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Blue Jays made great strides in torrid May

TORONTO -- With May now in the rear-view mirror, it's too bad the Blue Jays don't have time to reflect on the month that was. Instead, they rung in June with a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Royals at Rogers Centre.

But the month of May ranked right up there with the best in club history, as the Blue Jays enjoyed a nine-game winning streak, put up their second-most wins ever in a given month, led the Majors in a slew of offensive categories, and even had one of their own tie the great Mickey Mantle for an American League home run record.

"It's been a huge month, 21 wins," said manager John Gibbons. "I think in 2008, we had 20, had the best record in baseball, and I got fired three weeks later. This has been a good run, but it means absolutely nothing in June."

Gibbons might be right, but that doesn't negate the fact that the Blue Jays' 21-9 record ranks second among the best months in club history. Nor does it take away the fact that Edwin Encarnacion's 16 May home runs matched Mantle's AL record for May, or that they led the Majors in wins, runs (165), hits (286), home runs (48), extra-base hits (115) and OPS (.831).

But May was also a grind for Toronto, which had only one off-day and on Sunday wrapped up a stretch of 32 games in 33 days. The team has a scheduled off-day on Monday, giving everyone some much needed rest.

And no one needed it more than the Blue Jays' bullpen, which has received plenty of work this season. Entering Sunday, the relievers had logged 179 1/3 innings overall -- fifth-most in the AL. In the past seven games heading into Sunday, they'd covered 20 2/3 innings.

"Any team that has a stretch like this, it's tough," said left-hander Brett Cecil, who was given a few extra days' rest this week after sleeping awkwardly on his throwing shoulder. "Especially if you're getting into situations like a seventh inning. You hope to get at least six out of your starter, and hopefully he can get into the seventh."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for
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