TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays welcomed the Minnesota Twins on Friday and were less than gracious hosts, handing the visitors their sixth straight loss, 4-0, in a crisp, quick, well-played affair.
Here are three things that stood out to me about the Blue Jays’ fourth win in their last 12 games:
WHEN THE HURLING BUEHRLE’S DONE
Mark Buehrle, a long-time AL Centralist, made his 50th career start against the Twins and was absolutely brilliant. Buehrle threw seven innings of six-hit shutout ball without issuing a walk and struck out four on the way to his fifth win of the season, second on the club to R.A. Dickey's eight.
As strange as it sounds, Buehrle was even better than that pitching line indicates. Two of the six hits were ground balls that found holes and one was a little duck-snort to left. There was an infield single on a grounder on which Buehrle was late covering first, and another hit on a ground ball that got through Adam Lind as he dodged the barrel of a broken bat that was flying towards him.
In all, Buehrle allowed only two balls to be hit hard over his seven shutout frames: Brian Dozier's line double just over the glove of a leaping Maicer Izturis and Joe Mauer's first-inning lineout to centre.
Since giving up seven runs in the third inning of an eventual Blue Jays win over Tampa Bay back on May 6, Buehrle has thrown 72 innings with an ERA of 2.88 and a WHIP of 1.208. The Blue Jays have won seven of his 11 starts since then.
WELCOME BACK, MR. REYES
Jose Reyes had a three-hit night that included a big two-run double in the fourth and extended his latest hit streak to eight games. He also stole a base in his first attempt since returning from his ugly ankle sprain a week and a half ago.
Reyes is hitting .361 over the eight-game streak to raise his season average to .350. He has a hit in 17 of the 20 games he's played this year and has reached base safely in all but one game -- that one being his first game back after spending two and a half months on the disabled list.
Blue Jays fans fell in love with Munenori Kawasaki for good reason, but Reyes brings just as much energy, fun and enthusiasm to the field and adds to it with an all-star caliber bat and cannon of a throwing arm.
GUARD THE LINE
Justin Morneau must have felt like he was doing driving drills on a back field in B.C. for a while there as the Blue Jays pounded three balls right down the first-base line early on.
First, it was Colby Rasmus who drilled one past a diving Morneau with two out in the third. The next inning, both Reyes and Lind hit ground balls in the exact same place, and Morneau did all he could with headlong dives to his left to try to haul them in, but they both skipped right down the line for two-baggers.
There was almost a whole other kind of "drilled" that happened over at first base in the seventh, when Oswaldo Arcia broke his bat hitting a grounder down that way. The ball was headed straight for Lind, but so was a rather large portion of Arcia's bat. Lind made the correct decision and saved his teeth, at the very least, if not a concussion or worse. He glanced up to see where the bat was going, and saw that it was going to land well in front of him. However, by the time he looked back down for the ball it was already on top of him and through into right field for a single. But that's OK.