The Blue Jays showed some improvement in the month of May, but there’s still a long ways to go to live up to the preseason hype.
Toronto was 13-15 in May, but continued to have trouble picking up wins within the division. The Jays were 8-10 against the rest of the AL East in May and they’re going to have to do much better than that going forward to start making up some ground and challenge for a playoff spot.
Thankfully there’s still plenty of time to do that and on the plus-side a number of the Jays’ big sluggers started to find their groove in May. Jose Bautista started crushing the ball, as did Edwin Encarnacion, while Adam Lind also made big strides at the plate.
The injury bug bit hard again in May as Rajai Davis, J.A. Happ, Brett Lawrie, Darren Oliver and Brandon Morrow all joined Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson on DL. With Reyes and Johnson close to returning things could be looking up for June.
That’s a good summary of the month that was so let’s get to the good stuff. As usual, the Top 10 moments from whatever month we’re talking about can include anything Jays whether it be a great game, a great play or even a great off-field moment. So, in chronological order here we go…
10. May 6 – The Big Comeback
On May 6 the Blue Jays kicked off a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Early on it looked like a game to forget as Toronto starter Mark Buehrle surrendered sevens in the third inning to put the Jays in a 7-0 hole. Buehrle and the bullpen would settle down though, giving the Jays’ bats a chance to chip away at the lead.
In the fourth Toronto got on the board with a three-spot highlighted by a Colby Rasmus two-run homer. In the sixth inning Mark DeRosa chipped in with the two-run blast to cut the lead to 7-5 and Jose Bautista closed the gap to one run with a sac fly in the eighth.
Heading into the ninth inning with Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney on the hill the Jays were down 7-6. Adam Lind started the inning by drawing a walk and he was replaced on the base paths by the speedy Emilio Bonifacio. He would advance to third on a throwing error by former Jay Jose Molina putting the tying run 90 feet away with no outs.
All Toronto needed was a sac fly to tie the score, but Rasmus struck out and Maicer Izturis grounded out to first. The Jays’ last hope was J.P. Arencibia and he delivered. Arencibia cranked a two-run shot off Rodney to give the Jays an 8-7 win after clawing their way back down 7-0.
9. May 7 – The Big Comeback Part II
Comeback wins proved to be the order of the day in May, as the Jays pulled off another big one on May 7. That game wasn’t all good news however, as J.A. Happ took a line drive off the head that would knock him out of the game and cause him to spend extended time on the DL.
Heading into the seventh inning that night the Jays were trailing the Rays 4-1. Colby Rasmus took a chunk out of the lead with a two-run blast that scored Adam Lind. In the eighth Jose Bautista delivered a clutch double to tie the score 4-4.
In the ninth Toronto got a spark from an unlikely source. Maicer Izturis stepped in with one out and crushed a ball to right field to give Toronto the lead. Following an Emilio Bonifacio strikeout, Brett Lawrie extended the inning with a single to center. Melky Cabrera then plated him with a double. Casey Janssen mopped things up with a 1-2-3 ninth inning and the Jays won 6-4.
8. May 11 – Lind comes to life
It’s been a tough go around for Adam Lind at times the last few seasons in Toronto. In 2013 Lind got off to a slow start with a disappointing month of April that included a .244 average, .708 OPS, zero home runs and only three RBI.
In May Lind’s bat finally started to show some life. Lind had nine multi-hit games in the month and overall hit .346 with a .999 OPS and four home runs. The biggest home run came on May 11 against the Red Sox. With the game tied 2-2 in the ninth Lind stepped in against Junichi Tazawa and took him deep to center field. That turned out to be the winning run in a 3-2 Jays win.
Hopefully going forward we’ll get more of the Lind we saw in May and he can leave his awful April behind.
7. May 12 – Jays shred the Red Sox
On Sunday, May 12 the Blue Jays closed out a three-game set with the Red Sox with a chance to win the series with a victory. Not only did the Jays win the series they did it in grand fashion.
The Jays teed off on Boston pitching starting in the second inning when Munenori Kawasaki delivered a two-run double to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. Then the power surge began. Jose Bautista crushed a home run to center, Emilio Bonifacio hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot, and Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie added solo blasts. Bautista wasn’t finished yet though as he hit his second jack of the day.
When the dust settled at the end of nine innings Toronto won 12-4 behind five home runs and 12 hits overall. Encarnacion finished the game 3-5 with a pair of RBI, Bautista had three RBI with his two home runs and Bonifacio was 3-4 with two RBI and three runs scored.
6. May 14-15 – Blue Jays rout the World Series champs
In the middle of May the Blue Jays hosted the reigning World Series champs, the San Francisco Giants for a short two-game series. Toronto entered the series having won back-to-back games against the Red Sox and made it four in a row with two big wins over the Giants.
In the opener versus the Giants the Jays knocked out 18 hits in a 10-6 victory. Melky Cabrera terrorized his former team with four hits and a pair of RBI, while Brett Lawrie was 3-5.
