Power surge key to Jays' successful May

 Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak belted eight home runs in May.

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak belted eight home runs in May.

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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Andrew Hendriks

Born in southern Ontario during the late 1980's, Hendriks had a front row seat to watch the Blue Jays reach the pinnacle in '92/'93 as a child, an experience that only bolstered this Canadian's love for the "American Game." Having played since before his memory allows access too, his passion for Baseball grew over years of emulating his heroes on the local sandlots, memorizing the backs of chewing gum scented cards and travelling across North America to experience as many aspects of the game as possible. In 2009, Hendriks began volunteering at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as a Weekend Tour Guide. By 2010, he was hired on to help curate for the museum & Instruct the fundamentals of the game along side such legends as Tony Fernandez, Roberto Alomar and Jim Fanning during the Hall's annual Kids On Deck program. Following the 2011 season, Hendriks began blogging and co-hosting a weekly podcast for www.BackInBlue.ca, a Blue Jays themed website ran by fans, for fans. Looking to continue connecting with baseball fans across the country, Hendriks is excited to join such a strong team at the Canadian Baseball Network and looks forward to chipping in.