The Blue Jays finished off a sweep of the Boston Red Sox in thrilling fashion. Brett Lawrie homered on the first pitch of the game and they kept the throttle down from that point on, winding up with a season-high 15 runs coming across on a season-high 18 hits.
There were two bat-around innings, the Blue Jays blasted four home runs and had every batter in the game get at least one hit. Every starter but Jeff Mathis scored at least once, and all but Yunel Escobar and Omar Vizquel drove in at least one.
I said it in this space four days ago, after the Blue Jays were swept by the Yankees in embarrassing fashion, losing by a combined 18-4 — “if there’s one thing that has truly defined 2012 for the Blue Jays thus far, it’s this: Just when you think they’re going to fall off a cliff, they pick themselves up and win a few games.”
Now, I certainly didn’t say that thinking they were going to go to Boston and pick up their first sweep at Fenway since September 28-30, 2009, outscoring the BoSox 28-11, but the Blue Jays have had several points this season at which many of their fans have simply thrown their hands in the air and given up — and every time that’s happened they’ve responded with some wins. They just did it again and have hopped over the Red Sox into fourth place in the A.L. East — they’re also just half a game back of the Tampa Bay Rays for third.
This was a thorough dismantling of a Red Sox squad that’s in just as much disarray as the Blue Jays are, with the Red Sox holding a lead for less than four innings in the entire series.
Along with the sweep, and the move back over the .500 mark, the Blue Jays may have found themselves some pitching to help keep their heads above water. They added J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon to the major-league staff in the huge deal with Houston on Friday, and both pitchers made their Jays’ debuts out of the bullpen in perfect fashion on Saturday night. In addition, young Aaron Loup showed brilliantly yet again, coming in in a big spot to help secure the sweep.
The Blue Jays weren’t completely in control from the get-go in this one, as the Red Sox closed the gap to 5-3 in the first inning and were rallying again in the sixth, having taken advantage of Rajai Davis losing a fly ball in the sun with two outs to score a couple of runs and have a man on first with the top of the lineup coming up. Even with an 11-7 lead, things could have gotten out of hand for the Jays right there, but Loup came on to get Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out to end the inning. The lefty came back out for the seventh and threw a perfect frame, and did the same thing again in the eighth. Loup has made four appearances so far in the major leagues, and in three of them, no one has reached base. No cheapies, either, as those three outings have covered 2/3 of an inning and two innings prior to Sunday’s 2 1/3.
In the space of three days, the Blue Jays have gone from a bullpen in which the only dependable arms were Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor — along with Darren Oliver every other day — to one that features Happ, Lyon and Loup to go along with Janssen and Oliver, and I have to say that I have a lot of faith in Chad Beck’s ability to be a good short reliever, as well.
The drowning pitching staff has been thrown a life preserver (or four), and so far it’s been put to good use. Of course, the additions of the gloves of Travis Snider and Anthony Gose in the outfield have helped a great deal, as well.
Snider threw his bat into the ring in the series finale, too, taking lefty Jon Lester WAY deep into the batters’ eye in dead centre for his first home run of the season. Snider, in what we all hope will be his final call-up to the major leagues, went 4-for-11 with a double, a homer, a walk and a sac fly in the Red Sox series, scoring twice and driving in three. That’s a .364/.385/.727 line so far. He won’t keep that up, of course, but here’s hoping he finally gets a legitimate every day opportunity to finally fulfill the promise that’s been seen in him ever since the Blue Jays drafted him 14th overall back in 2006. His getting the start against Lester showed that they’re not going to hide Snider from tough lefties (or at least, lefties who are supposed to be tough), and that’s a great sign indeed.