Blue Jays crush Detroit Tigers for series sweep

The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.

In fact, they look like they’re getting better.

With the meat of their order — Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion on fire — Russell Martin looks to have regained his health while manager John Gibbons has pulled slumping Troy Tulowitzki from the leadoff spot in an effort to get his bat going.

The revamped batting order that was unveiled on Sunday afternoon responded with a four-homer effort as the Jays completed a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 9-2 victory.

In the home run department, Donaldson and Encarnacion connected for solo shots in the first inning while Kevin Pillar hit a two-run bomb in the second to shoot the Jays into a quick 4-0 lead.

Martin got into the act in the fourth with a two-run blast of his own — his second homer in as many days — and, just for good measure, and to prove his ailing hamstring is all but mended, legged out an infield single in the eighth.

Coupled with the David Price-enhanced rotation and revamped, shutdown bullpen, it’s all looking rosy for the Jays, who have recorded sweeps in five of their past eight series to go 20-3 over that stretch.

The win Sunday also boosted their record in August to 21-5. That’s the most wins in August in team history.

The results have both the players and Gibbons excited about their prospects.

“If this isn’t the feel of a championship team, I don’t know what is,” said Martin who has been to the post-season with the Dodgers, Yankees and Pirates. “I feel like we’re great offensively, great on defence, we’re pitching great (rotation), our bullpen has depth, I like what we have now.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing, keep playing the game the way we play and I think we’re going to do great things this year.”

Gibbons is quick to keeping reminding everyone that they haven’t won anything yet, but the results this past month and how the Jays have pulverized teams has him rolling on the bandwagon, as well. His team is oozing with confidence and why not?

“I think it’s (confidence) as high as it can get,” Gibbons said. “We’re playing great baseball, that’s pretty obvious. Everything’s really clicking. Our offence is on fire, our pitching’s been good, our defence has been great.

“When you feel like you’re good, you win and that’s the roll we’re on right now. There are some pretty good players in there with good track records. It’s all come together at this point.”

Encarnacion — he of the three home-run, nine-RBI game on Saturday — hammered his 30th bomb of the season to right centre in the first. The home run gave him 35 RBIs for August which is a club record for any month. He had been tied at 34 with Carlos Delgado, who totalled 34 in June of 2003. He also is the fourth player in club history to hit 30 or more homers in four seasons, the others being Delgado, Bautista and Joe Carter.

The home run also extended Encarnacion’s hit streak to 25 games, the longest in the big leagues this season.

Steady Eddie has now also recorded an RBI in eight consecutive games, which ties the club record and in that time has driven in 24 runs.

On the hill for the Jays was veteran Mark Buehrle, who was looking to rebound after a couple of shaky outings against Philadelphia, a loss, and Texas, a no-decision.

Backed by the run support, Buehrle breezed to his club-high 14th win of the season. He went six-plus innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits. The 14 wins are the most he has logged since winning 15 in 2008 with the White Sox.

For the first time since becoming a Blue Jay, Tulowitzki was out of the leadoff spot and batted fifth with Ben Revere hitting first.

“The only reason I did it was to give Tulo a little bit of a breather,” Gibbons explained. “Actually, I like the way it sets up, like him at the top of the lineup but maybe this will jump-start him a little bit,”

Tulowitzki responded by going 1-for-4, his hit a double to right that one-hopped the fence. He seemed pleased with the switch.

“I hadn’t hit leadoff in my big-league career, so it was a little bit different for me,” he said. “At the same time, we were winning games, so you keep going with that. I’ve been struggling a little bit offensively, so I think the switch was maybe to try to get myself going and, at the same time, try not to mess up what we have here. I’m sure it was a tough decision for Gibby. Ben’s been playing exceptionally well, he’s been swinging the bat really, really good. I hope he gets on base like he’s been doing and in position in front of these guys that can really drive him in.”

Revere, meanwhile, went 0-for-4 with a walk to put an end to his nine-game hitting streak.

“Anywhere you put me, I’m going to hit — top of the lineup, bottom of the lineup. As long as you play me, my game is to be get on base, steal bases and score runs,” Revere said of the switch. “I’m going to just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

When you’re winning games as the Jays are, there are no complaints.


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