TORONTO- Without a doubt the Toronto Blue Jays are the hottest team in MLB right now coming off a weekend high where the team achieved the unthinkable by sweeping the Yankees for the first time since 2003. This is a remarkable feat considering a week ago we could call the team mediocre at best with the Blue Jays one game under .500. Now they are holding the 1st wild card spot and only trialing the Yankees by 1.5 games for the AL East division lead. Winning eight straight games and eleven of their last twelve games, the Blue Jays are sending a strong message with a three-game series sweep over the AL East division leader.
Entering the Bronx this past-weekend, both teams led the league in runs scored and everybody was expecting an offensive explosion. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case and instead we witnessed the Jays out-pitch, outslug and out-defend the Yankees. The Blue Jays’ pitching staff led by R.A. Dickey, David Price and Marco Estrada, only allowed the Yankees to score one run.
The Blue Jays continue to score a lot of runs, led by Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista, who both achieved two solo home runs this past weekend. Another recent high for the Jays was Justin Smoak’s first career grand slam this past Saturday, which was also the team’s first grand slam ever at the old and new Yankee Stadium.
This incredible display is shaking a lot of heads, making everybody wonder, “what is going on with the Blue Jays?”
Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos may have something to do with the team’s recent performance. Since he over hauled his roster prior to the non-waiver trade deadline we have witnessed the team execute surprisingly well in every aspect of the game. The Blue Jays’ pitching staff posted the MLB’s best 2nd best ERA with 2.37 since the All Star break, only trailing the St. Louis Cardinals. We’ve also noticed they have been hitting, scoring runs and improving their overall defense.
Getting Price, Troy Tulowitzki, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe and Ben Revere seems to be paying off for the team who are in a desperate attempt to end their 22-year playoff drought. Not to mention that they added veteran infielder Cliff Pennington over the weekend. Their newest acquisitions have been making an impact both on and off the field: Tulowitzki proves to be a better overall shortstop than Jose Reyes. Price is the ace that the Blue Jays needed. Hawkins and Lowe improved their bullpen. And Revere is a huge upgrade in left field providing both speed and athleticism. The Blue Jays are a perfect 10-0 with Tulowitzki in the starting lineup. It is obvious that Anthopoulos managed to transform this team from being one of the most mediocre to one of the best.
With 49 games remaining, the Blue Jays are nine games over .500, a season best for the team. But there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. The Blue Jays will be hosting the Yankees next weekend and will match up for 10 more games. One series sweep does not make the Blue Jays the new favourite to overtake the AL East division so they are going to have to carry this momentum for the rest of the season.
Despite this, the Blue Jays are in a nice groove right now. It’s no fluke that they’re playing their best baseball right now and, if they continue to score runs and pitch well, then maybe this year might be the year that they can play October baseball.