the first inning off Wheeler. According to Statcast™, Smoak's sixth of the year was projected to travel 401 feet, and the ball left his bat at 106.9 mph. Smoak homered for just the second time this month, and the three RBIs were his most since Toronto's fourth game of the year, when he finished with six.
Putting them away: The Blue Jays carried a 3-0 lead into the top of the fifth inning, but then broke the game wide open with three more runs off Wheeler. The first five batters of the inning reached base to chase Wheeler from the game as Josh Donaldson delivered an RBI single and Smoak came through with a two-run double.
The added insurance runs allowed Happ to cruise through the rest of his outing, as the Blue Jays had a starting pitcher record an out in the seventh inning for just the sixth time this season and the first time over the club's last 13 games.
Happ became the first pitcher in franchise history to reach base three times in a game. Happ walked in the fifth and then singled during both the sixth and seventh innings to set the Blue Jays record. Happ also joined Roy Halladay and Andrew Hutchison as the only Toronto pitchers to record two hits in the same game.
Happ also became the first pitcher to out-hit or match his opponents' hit total while tossing at least seven innings since Clyde Wright on Sept. 14, 1972.
"It was just a fun game," Happ said. "It was fun being on the bases a little bit and scoring a couple of runs, and then pitching deeper into the ballgame, so you have to feel good about that one."
The Blue Jays will open a four-game series against the A's when right-hander Aaron Sanchez (2-3, 4.08) takes the mound on Thursday night at Rogers Centre, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 ET. Sanchez has allowed seven runs (four earned) over his last 8 2/3 innings, but before that, he went at least six innings in five straight starts and surrendered three runs or fewer in four of those five. Oakland will counter with right-hander Andrew Triggs (3-1, 5.31).
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.