Streaking Blue Jays climb to top of AL East
Toronto locks up second 10-game win streak of the season
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have used a 10-game winning streak to take over sole possession of first place in the American League East and it's the first time since 1993 the club has held onto that spot this late into the year.
On July 28, Toronto was one game under .500 and eight games back of the Yankees for first place in the division. A lot has changed since then and Toronto's 10-3 victory over Oakland combined with New Yorks' 2-1 loss to the Indians on Wednesday night put the Blue Jays in front by half a game.
First place seemed like a pipe dream just a short time ago, but it is now a reality. Toronto has won 13 of its last 14 games while the Yankees seem to be fading after dropping five consecutive games to lose their footing in the standings.
"If you ask people in here, I don't know if they could tell you how many in a row that we've won and I think that's the beauty of it," said R.A. Dickey, who picked up the win Wednesday night after allowing three runs over six innings.
"We just come to the park and we expect to win ballgames. How many have we won? I bet half the people in here wouldn't even know that. I think that's what is special about championship ballclubs, is they know what job is in front of them and they take pride in consistently doing that job. That's what this team has a feel for."
Toronto became the first American League team since the 1977 Royals to pull off two winning streaks of at least 10 games in the same season. Those Royals went on to lose the ALCS to the Yankees. Since 1960, there were five National League teams to accomplish the feat -- the 2013 Braves (finished first in East, lost NLDS), the 2001 Cardinals (finished second in NL Central, lost NLDS), the 1978 Pirates (finished second in NL East, missed postseason), the 1969 Mets (first in NL East, won the World Series) and the 1969 Astros (fifth in NL West, missed the postseason).
Toronto had an 11-game winning streak earlier this season and acccomplished a similar feat back in 2013. Last year, there was a nine-game streak and a spectacular run in May, but none of that seems comparable to what's happening right now.
The Blue Jays have completely transformed their roster and, at least for the moment, can seemingly do no wrong. That will eventually change, but as things currently stand, everything is clicking. The starters have allowed three earned runs or less in 16 consecutive starts, the bullpen hasn't surrendered a run over their last 23 innings and the lineup continues to hit.
The strong run of baseball is coming at the right time, but the Blue Jays realize they haven't really accomplished anything yet. The Yankees have played three fewer games this season and they have 10 games remaining against Toronto, including three this weekend at Rogers Centre. The pennant race is just getting started.
"Baseball is a game of ups and downs and I think sometimes everybody outside the clubhouse has a tendency to forget that," said Chris Colabello, who went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer on Wednesday. "We know that there's going to be peaks and there's going to be valleys.
"It's a matter of staying even keel in the middle somewhere so that way you come to the park every day and just expect to compete and let the results fall where they may. It's great to go on runs and be in first place at this time of the year, but nothing counts until everything is said and done, the last pitch of the season is thrown."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has found some good humor in the recent string of success. Wednesday's victory moved his career record to one game over .500 (525-524).
"I better quit now," Gibbons said.
The way things are going for Toronto right now, that's not going to be happening any time soon.