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Rotation stellar through Toronto's win streak

TORONTO -- Most of the attention during the Blue Jays' recent string of success was directed toward the club's high-powered offense, but the starting rotation also has carried its fair share of weight.

Toronto entered play Monday night on a six-game winning streak, and in all of those contests, the starter earned the decision. The wins have begun to pile up, at least in part because the Blue Jays allowed two runs or less in four straight games and seven of their last 10.

The trickle-down effect is that there hasn't been the need to carry an extra reliever in the bullpen. That provides manager John Gibbons with another option off the bench, and the entire roster is better off because of it.

"As well as they have been pitching, they've all been throwing enough innings now, so we haven't needed that extra guy in the 'pen," Gibbons said. "So that's big. It all revolves around starting pitching. If your starting pitching is good, then you have a chance. If it's not, then it's tough. I don't care what kind of offense you've got, what kind of defense you've got. That's the key to any team in baseball."

The starting rotation had been a big question mark for the team all season long, but the numbers are relatively solid. Toronto ranks fifth in the American League -- first in the AL East -- with a 3.66 ERA from its starters entering play Monday. The main problem, at least early on, was a lack of innings from the staff and the toll that took on an overworked bullpen.

The situation may soon become a problem again, with some question marks still surrounding Liam Hendriks and J.A. Happ, but for now, Gibbons feels good.

"To be honest, I'm not concerned about anything right now," Gibbons said. "You know how the baseball season goes, ups and downs. We'll go through it. Happ, I feel really good about Happ. He's 4-1; he has been really good.

"There was some doubt hanging over everybody's head about what he was going to do. He came back off the back [injury with] speculation about starting in the 'pen and how was he going to end up. But he's put his money where his mouth is right now. Hendriks, I mean he was good for us in Triple-A and he was good the other night, but we really don't know what he is yet up here."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
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