TORONTO -- With May now in the rear-view mirror, it's too bad the Blue Jays don't have time to reflect on the month that was. Instead, they rung in June with a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Royals at Rogers Centre.
But the month of May ranked right up there with the best in club history, as the Blue Jays enjoyed a nine-game winning streak, put up their second-most wins ever in a given month, led the Majors in a slew of offensive categories, and even had one of their own tie the great Mickey Mantle for an American League home run record.
"It's been a huge month, 21 wins," said manager John Gibbons. "I think in 2008, we had 20, had the best record in baseball, and I got fired three weeks later. This has been a good run, but it means absolutely nothing in June."
Gibbons might be right, but that doesn't negate the fact that the Blue Jays' 21-9 record ranks second among the best months in club history. Nor does it take away the fact that Edwin Encarnacion's 16 May home runs matched Mantle's AL record for May, or that they led the Majors in wins, runs (165), hits (286), home runs (48), extra-base hits (115) and OPS (.831).
But May was also a grind for Toronto, which had only one off-day and on Sunday wrapped up a stretch of 32 games in 33 days. The team has a scheduled off-day on Monday, giving everyone some much needed rest.
And no one needed it more than the Blue Jays' bullpen, which has received plenty of work this season. Entering Sunday, the relievers had logged 179 1/3 innings overall -- fifth-most in the AL. In the past seven games heading into Sunday, they'd covered 20 2/3 innings.
"Any team that has a stretch like this, it's tough," said left-hander Brett Cecil, who was given a few extra days' rest this week after sleeping awkwardly on his throwing shoulder. "Especially if you're getting into situations like a seventh inning. You hope to get at least six out of your starter, and hopefully he can get into the seventh."
Gose recalls Down Under days with Hendriks
TORONTO -- It was almost 10 years ago that Anthony Gose left the United States for the first time. Then 14 years old, he was part of a select baseball team that headed Down Under to Australia for a two-week tournament. Players would billet with host families of a local player for the duration of the stay, and in a coincidence not fully appreciated until this season, Gose's billets happened to be the Hendriks family.
As in, Blue Jays pitcher Liam Hendriks, who was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo following Sunday's 4-0 win against the Royals.
"I'm not sure a lot of people know this about him, but Liam was choosing between baseball and Australian football," said Gose, who spent Christmas with Hendriks and his family that year. "And he didn't always pitch. He was playing the outfield, first, maybe third. Everyone was talking about him back then."
Hendriks can't remember if he was "15 or 16" at the time, but his earliest memory of Gose is seeing a left-handed, smoke-throwing pitcher on the mound. That's a far cry from the speedy center fielder Blue Jays fans have become familiar with since Gose was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on May 15.
"He was a still a great defender, but he had a cannon on the mound, and pitched like 93 [mph] and had a 75-mph changeup," said Hendriks, who was recalled from Buffalo on May 23.
Gose hasn't been back to Australia since. It's a long flight and an expensive trip. But he does remember Australia bringing with it many first experiences, including seeing a kangaroo, learning to play poker, and going to the beach on Christmas, something unfathomable for most North Americans.
"It was cool to spend Christmas in the summer," Gose said. "It was 90 degrees, and when you're in the United States, it's not necessarily freezing, but you're thinking about winter. But down on that side of the world, they're going to the beach."
But perhaps the thing that stood out most was the fact that Hendriks was being heavily scouted at the time. He was still too young to sign, but Gose remembers a lot of fanfare around the now 25-year-old. Gose's aspirations were to play in the Major Leagues, so to be around someone who was getting big-league attention was "pretty cool", he said.
"I don't think he had signed yet, I don't remember. But it was around that time and there was a lot going on with it," Gose said.
Blue Jays option Hendriks to Triple-A Buffalo
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays optioned starting pitcher Liam Hendriks to Triple-A Buffalo following Sunday's 4-0 win against the Royals. A corresponding roster move will be announced on Monday.
A change to the Blue Jays' pitching staff seemed imminent after Marcus Stroman was recalled to make a last-minute start on Saturday against Kansas City. After manager John Gibbons said Stroman had earned another start, the club was left with six starters and a six-man bullpen.
Hendriks had indicated on Saturday he'd be willing to move to the bullpen, but the Blue Jays had other plans.
"The thing with Hendriks, we keep him starting if something happens or we want to insert a guy for a start to give these guys a break," Gibbons said. "He could have gone down [to the bullpen] and been a long man, but we don't want him to start backsliding because we think he can help us as a starter as the season goes on."
The 25-year-old Hendriks went 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts since being recalled from the Bisons.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.