TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have used power, speed and pitching on a recent surge that has put them in first place in the American League East.
Their 3-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday showed just how well that combination can work.
Edwin Encarnacion provided the power with his 14th homer of the season, Jose Reyes provided the speed by equalling a career best for a game with three stolen bases and left-hander J.A. Happ provided the pitching with seven runless innings.
Put it all together, and you get a team that’s on a season-best six-game winning streak and has won 16 of its past 21 games.
“I don’t know if you ever see it coming,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “What it really comes down to is we’re just playing good baseball. The starting pitching has been really good, our offence has been alive, the bullpen has been solid.”
The Blue Jays (29-22) swept the three-game series with the Athletics (30-20) who lead the AL West despite losing their past four games.
“Our three pitchers and their three pitchers were very good,” Gibbons said. “And in those tight ball games, some clutch hitting and some great base running made the difference in most of those games. So ride it, ride it.”
It was Toronto’s second straight sweep after taking three games from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Happ (4-1) allowed four hits and three walks while striking out seven in his longest outing of the season.
“He’s filling up the strike zone,” Gibbons said. “He’s really doing a nice job of using his fastball on both sides of the plate. He’s locked in right now. (Catcher Erik) Kratz has done a great job with him.”
Dustin McGowan replaced Happ in the eighth and allowed Josh Donaldson’s 11th homer of the season. Casey Janssen pitched the ninth inning to earn his seventh save in as many attempts this season.
“Definitely wanted to pitch off the fastball today and Kratz did a great job behind the plate,” Happ said. “We were on the same page and tried to use that.
“First and foremost it was about me throwing the ball where I’m supposed to throw it, and then pitching off the fastball and using everything. I thought today we did a good job establishing the fastball.”
A’s left-hander Drew Pomeranz (4-2) allowed five hits, four walks and two runs in four-plus innings.