By Andrew Hendriks
Canadian Baseball Network
Having limped to an 8-17 record in April, the Toronto Blue Jays rebounded from their abysmal start and capped off an 18-10 May with a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Rogers Centre on Wednesday.
Although emerging from such a deficit is no easy task, the Blue Jays have now closed the gap and will enter June only a game below .500.
Few saw this coming, but maybe more of us should have.
“To be honest it doesn’t surprise me,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons of his club's recent power surge following Wednesday’s 5-4 win over the Reds. “ We thought we had that in us.”
The Blue Jays skipper is right; this was a team built to mash... and despite a pandemic-like rash of injuries, including a sizeable amount of time lost from Steve Pearce, Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson, mash they did in May.
Paced by a vintage performance from Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays knocked a grand total of 49 home runs in the month. Historically, it was their second-best May showing, topped only by 2010’s 54.
Of the team’s 148 runs scored in May, 92 came via the big fly. That’s 62.1 percent of their overall run total, which is good for tops in all of Major League Baseball.
In all, Bautista led the team with nine home runs and was followed by Justin Smoak’s eight, Kendrys Morales’ six and Devon Travis’ four.
Even the pitchers got into the action as Marcus Stroman hit the first Blue Jays first home run from a hurler in 13 years during the Blue Jays' 9-0 rout of the Braves at SunTrust Park on May 18.
“We really had a good month with home runs when you compare everything to April,” added Gibbons. “Our whole game has been better. The month of May was a complete opposite.”
In the American League, Toronto’s .643 May winning percentage was bested only by Houston’s .759 mark.
With a four-game set against the Yankees on the horizon, the Blue Jays' strong play is coming at the right time.
“I would anticipate it being a tough four games. (The Yankees are) the front-runners, we’ve played them many times over the years and we’ve had some pretty good battles with them," said Gibbons. "It would be nice to continue playing well right now. The timing would be perfect.”
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