video thumbnail

TB@TOR: Encarnacion hits a solo homer to left

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have been getting a lot of reliable innings from their starting rotation over the past couple of weeks, but even when that hasn't been the case, the offense has been more than ready to step in and fill the void.

A case in point could be found Monday night, as Drew Hutchison labored through most of his outing. He clearly didn't have his best stuff, but with the way Toronto has been swinging the bats, it didn't even seem to matter.

The Blue Jays homered three times and came within one of a season high in hits with 16 to extend their winning streak to seven games with a 10-5 victory over the Rays in front of 15,616 fans at Rogers Centre.

"When things are going good, they're going good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We had a couple of those duck-snort hits we dropped in there, too. That's when you know things are going good."

It shouldn't come as a major surprise considering how well the Blue Jays have been playing over the past several weeks, but there was an entire laundry list of contributors. It was a top-to-bottom effort that included everyone in the starting nine getting at least one hit.

Edwin Encarnacion, Dioner Navarro and Steve Tolleson all went deep, as Toronto scored 10 or more runs for the third time this month. Encarnacion's solo shot in the sixth inning was his 13th in May, which set a Blue Jays franchise record for the month. He also added a double and two runs during a three-hit night.

Melky Cabrera was another standout with three hits and three RBIs. Brett Lawrie, Kevin Pillar and Navarro combined to go 6-for-14 with two doubles, four runs and three RBIs. One by one, Toronto picked apart the Rays pitching staff and won for the 17th time in 22 games.

The impressive showing is nothing new for an organization that has been one of the hottest teams in baseball during the past month. Toronto has at least one home run in nine consecutive games and 28 of its past 33 dating back to April 22. The club has out-homered the opposition 55-33 over that span and currently leads the Majors with 73. No other team has scored more than the Blue Jays have this month with 134 runs.

"Hitting is contagious," said Navarro, who raised his average to .271. "Right at the start of the game, we were bunting, Melky's hitting seven thousand this month and we just feed off of that. We're playing really good right now. We have a great approach."

The victim for this particular game was Rays left-hander Erik Bedard, who was in trouble almost all night long. He departed in the fifth and was charged with eight runs on 13 hits in his worst start of the season.

Toronto's highlights came in the fourth, when Navarro and Tolleson hit back-to-back home runs off Bedard. It was the third time this season the Blue Jays have recorded homers in consecutive at-bats and at the time, put the club in front by two runs. The score was tied at five heading into the bottom of the fifth, until Toronto broke it open by sending all nine batters to the plate in a four-run inning.

"They're good hitters," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You look at the mid part of that order, and then to have [Navarro] and Tolleson get to us, that didn't help us. You're gonna get beat up on, but when you get beat up on by the bottom of the order, it makes it more difficult."

The run support allowed Hutchison to escape with his fourth victory of the season despite an off-night on the mound. Hutchison struggled with location and was hit hard by a Rays team that entered the day ranked 13th in the American League with 201 runs scored. The biggest problem for Hutchison came with home runs, as David DeJesus went deep in the third, before Desmond Jennings and James Loney homered back-to-back in the fifth.

"Just one of those nights, I guess you could say," Hutchison said. "Nothing was very good about that, except the offense and the bullpen behind me did a great job. They're on a roll right now, so I was lucky enough to have that."

With the victory, Toronto maintained its two-game lead over the Yankees for first place in the AL East. With a win vs. Tampa Bay on Tuesday or Wednesday night, Toronto would pick up its fifth consecutive series victory for the first time since Sept. 17-Oct. 3, 2010.

MLB.com Comments