Sunday, August 30, 2015

{allcanada} Blue Jays complete sweep of Tigers


TORONTO - When Mark Buehrle won a World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 2005, he constantly felt like no matter the deficit they'd win the game. The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays are similar, only with a super-sized offence.

"Here, shoot, if we don't score eight runs, we had a bad day," Buehrle said after a 9-2 win against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre. "We're confident. We're coming to the field every day thinking we're going to win."

The Blue Jays have reason to feel that way. After sweeping the Tigers, they're 21-5 in August and lead the American League East by 1 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.

On Sunday, Toronto provided everything that has become commonplace since a flurry of pre-trade-deadline moves: an offensive onslaught, strong pitching and reliable defence in front of a sellout crowd. Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar each hit a two-run home run, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion each had a solo shot, and the Blue Jays added to their major-league best run production.

"If this isn't the feel of a championship team, I don't know what is," Martin said. "I feel like we're great offensively, we're great on defence, we're pitching great, our bullpen has depth. I like what we have going right now."

It's hard not to like what the Blue Jays have going. They've been dominant in the month since acquiring shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, ace David Price, outfielder Ben Revere and relievers La Troy Hawkins and Mark Lowe. Confidence is at an all-time high, something manager John Gibbons credits those trades for.

"With the trades: Tulowitzki, Price, Hawkins, Lowe, Revere, (infielder Cliff) Pennington, we just took off after they happened," Gibbons said. "I don't know how it could but the addition of those guys that has pushed us to this point. It gave everybody a shot in the arm."

While Tulowitzki has struggled at the plate, his defence remains a major upgrade over Jose Reyes. Tulowitzki doubled Sunday after Gibbons moved him down from the leadoff spot to fifth in the order. Revere went 0 for 4 with a walk in the No. 1 hole, but that didn't stunt the Blue Jays' production at all.

In a lineup that has become a modern-day murderer's row, Encarnacion continued his torrid hitting by going 2 for 3 with his 30th home run of the season. He extended his hitting streak to 25 games and is three short of Shawn Green's franchise record set in 1999.

Encarnacion is hitting .409 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in that time. His first-inning home run gave him 35 RBIs in August, setting a Blue Jays record for any month, and he has an extra-base hit in eight straight games.

Pitching with a lead almost all afternoon, Buehrle (14-6) cruised through six-plus innings, allowing one earned run on five hits. The lefty didn't feel well but gutted through another solid start.

"It's getting that time of year, and I battle through every start I go out there," Buehrle said. "I'm still going out there trying to give us a chance to win. We're still scoring runs. When these guys are out there scoring that many runs, it makes it a lot easier."

The Blue Jays have scored 718 runs, the most in the majors.

Almost a month ago Buehrle said the Blue Jays felt like, "Whose butt are we gonna kick today?" That hasn't changed.

"It still feels the same way," he said. "These guys are swinging the bat right now and scoring runs. It just seems like everything we're doing, we're doing right."

After his team was out-scored 29-6, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, like many others, was impressed by the Blue Jays' power.

"We ran into the best offensive team in the league," Ausmus said. "They can put up runs in a hurry."

Notes — With a two-run double in the eighth, second baseman Ryan Goins extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... The Blue Jays play host to the Cleveland Indians beginning Monday. ... Tigers starter Alfredo Simon (11-9) gave up six earned runs on six hits, including all four home runs. ... The Blue Jays wore Maple Leaf red caps in honour of Canadian baseball day.

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