After winning 11 of their last 12 games, including eight straight, the Blue Jays (61-52) are now within 1.5 games of the Yankees (61-49) for first place in the AL East.
The Blue Jays trailed the Yankees by 4.5 games last Friday. Then they swept the Yankees three straight in the Bronx, allowing just one run in the series.
Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista have been lights-out for Toronto all season – that duo has combined for 57 home runs and 161 RBIs – and this past weekend was no different. Donaldson had two home runs against the Yankees – and has six in his last nine games overall – while Bautista has three in his last five and five in his last nine.
So yeah, they’ve been dominant.
“They sure (have been), Scott,” Blue Jays radio analyst Joe Siddall said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They have really carried this team. You talk about the moves that (general manager) Alex Anthopoulos made before the deadline, and I tell you: It’s a transformed roster obviously with five new players. This was a good team before all of the deals went down, but I was one that even said I don’t think this team should give up some of the good, young arms for one piece because I felt that this team was a little further away (than) that. But holy cow, did Alex Anthopoulos ever break the bank. He gave up lots of prospects, but when you look at what came in return, it’s just been outstanding.
“It started with the Tulowitzki trade and also adding a veteran in LaTroy Hawkins for that bullpen,” Siddall continued. “The Blue Jays’ bullpen had really struggled this season and they needed some help down there. It started with Aaron Sanchez coming back from the disabled list and instead of going back into the rotation, they put him down in the bullpen and that really helped because they desperately needed some help down there. (So they) add LaTroy Hawkins with that trade, but Troy Tulowitzki is such a pro. Both sides of the ball offensively and defensively, just one of the best in the game. He has just solidified the position.”
Throw in David Price, Mark Lowe and Ben Revere and you’ve got a team that looks like the AL East favorite.
That wouldn’t be possible without those acquisitions, but this season was set in motion last November when the Blue Jays traded for Donaldson.
“I, like many, were shocked,” Siddall said. “Right away, I thought, what kind of damage can this guy do playing half his games in the Rogers Centre, which is pretty hitter-friendly? But you know what? He’s doing it everywhere. He homered Friday night and then again Sunday in the first inning in his first at-bat batting second in the lineup behind Tulo. What a statement. I think those are huge home runs to do that very early like that.”
The Blue Jays are scoring early by design. Manager John Gibbons has Tulowitzki, Donaldson, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion batting first through fourth respectively.
“Probably a little unconventional for most managers,” Siddall said of batting Tulowitzki leadoff, “but boy has it ever worked. There is no break right out of the gate for any starting pitcher. Nathan Eovaldi found out the hard way Friday night. (Masahiro) Tanaka found out the hard way Sunday.”