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OAK@TOR: Happ goes seven scoreless with seven K's

Something finally went wrong for the Blue Jays, but they'll get another shot at tying a franchise record for wins in a calendar month when they take on the Royals in the second of a four-game set on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

Even after Jose Reyes made an error with two outs in the ninth inning on Thursday that allowed the Royals to rally and eventually win 8-6 in 10 innings -- ending Toronto's nine-game winning streak -- the Blue Jays are 20-8 in May. Toronto went 21-8 in May 2003. (The Blue Jays also won 22 games in September/October 1988, going 22-7.)

Everything the American League East-leading Blue Jays touched lately had been turning to gold -- even throwing runners out at first from the outfield, as Jose Bautista nabbed Billy Butler in Thursday's loss.

Toronto had ridden its deep lineup to three straight sweeps entering this series.

Even on the rare occasions when, say, Edwin Encarnacion wasn't blasting home runs -- which he did for a club record-setting 15th and 16th time this month on Thursday -- Toronto had won with pitching or defense.

"Any time you get on a nice little roll and things start going your way, and you start winning, you kind of expect something good is going to happen to you," manager John Gibbons said. "I think that's a mindset you have to develop over time. Sometimes it's just the opposite when you're scuffling. You find ways to lose or you're hoping to win.

"The good teams always seem to expect to win and that's usually what you do. But that doesn't just happen automatically."

In Friday's rematch, J.A. Happ will match up against Kansas City's Jason Vargas.

Happ (4-1, 3.34 ERA) will try to help start a new hot streak after the being cooled off in the series opener. As a starter in May -- the left-hander only pitched in relief in April -- Happ has been up-and-down.

In his three stronger starts of the month, Happ pitched a combined 18 innings and allowed just one run -- including his last start against the A's, when he struck out seven in seven scoreless innings. In his other two starts, he lasted a total of 7 2/3 innings and gave up eight earned runs.

The Royals, who were almost as cold as the Blue Jays were hot before their series-opening win -- they had lost four straight and seven of 10 -- hope Vargas can lead them to a second straight win.

Vargas (4-2, 3.55 ERA) also has had an up-and-down month. He has gone more than six innings and allowed two runs or fewer three times -- and allowed seven earned runs twice.

Blue Jays: Five-man rotation in place
The Blue Jays have decided to stick with the status quo in their starting rotation, and with an off-day coming on Monday, that means everyone will get a little bit of extra rest.

The last time Toronto had an off-day was May 19, and it allowed the club to temporarily go with a four-man rotation. Right-hander Liam Hendriks has since been named the club's No. 5 starter, and although the Blue Jays had the option to skip his next outing, that's not the decision they decided to make.

Hendriks will get the start on Tuesday in the series opener at Detroit. R.A. Dickey and Happ will follow before the Blue Jays return home for an Interleague series against the Cardinals.

It's technically hard to argue with the numbers that Hendriks has been able to produce so far. Through two starts, he has allowed three runs on six hits and three walks over 11 2/3 innings.

The problem is that the pitching lines have also been deceiving. Hendriks, for example, gave up a lot of hard-hit balls in his last start against the Rays, but he was helped out by a series of spectacular plays made by his defense that kept the game tied at 2 until the ninth inning.

Royals: Sveum says results take time
New Royals hitting coach Dale Sveum is reasonably sure that neither he nor anybody else is going to have an instant impact on the team.

After he was appointed hitting coach in a staff shakeup on Thursday, Sveum was asked if he felt any pressure, two months into the season, to turn things around quickly.

"Quickly, no," Sveum said. "I've been around long enough to know that things don't turn around quickly. If you're going to have any new stuff for people, it's a little more of a process to turn the hardest thing in sports around overnight."

That "hardest thing," of course, is hitting a round ball with a round bat, and a night after Sveum's appointment, his team had to start doing it against one of the best hitting teams in baseball.

Worth noting
• Encarnacion's 16 homers ties him with Mickey Mantle for the all-time AL record in the month and is just one shy of Barry Bonds for the Major League Baseball record.

• The last time the Blue Jays were alone in first place in the AL East later than May 29 was in 2000, when they were 46-40 and had a half-game lead on July 6.

• The Royals dealt former Major League infielder Jason Donald to the Texas Rangers' Triple-A affiliate Round Rock for cash. Donald had a .231 average in 25 games for Triple-A Omaha.

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