The Toronto Blue Jays have always known they had the potential to break out in a big way after struggling through the first five weeks of the season.
The bats have come alive over the last week and the Blue Jays are looking more and more like the team they were expected to be this year.
Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia homered as the Blue Jays crushed the San Francisco Giants 11-3 on Wednesday to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games. Ramon Ortiz worked seven solid innings for the win as Toronto (17-24) hit the double-digit scoring plateau for the third straight game.
"Earlier in the year we were having a tough time scoring runs but like we've said before, there's a track record with the guys in this clubhouse," Arencibia said. "There's too many guys that have done a lot of good things offensively for a long time to have that happen for an extended period of time."
April was marked by a quiet Toronto offence, poor pitching and a freefall to the basement of the American League East. May has been more kind now that the bats are going and the quality starts are becoming more frequent.
There is still plenty of work to be done and the Blue Jays remain stuck in the division basement. But the big names are starting to get the job done and it has fuelled a sense of optimism.
Batting order changes pay off
Manager John Gibbons changed his batting order last week in Boston and it has paid off with big results. Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have all posted impressive numbers since forming a 1-2-3 punch at the top of the order.
"We are really swinging the bats now," Gibbons said. "We're on a nice little roll."
Toronto had a big first inning for the second straight night against the National League West leaders. The Blue Jays took advantage of some ugly San Francisco defence in a five-run first inning, added three more runs in the second and the rout was on.
Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong (1-4) lasted just two innings, giving up six hits, eight runs — three of them earned — and two walks. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said it felt like "Groundhog Day" on the heels of a 10-6 loss the night before.
"Probably the worst thing that could have happened for (Vogelsong) is what happened there," Bochy said. "That's a lot of work in two innings."
San Francisco (23-17) opened the scoring on a comfortable, breezy night at Rogers Centre. Angel Pagan hit a ground-rule double and later scored on a Pablo Sandoval sacrifice fly.
Errors sink San Francisco
Marco Scutaro and Pagan both made errors in the bottom half of the frame and Toronto made the Giants pay.
Bautista reached base when Scutaro dropped a pop-up in shallow right field. Encarnacion walked and Arencibia hit a sinking liner that Pagan flubbed in centre field, allowing two runs to score.
Lind followed with a two-run shot — his third homer of the season — and Emilio Bonifacio later added an RBI single. Munenori Kawasaki hit into a double play to end the threat.
Cabrera doubled to lead off the second inning and Bautista drove him in with a single. Encarnacion flied out before Arencibia hit a rainbow blast for his 10th homer of the year.
Ortiz (1-1) allowed one earned run and six hits to help Toronto sweep the two-game interleague set and record its first home series win of the year.
Giants reliever Chad Gaudin entered in the third inning and issued one-out walks to Kawasaki and Cabrera. Bautista drove in a run with a double and Encarnacion cashed in another with a sacrifice fly.
San Francisco put runners on the corners in the fourth inning but Ortiz — who turns 40 this month — escaped by getting Scutaro to fly out.
Toronto added another run in the sixth inning when Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., scored from first base after Colby Rasmus doubled down the right-field line.
Blue Jays reliever Mickey Storey came on in the eighth inning and gave up a pair of runs. He allowed two hits in the ninth before striking out Joaquin Arias to end it.
Announced attendance was 32,863 and the game took two hours 54 minutes to play.