In the second game of the series the Jays’ bats continued to pour it on with 11 hits in an 11-3 win. J.P. Arencibia and Adam Lind homered in the win and Jose Bautista had a pair of RBI.
In total the Jays had 29 hits and scored 21 runs in the two-game series.
5. May 22 – Bautista carries the Jays past the Rays
On May 22 the Blue Jays defeated the Rays 4-3 and all four runs came off the bat of slugger Jose Bautista.
Joey Bats got things started in the first inning with an RBI single that scored Anthony Gose. The Rays took over the lead with a pair of runs in the third but Bautista got that run back with this solo home run in the fourth.
The game remained tied until the ninth inning when James Loney put the Rays ahead with an RBI single. In the bottom of the ninth Bautista lifted the Jays again with a solo home run off Fernando Rodney to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
In the tenth inning guess who did it again? Bautista of course. Colby Rasmus got things started with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice by Emilio Bonifacio. After Munenori Kawasaki grounded out to move Rasmus to third Mark DeRosa pinch hit for Gose and drew a walk. That left men on first and third with two out for Bautista. Facing Kyle Farnsworth Bautista poked a single through the right side of the infield to score Rasmus as the game’s winning run.
4. May 26 – The Comeback Part III
Toronto’s game against the Orioles on May 26 looked like it was going to be another one of those disheartening losses that have been piling up this season. The Orioles took an early 2-0 lead in the game before the Jays got on the board with a single run in the fourth. The O’s regained the two-run lead in the seventh off an Adam Jones home run.
In the eighth inning the Jays loaded the bases with only one out, but were only able to plate one run on a single by Munenori Kawasaki. It looked like another lost opportunity, but at least the Jays were down only one run heading into the ninth.
That all changed in the top of the ninth. The Orioles beat up on Steve Delabar with the key hit being a two-run double by Matt Wieters that put Baltimore ahead 5-2.
Trailing by three runs in the ninth the Jays faced Baltimore closer Jim Johnson. He began the ninth by surrendering a lead-off double to Edwin Encarnacion. Adam Lind followed with a single to center to move Edwin to third. J.P. Arencibia kept the hit parade going with a single to right that scored Edwin and moved Lind to third.
Brett Lawrie made the first out of the inning on a fly ball to right that wasn’t deep enough to safely score Lind from third. Anthony Gose then drew a walk to load the bases. Mark DeRosa ground into a fielder’s choice that scored Lind and left men at first and third.
With two out Kawasaki stepped in and provided some magic. Kawasaki lifted a double into the gap in left centre that went all the way to the wall and scored both runners to give Toronto a 6-5 win.
3. May 26 – Munenori Kawasaki – The Legend Continues
Kawasaki not only produced the game-winning hit in the comeback win against the Orioles in May. He also continued to exude energy and fun and be a spark plug for the entire. From his quirky pregame warm ups to what may be the best post-game interview of all time there’s something for everyone to love about Kawasaki.
2. May 27 – Rasmus vs. Rasmus
May 27 was a special day for the Rasmus family. The Atlanta Braves were in town and along for the series was Atlanta rookie reliever Cory Rasmus. The younger sibling of Jays’ center fielder Colby Rasmus, Cory made his Major League debut against the Twins a few days earlier.
In the series opener Cory would replace Atlanta starter Tim Hudson on the mound to start the seventh inning. Cory would face Colby later in the inning with Adam Lind on first and one out. Colby won the first battle between brothers by ripping a double to left that moved Lind to third.
It was better night for Colby who went 2-4 with a home run and two RBI in a 9-3 Blue Jays win, while Cory was touched up for three runs on three hits and two walks in two innings.
1. May 29 – A Surprise Shutout
Before the Jays May 29 game against the Braves fans on Twitter, Facebook and other online venues weren’t expecting much. In fact, a number of posts were expecting the Blue Jays to get hammered as Esmil Rogers made a spot start against the team that was second in the Majors in home runs.
Rogers was making his first start since 2011 when he was with Colorado, but he pitched pretty well. He only lasted 3 1-3 innings, but he didn’t allow any runs while giving up three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
After Rogers departed the game John Gibbons handed the ball over to a pair of pitchers that had just been added to the roster that day. Juan Perez got the call first to make his Blue Jay debut. A journeyman who had pitched for Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Milwaukee, Perez went 2 2-3 innings without allowing a hit with four strikeouts.
When Perez’s night was done Neil Wagner took over. Wagner’s only previous Major League experience was a six-game stint with Oakland in 2011. He went two innings against the Braves allowing only one hit while striking out two to pick up his first career hold.
Casey Janssen worked a perfect ninth inning to record his 11th save of the season and secure the Jays 3-0 victory. The four pitchers combined to limit the Braves to only four hits with 11 strikeouts in the impressive shutout.
Here are two more memorable moments given the .GIF treatment
You don’t leave Jose Bautista hanging…
Everyone celebrates Melky Cabrera’s first home run as a Blue Jay