TORONTO — Early leads have been the norm, the pitching staff is rounding into form and confidence is growing by the day.
The Toronto Blue Jays are doing everything right these days and it’s paying off with victories.
Adam Lind hit a three-run homer and Mark Buehrle (4-4) worked five effective innings as the Blue Jays defeated the Colorado Rockies 5-2 on Wednesday to extend their season-high winning streak to eight games. Toronto’s bullpen allowed just one hit over four innings of scoreless relief and Casey Janssen earned his 16th save.
“Everything is clicking right now for us,” Buehrle said. “I can’t pinpoint why everything is clicking but we’re getting a big hit, getting a big pitch when we need to, guys are playing great defence behind us. I don’t know what’s happening but hopefully (we can) continue it as long as we can.”
Toronto (35-36) completed a three-game sweep of the Rockies with the victory and moved just a game away from the .500 mark. The winning streak is the team’s longest since a 10-gamer in 2008.
Neil Wagner, Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar and Janssen all worked an inning apiece.
“What can you say — we’ve been saying it over and over every day,” manager John Gibbons said of his bullpen. “There’s going to be times when they’re going to give up some runs but right now they’re on some kind of roll.”
Jose Bautista got things started in the opening frame when he reached on a throwing error by third baseman Nolan Arenado. The Toronto slugger moved to second on a single by Edwin Encarnacion and Lind followed by launching a 2-1 pitch over the right-field wall for his ninth homer of the year.
The Toronto first baseman has had at least one hit in 19 of his last 22 starts and is batting a stellar .340 on the season. It’s quite a difference from a year ago, when he spent part of the season in the minors.
“It’s surreal,” Lind said. “Couldn’t have written that script.”
Colorado (37-36) got on the board in the second inning when Jordan Pacheco led off with a double and scored on a single by Yorvit Torrealba.
Toronto restored its three-run lead in the fourth inning. Colby Rasmus walked and moved to third when second baseman D.J. LeMahieu booted a Maicer Izturis grounder.
Emilio Bonifacio hit a tailor-made double-play ball but used his speed to beat the throw to first, allowing Rasmus to score. Bonifacio promptly stole second but was stranded when Colorado starter Juan Nicasio (4-3) struck out Munenori Kawasaki.
Carlos Gonzalez hit a frozen rope inside the right-field pole for his 21st homer of the season to open the fifth inning, making it a 4-2 game. The Rockies would not get any closer as they fell to 0-9 all-time at Rogers Centre.
“This series we didn’t play good baseball at all,” Gonzalez said. “They pitched well, they scored a lot of runs.”
Buehrle didn’t have his best stuff but still managed to prevent a big inning. The veteran left-hander gave up eight hits, a walk and two earned runs over five innings while striking out four.
“There were just a lot of pitches I got away with today,” he said. “Like I said, earlier in the season that wasn’t happening. Those pitches were getting hit for home runs and getting us down in a hole early.”
Wagner struck out the first two batters he faced. LeMahieu then worked a 14-pitch at-bat before popping up to short.
Cecil came on for the seventh and was dominant once again, striking out a pair and getting a ground-ball out. The left-hander has not allowed a hit since May 28, a club-record span of 38 batters.