Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Jays' clubhouse more upbeat than year ago

After struggling early in '17, Blue Jays won 5 of first 8 games in '18
Special to MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays won their fifth game of the season Friday night, improving their record to 5-3. That marks a much better start than last year, when they started 1-9. The team didn't notch its fifth win until the 18th game of the season.

For sure, there's a positive feel in the Blue Jays' clubhouse in the second week of the season. Manager John Gibbons, a native of San Antonio, fitted in a trip to the Alamo City on the team's off-day on Thursday. Before Friday's series opener, he was relaxed -- almost giddy -- and joking with the media prior to Friday's series opener.

View Full Game Coverage

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays won their fifth game of the season Friday night, improving their record to 5-3. That marks a much better start than last year, when they started 1-9. The team didn't notch its fifth win until the 18th game of the season.

For sure, there's a positive feel in the Blue Jays' clubhouse in the second week of the season. Manager John Gibbons, a native of San Antonio, fitted in a trip to the Alamo City on the team's off-day on Thursday. Before Friday's series opener, he was relaxed -- almost giddy -- and joking with the media prior to Friday's series opener.

View Full Game Coverage

One media member had noticed DH Kendrys Morales taking ground balls at third base and asked if Morales might really be a candidate to play the position. The question alone drew a round of laughter in the room.

"He was out there just in case," Gibbons replied. "He thinks he can do it. He's got the best arm on the team. If you don't believe me, just ask him."

Tweet from @BlueJays: Just having an epic dance party with @MStrooo6 & @Solarte26. How about you? pic.twitter.com/d5xcqKcONP

Friday's winning pitcher, Marco Estrada, also was upbeat.

"We're having a lot of fun here," said Estrada. "This year, we're really getting it together. We're hitting. We're pitching. We're fielding."

Russell Martin echoed that sentiment.

"I like the way we're playing right now," said Martin. "Pitchers are throwing strikes. We're having good at-bats. There's good energy on the field."

Gibbons is especially pleased with the at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"I like what I've seen so far," said Gibbons. "It's a good sign. We have a good group. If we get some consistency, we'll be fine."

Gibbons is also pleased with Yangervis Solarte, who homered and walked three times Friday night. Solarte started at shortstop on Friday night, is in Saturday's starting lineup at third base and is expected to start at second base on Sunday, with Gibbons doing anything he can to keep Solarte's bat in the lineup.

Video: TOR@TEX: Solarte rips 459-ft. jack, delivers bat flip

From bat flips to brawls, the Blue Jays and Rangers have a history, but Gibbons doesn't think the carryover from 2015 and '16 has much effect now.

"Whenever we play them, they're good ball games," Gibbons noted. "Bautista was a big part of that, and he's not here anymore. He wasn't well liked here [in Arlington]. There's no doubt about that. He was always kind of viewed as the bad guy anyway. I think he liked that. He didn't mind it anyway. But he did the damage. He backed it up."

Gibbons also noted that both the Rangers and Blue Jays are in a different position now, including both teams having down years last season. But it's the Blue Jays who have had the upper hand over the Rangers in recent years. Toronto has won the season series with Texas every year since 2013 and eliminated Texas from the playoffs in 2015 and 2016. The Jays' combined record in games with Texas since 2013, including the regular season and playoffs, is 29-13 entering Saturday.

Of note

• Estrada allowed five hits in six innings Friday. He has allowed five or fewer hits in 16 of his past 20 starts.

Dic Humphrey is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Toronto Blue Jays