Blue Jays sizzle in August for club record
Toronto's .778 winning percentage highest in any month
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays finished August on a losing note, but that did little to take away from the type of historic month that is rarely seen across baseball, let alone north of the border.
Toronto had its three-game winning streak snapped on Monday night with a 4-2 loss to the Indians, but the Blue Jays still finished the month with a 21-6 record. That equates to a .778 winning percentage, which is the highest in franchise history for any individual month.
The Blue Jays fell just one win shy of the tying the franchise record for most victories in any month. That record still belongs to the 1998 team that went 22-7, but the latest streak is ranked second alongside May 2014 (21-9), May 2003 (21-8) and September/October 1992 (21-9).
"We've won a lot of baseball games and that's good," said No. 1 starter David Price, who was acquired prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. "I don't know what our record was this month, but I know we've won a lot more games than we've lost. We just need to continue to play baseball the way we've had since I've been here and good things will happen."
Toronto has been winning its games in a wide variety of ways, but the numbers that stand out the most can be found on offense. The Blue Jays led the Majors in August with 170 runs while also ranking first in home runs (49), on-base percentage (.349) and OPS (.831).
Not surprisingly, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion were two of the biggest contributors. They became the first pair of teammates to record 35 RBIs each in August since Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr did it for Boston in 1950.
Encarnacion extended his hitting streak on Monday night to 26 games, and he finished August hitting .402 (33-for-82) with 11 home runs and a stunning 1.385 OPS. He is now tied for the second-longest hitting streak in franchise history and is two shy of the mark set by Shawn Green in 1999.
Donaldson was almost as good, with a .324 average, 11 home runs and a 1.132 OPS in 27 games this past month. Every time Donaldson steps to the plate at Rogers Centre, he hears "MVP, MVP" chants, and the level of noise is only getting louder.
"It's awesome," Donaldson said after Monday's game. "I'll tell you what, these fans are incredible. They're getting after it. Today we came up a little bit short but we know that we're going to come back tomorrow stronger."
Most of the attention surrounding this Blue Jays team has been centered around the league's best offense and rightfully so, but the pitching also has done plenty of heavy lifting over the last month. Toronto's pitching staff ranked third in the Major Leagues with a 2.83 ERA in August while issuing the fewest walks (53) and the fifth-fewest home runs (25) in baseball.
Toronto had aspirations of the postseason before the season began, but the expectations have been taken to an entirely new level now. It started with the blockbuster trade in July that saw shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and reliever LaTroy Hawkins join the Blue Jays in a trade for shortstop Jose Reyes and a package of prospects.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos then came through with deals for Price, Ben Revere and Mark Lowe to put together a team that fans and players inside the clubhouse believe has the type of potential to make a strong run into the postseason. That's something that hasn't been said around these parts in 22 years.
"If this isn't the feel of a championship team, I don't know what is," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin recently said.
A lot of people in the city of Toronto and across Canada probably feel the same way.